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from Issue Number 7, Summer 2017

a romantic melancholy trio translated by Michael Ferber

Antoine Vincent Arnault, 1766-1834:
"La feuille"

De ta tige détachée,
Pauvre feuille desséchée, ,
Où vas-tu ? - Je n'en sais rien. ,
L'orage a brisé le chêne,
Qui seul était mon soutien. ,
De son inconstante haleine,
Le zéphyr ou l'aquilon,
Depuis ce jour me promène,
De la forêt à la plaine, ,
De la montagne au vallon. ,
Je vais où le vent me mène, ,
Sans me plaindre ou m'effrayer: ,
Je vais où va toute chose, ,
Où va la feuille de rose,
Et la feuille de laurier.

   
The Leaf

"From your tree-branch now cut off,
Poor dried and withered leaf,
Where are you going?" "I don't know.
The storm has smashed the oak
That was my sole support.
With its inconstant breath
The west wind or the north
Has led me since that day
From the forest to the field,
From the mountain to the vale.
Where the wind blows I must go,
I do not quake or quarrel:
I go where all else goes,
Both the leaf of the rose
And the leaf of the laurel."

 

Ugo Foscolo, 1778-1827:
"Alla Musa"

        Pur tu copia versavi alma di canto
su le mie labbra un tempo, Aonia Diva,
quando de' miei fiorenti anni fuggiva
la stagion prima, e dietro erale intanto

        questa, che meco per la via del pianto
scende di Lete ver la muta riva:
non udito or t'invoco; ohimè! soltanto
una favilla del tuo spirto è viva.

        E tu fuggisti in compagnia dell'ore,
o Dea! tu pur mi lasci alle pensose
membranze, e del futuro al timor cieco.

        Però mi accorgo, e mel ridice amore,
che mal ponno sfogar rade, operose
rime il dolor che deve albergar meco.


To the Muse

You still poured the abundant soul of song
Upon my lips awhile, Aonian Muse,
When the brief season of my flowering years
Was taking flight, but this later one walks long

Beside me on the path of loss and pain
That draws us down to Lethe's silent shore:
I still invoke you, but am heard no more,
And of your spirit only sparks remain.

For you have fled, escorted by the Hours,
O Goddess! leaving heavy memories
And panic fear of what is yet to be.

But I know, and love repeats it many times,
That my laborious and scattered rhymes
Can scarcely speak the grief that dwells with me.

 

Théophile Gautier, 1811-72:
"La dernière feuille"

Dans la forêt chauve et rouillée
Il ne reste plus au rameau
Qu'une pauvre feuille oubliée,
Rien qu'une feuille et qu'un oiseau.

Il ne reste plus dans mon âme
Qu'un seul amour pour y chanter,
Mais le vent d'automne qui brame
Ne permet pas de l'écouter.

L'oiseau s'en va, la feuille tombe,
L'amour s'éteint, car c'est l'hiver.
Petit oiseau, viens sur ma tombe
Chanter, quand l'arbre sera vert !


The Last Leaf

On the branch there's nothing left
In the bare and blighted wood
But a poor forgotten leaf,
Just one leaf there, and one bird.

In my soul there's nothing left
But one love, which if I could
I would sing. But howling wind
Would keep my song from being heard.

Winter now, my love is dead,
Leaf is fallen, bird not seen.
Little bird, come to my tomb
And sing, when trees are green!

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