Tuesday, 6 January 2009

A Poem for HBA

Because you asked,

Le sylphe.

Je suis un sylphe, une ombre, un rien, un rêve,
Hôte de l'air, esprit mystérieux,
Léger parfum que le zéphyr enlève,
Anneau vivant qui joint l'homme et les dieux.

Du mon corps pur les rayons diaphanes
Flottent mêlés à la vapeur du soir.
Mais je me cache aux regards des profanes,
Et l'âme seule, en songe, peut me voir.

Rasant du lac la mappe étincelante,
D'un vol léger j'effleure les roseaux,
Et, balancé sur mon aile brillante,
J'aime à me voir dans le cristal des eaux.

Dans vos jardins quelquefois je voltige,
Et, m'enivrant de suaves odeurs,
Sans que mon poids fasse incliner leur tige,
Je me suspends au calices des fleurs.

Dans mes foyers j'entre avec confiance,
Et, récréant son œil clos à demi,
J'aime à verser des songes d'innocence
Sur le front pur d'un enfant endormi.

Lorsque sur vous la nuit jette son voile,
Je glisse aux cieux comme un long filet d'or,
Et les mortels disent: "C'est une étoile
Qui d'un ami nous présage la mort."
Alexandre Dumas, père.

If I had time for it, I would attempt a translation in verse, but for meaning you can refer to this poorly realized Victorian rendering - it sets my teeth on edge but there you are, it was all I could find in a hurry.

A vague, mysterious spirit of the air,—
A shadow and a dream,—a Sylph am I,—
A light perfume, away the zephyrs bear,— 
A living link between the earth and sky. 

Of this pure form the soft, transparent rays 
Attemper, as they float, the mists of eve; 
But e'er I shun the gross, material gaze :
The soul alone can me in dreams perceive.

The summer lake still smoother, as I brush 
Its shining surface with my viewless wing, 
I love to balance on the tallest rush,
And see my own sweet image as I swing.

At times I flutter in your early bowers,
Where dewy bines their luscious odour shed,
And set my momentary foot on flowers,
That bloom the more, but never bend the head.

Your hearths I haunt, and there in slumber steep 
The child, that nods at noon upon the knee, 
And gild his wonted hour of rosy sleep 
With smiling visions, innocent as he. 

The night return'd, a thread of glimpsy gold, 
A running spark, I glitter and ascend,
And mortals cry: "a shooting-star behold,
"The mournful presage of a dying friend!"

2 comments:

hba said...

Thank heavens for the translation! And it wasn't so bad, quite lovely actually - a bit flowery, but the Victorians were, weren't they?

I'm sure I've seen such a creature, in the depths of Kahruvel no less!

Young Geoffrion said...

Dumas has just the right balance of menace and lyric, the Victorian tends to the floral, as you say.

I have the sense that our existence in Second Life is sylphic, immaterial and airborne. Would that it were immortal, too!