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French Poem Readings

“El Desdichado” de Gerard de Nerval

Camille Chevalier-Karfis By Camille Chevalier-Karfis on November 11, 2007
"El Desdichado" de Gerard de Nerval

Today, I’m going to present you a rather complicated poem, which speaks of French historic characters and refers to legends from France and the Roman and Greek antiquity. Rather dark, yet full of hope, this poem is gorgeous and profound, and one can find a new meaning with each reading.


1 – PoĂšme : El Desdichado

Je suis le TĂ©nĂ©breux, – le Veuf, – l’InconsolĂ©,
Le Prince d’Aquitaine Ă  la Tour abolie :
Ma seule Etoile est morte, – et mon luth constellĂ©
Porte le Soleil noir de la MĂ©lancolie.

Dans la nuit du Tombeau, Toi qui m’as consolĂ©,
Rends-moi le Pausilippe et la mer d’Italie,
La fleur qui plaisait tant à mon coeur désolé,
Et la treille oĂč le Pampre Ă  la Rose s’allie.

Suis-je Amour ou PhĂ©bus ?… Lusignan ou Biron ?
Mon front est rouge encor du baiser de la Reine ;
J’ai rĂȘvĂ© dans la Grotte oĂč nage la sirĂšne…

Et j’ai deux fois vainqueur traversĂ© l’AchĂ©ron :
Modulant tour Ă  tour sur la lyre d’OrphĂ©e
Les soupirs de la Sainte et les cris de la FĂ©e.

2 – Traduction

I am the Dark One, – the Widower, – the Unconsoled
The Aquitaine Prince whose Tower is destroyed:
My only star is dead,- and my constellated lute
Bears the black Sun of Melancholia.

In the night of the Tomb, You who comforted me,
Give me back Mount Posillipo and the Italian sea,
The flower that my afflicted heart liked so much
And the treillised vineyard where the grapevine unites with the rose.

Am I Love or Phoebus ?… Lusignan or Biron ?
My forehead is still red from the Queen’s kiss ;
I dreamt of the Cave where the mermaid swims

Twice victorious I crossed Acheron :
Taking turn to play on Orpheus’ lyre
The sighs of the Saint and the Fairy’s screams.


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