El Desdichado – French Poem by Gerard de Nerval

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Gerard de Nerval’s classical French poem “El Desdichado”: French transcript with English translation. Audio recording & analysis in my French poetry audiobook.

Today, I’m going to present you a rather complicated French poem, which speaks of French historical 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.

Press on the button to reveal the English translation.

Free French Poem & English Translation

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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.

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.

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.

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.

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…

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

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.

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

Learn French with the most famous French poems, such as “Demain, dĂšs l’aube”, “La Cigale et la Fourmi”, “Parfum Exotique” with my Classic French Poetry audiobooks.

  1. French poem read twice,
  2. explanation of the text and the meaning,
  3. life of the author’s life (Hugo, La Fontaine, Baudelaire

in simple French with English translation.


Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Camille Chevalier-Karfis

Born and raised in Paris, I have been teaching today's French to adults for 23+ years in the US and France. Based on my students' goals and needs, I've created unique downloadable French audiobooks focussing on French like it's spoken today, for all levels. Most of my audiobooks are recorded at several speeds to help you conquer the modern French language. Good luck with your studies and remember, repetition is the key!

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