“Le Dormeur du Val” d’Arthur Rimbaud Translation

Author: Camille Chevalier-Karfis

This poem, written by the 16-year old Rimbaud, is partially in the classic form but already announces his future avant-garde poems. When he wrote this piece, France was at war with Prussia, and Rimbaud was frequently running away from home and traveling by foot. It is therefore possible that the scene described in the poem is a real scene.

1- “Le Dormeur du Val” d’Arthur Rimbaud – French Poem

C’est un trou de verdure, où chante une rivière
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D’argent; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit: c’est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort; il est étendu dans l’herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme:
Nature, berce-le chaudement: il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

This poem is part of my “Easy French Poetry” audiobooks : enunciated and natural recordings of famous French poems + explanations in easy French + transcript with the English translation

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2- English Translation of the French Poem

It’s a green hollow, where a river is singing
Crazily hanging on the grasses rags
Of silver; where the sun, from the proud mountain,
Is shinning: it’s a little valley bubbling with sunlight.

A young soldier, his mouth open, his head bare,
And the nape of his neck bathing in cool blue watercress,
Is sleeping; he is stretched out on the grass, under the skies,
Pale in his green bed where the light falls like rain.

Feet in the gladiolas, he is sleeping.Smiling like
A sick child would smile, he takes a nap:
Nature, rock him warmly: he is cold.

Fragrances do not make his nostrils quiver;
He sleeps in the sun, hand on the breast,
Peacefully. He has two red holes in his right side.

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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