“Les Pas” de Paul Valéry

In this classical yet sensual and very musical poem, Valéry describes two people: the “I” who represents the poet and a feminine entity who is approaching.
Ghost? Fairy? Or would it be the poet’s muse?

“Les Pas” de Paul Valéry – French Poem

Tes pas, enfants de mon silence,
Saintement, lentement placés,
Vers le lit de ma vigilance
Procèdent muets et glacés.

Personne pure, ombre divine,
Qu’ils sont doux, tes pas retenus !
Dieux !… tous les dons que je devine
Viennent à moi sur ces pieds nus !

Si, de tes lèvres avancées,
Tu prépares pour l’apaiser,
À l’habitant de mes pensées
La nourriture d’un baiser,

Ne hâte pas cet acte tendre,
Douceur d’être et de n’être pas,
Car j’ai vécu de vous attendre,
Et mon coeur n’était que vos pas.

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Paul Valéry

English Translation of the French Poem

The footsteps

Your footsteps, children of my silence,
Saintly, slowly placed
Towards the bed of my watchfulness,
Approach, muted and frozen.

Pure one, divine shadow,
How gentle, your cautious steps are!
Gods! …all the gifts that I can guess
Come to me on those naked feet!

If, with your lips advancing,
You are preparing to appease
The inhabitant of my thoughts
With the sustenance of a kiss,

Do not hurry this tender act,
Bliss of being and not being,
For I have lived for waiting for you,
And my heart was only your footsteps.

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Paul Valéry in his costume of French “Académicien”.