Sunday, February 23, 2020

Dans la forêt étrange, c'est la nuit

In the Forest
by Germain Nouveau

Night in the uncanny forest falls;
with a deepest black silence it calls;

In the forest, here brown and there white,
In milky tears sifts down the moon's light.

A summer wind, blowing who knows whence,
Wanders in dream like soul without sense

And, under the eyes of starry beam,
The forest sings as the rain-sounds teem.

At times there arrives the sighful moan
From far blue of bird or wolf alone.

At others there comes the scent of lair
At the hour asps sleep in the cold air,

The hour when love shivers in its nest,
The hour wolfsbane in secret is dressed,

Where the one who hides a cherished sin
Thinks and feels alone, far from all men.

-- Yet in the high sky the good moon gleams
And is pouring with her honeyed beams

Her calm soul and kind pallor on heaps,
A red-roan herd, of stones as they sleep.

My translation. A trickier poem to translate than it at first looks. You can find the French and another English translation here. Germain Nouveau was a Symbolist poet of the late nineteenth century; he was an acquaintance of Rimbaud, and is perhaps the only one in Rimbaud's circle who was really his equal in the ability to combine poetic technique with originality. Most of his work was published posthumously, though, and what he did publish in his lifetime was usually under various pseudonyms, and, being also much less wild than Rimbaud, he is not as well known.

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