by Arthur Rimbaud
You are not serious when you are seventeen;
- a fair night, thick with stein and lemonade,
bright cafes, chandeliers in sheen,
- you walk the green linden promenade.
The lindens smell fine on fine June nights,
the eyes close from breeze sweet and clear,
the wind is charged with noise -- not far the city lights --
perfumed with vine and perfumed with beer....
Here we see a somber blue on a little felt,
by a little branch set in frame,
quilted by malignant star that melts
with shivers soft, a small, fair flame.
June night! Seventeen! You drink deep;
youth's sap is a heady champagne....
You wander, on your lips still keep
a kiss; a quivering soul, it remains....
Through novels the crazy heart robinsonades
when in the streetlight's clarity pale
a girl walks by with her charms displayed,
though partly by her father's collar veiled....
And, as she finds you all innocent,
while tapping by in little heels,
she sudden-turns, full of life up-pent;
- on your lips die melodic peals....
You are in love, till August placed.
You are in love. - Your poems she takes in fun.
Your friends have left; you are in poor taste.
- Then one night she writes, your worshiped one!
- That night... - you return to the cafe-sheen,
asking for the beer-stein and the lemonade.
You are not serious when you are seventeen
and you still have green lindens on the promenade.
Rimbaud is a challenge, always. Here is the French; here is an English translation by Wyatt Mason.