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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Rimbaud again: Le Dormeur du Val

Le Dormeur du Val (The Sleeper in the Valley): it's a beautiful video, made by a lover of Rimbaud's verses, though I think anything added to the words overloads the poem. These verses are incredible; it's pure poetry, and they should be left as they are, they contain their images and they contain their music.

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.

To translate the verses is dangerous. The simplicity of the poem is illusory; the images, and their rhythm, embedded in the words, keep their full sense only in the original. It is about the subtleties of French lexicon, which are unique to French.

I found an English version, and the author left it as an open source, inviting the readers to come with suggestions:

It is a green hollow where a stream twitters
Wildly hanging on the grasses rags
Of silver; where the sun from the proud mountain
Shines: it is a little valley bubbling with sunlight.

A soldier young, open-mouthed, bare-headed,
The nape of his neck bathing in the cool blue watercress,
Sleeps; he is spread out on the grass, under the skies,
Pale on his bed of green where the light rains down.

His feet in the gladiolas, he lies sleeping. Smiling as
A sick child would smile, he is having a nap:
Nature, cradle him warmly: he is cold.

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




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