Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Day 1: 'Clair de lune' by Paul Verlaine

Here's the first poem! I thought I'd start with a classic, so I can compare myself later to the 46 million translations that have preceded mine. Here is Paul Verlaine's 'Clair de lune'. Verlaine himself advocates "De la musique avant toute chose" (Music above all else) in poetry, so I have added a 'poetic' word here and there in a way I wouldn't dare to do with most translations, in an attempt to retain the musicality of the lines. Translating rhymed poetry is always a challenge - losing the rhyme entirely would destroy the poetry, but twisting the sense or adding random words in order to create a rhyme is no good either. This is obviously very much a first draft, as all my NaPoTraMo efforts will necessarily be - I'm going to have to learn to cast aside my perfectionist tendencies this month! Comments welcome (while bearing in mind the unfinished nature of this translation..), as well as suggestions for other poems to translate!


Your soul is a landscape highly prized
Bewitched by music and by masquerade
Where lute-players and dancers go disguised
Sad beneath their fantastical parade.
All tell, while singing in a minor key
Of all-conquering love, and life’s serene delight
A happiness they seem not to believe
As their song mingles softly with the moonlight,
With the calm moonlight, so lovely and so sad,
That sets the birds to dreaming in the trees
And the jets of water to their sobbing rapture,
The jets of water in their marble bays.


  1. I really like your twist on the NaPoWriMo challenge. I hope it goes well for you.

    1. Thank you! Good luck with yours - I'll have a look at your site!