Elle a passé, la jeune fille

Here is a poem from Gerard de Nerval, dandy, dilettante, bohemian, the Boy George of mid nineteenth century Paris. He is writing about what he sees on a walk through the gardens of the Luxembourg Palace, then, as now, a favourite place for Parisians to take a stroll, particularly on a Sunday. In such a place it is easy to check out the pretty girls and imagine a contact.

Une allée du Luxembourg

Elle a passé, la jeune fille
Vive et preste comme un oiseau
À la main une fleur qui brille,
À la bouche un refrain nouveau.

C’est peut-être la seule au monde
Dont le coeur au mien répondrait,
Qui venant dans ma nuit profonde
D’un seul regard l’éclaircirait !

Mais non, – ma jeunesse est finie …
Adieu, doux rayon qui m’as lui, –
Parfum, jeune fille, harmonie…
Le bonheur passait, – il a fui !

Gérard de Nerval

From <http://www.poetica.fr/poeme-403/gerard-de-nerval-une-allee-du-luxembourg/&gt;

Poet walking in the park – sees pretty girl with a flower and a song – cue fantasy of love and harmony – but no, she is gone and poet back to reality. Does that happen every time we see a girl?

The Poetry Dude


4 thoughts on “Elle a passé, la jeune fille

    1. Thanks for the comment. The comparison with Boy G was of course for flamboyance, not lyrical talent.

      I liked your poems. My preference would be for the long from versions rather than the haiku, there is a bit more to engage with. I liked both. Were they inspired by a real experience or had you just come out of a gallery displayin a version of the Three Graces, or perhaps Renoir’s les Baigneuses?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No – it was a very real and yet hallucinatory experience. One of them was a past student of mine from class. They were so startlingly out of place in the graveyard and yes, they did remind me of the Three Graces (or Fates, or Nayads or what have you). I actually dislike Haiku myself. Thanks for reading.


  1. I too haven’t read this one, beautiful writer and such an interesting perspective on life, especially in the works which describe his hallucinations and descents into madness.


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