Votre âme est un paysage choisi

Here is a poem by Verlaine giving an impression of a romantic scene in the moonlight, tinged with a hint of melancholy or world-weariness. It is set in a garden and as such reminds me a bit of one of those poems by Anne de Noailles.

Clair de lune

Votre âme est un paysage choisi
Que vont charmant masques et bergamasques
Jouant du luth et dansant et quasi
Tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques.
Tout en chantant sur le mode mineur
L’amour vainqueur et la vie opportune,
Ils n’ont pas l’air de croire à leur bonheur
Et leur chanson se mêle au clair de lune,
Au calme clair de lune triste et beau,
Qui fait rêver les oiseaux dans les arbres
Et sangloter d’extase les jets d’eau,
Les grands jets d’eau sveltes parmi les marbres.

From Fêtes galantes (1869)

From <http://www.press.uchicago.edu/Misc/Chicago/853446.html&gt;

There is some kind of masked ball going on in a garden, with musicians and dancers under the moonlight, all playing to charm the soul of the poet’s lover. But they are half-hearted, they don’t fully believe in what they are doing or in the possibility of happiness. There is a dream-like quality to the scene, with birds and water fountains somehow in sympathy with the jaded languour of the declarations of love.

It’s an exercise in style, with no great depth, but the poem has its charm and I think a good representation of the somewhat self-satisfied mood of its time, the latter part of the 19th century.

The Poetry Dude


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