Une allée du Luxembourg . . . In the Luxembourg Gardens . . . En un jardín de París

This, for a man of a certain age (not young), can be a rather sad poem! Below you will find Gerard de Nerval’s French text (from the nineteenth century), combined with my version of his lines in English. Following this is a Spanish prose-poetry version. Gérard de Nerval (1808–1855) was the nom-de-plume of the French writer, poet and translator Gérard Labrunie, a major figure of French romanticism.

Une allée du Luxembourg

In the Luxembourg Gardens

Cecelia Shaw, 3 April 2020, watercolor and pen by William EatonElle a passé, la jeune fille

As I strolled, a young woman passed,

Vive et preste comme un oiseau

So light, she might take wing.

À la main une fleur qui brille,

In her hand the brightest flower,

À la bouche un refrain nouveau.

Her lips a new tune must sing.

 
C’est peut-être la seule au monde

In all the world she might have been

Dont le cœur au mien répondrait,

The only woman for me.

Qui venant dans ma nuit profonde

Would she come into my darkness,

D’un seul regard l’éclaircirait !

A glance bringing dawn to me.

 
Mais non, – ma jeunesse est finie …

But no, of course, my youth long gone,

Adieu, doux rayon qui m’as lui, –

And good-bye, too, your gentle light,

Parfum, jeune fille, harmonie…

Your fresh smell, your harmonies.

Le bonheur passait, – il a fui !

Joy’s not passed; it’s taken flight.

Español

En un jardín de París

Mientras paseaba, una joven pasó, ligera y listo para volar.
En su mano una flor brillante. Sus labios cantaron una nueva canción.
Tal vez en el mundo la joven fue la única, el único corazón para mí.
Una vez viniera a la oscuridad, podría traerme el amanecer.

Pero mi juventud, por supuesto, ella se ha ido, y adiós su suave luz.
Adiós la fragancia fresca y adiós sus melodías.

Alegría no ha pasado: ella ha echado a volar.
 
— French poem by Gérard de Nerval. English and Spanish versions, as well as the accompanying drawing, by William Eaton.

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