(For those who may be interested, this poem by Paul Verlaine presents more difficulties than his other rhymed quatrains I have read, but then this may only be a personal feeling. T. Wignesan)
Paris cannot lay claim to beauty but through its history,
But this history is by beauty all through possessed!
The river Seine lies so absurdly sheltered,
Yet its bright green hue all on its own deserves glory.
Paris cannot be thought gay but by virtue of its chatter
Yet this loquaciousness, a teeming vulgar vice,
Springs from a throng of tongues in its voice,
Stirring this insipid linguistic stew into spicy banter.
Paris can hardly be considered wise but by the demure
Flux of its populace and its diverse factions,
Even if it can engender revolutions
It lies in ambush in the shade with its sense of Order.
Paris can boast not just with its charming Girl
Who has no need to envy those who’re Exotic
But for harmless wrongs and sins not quite endemic
Such that they come to pass in a detached swirl.
Paris thus may be held to be good but for its flighty
Inebriation with lust and with pleasure,
Nothing much more than a flirtation with desire
Such pleasure as at the expense of a brother be duty.
Paris doesn’t display anything as sad and as cruel
As the poet we see by the year or at random
Dying of ennui under clinical surveillance
Not far from the old worker fraternal.
Long life to Paris, likewise for its history,
For its eloquence and its Girl, naïve
Products of an art both perverse and primitive
And die the poet purging himself by duty!
© T. Wignesan – Paris,2013