William Makepeace Thackeray

(1811-1863 / India)

Le Grenier

Je viens revoir l'asile ou ma jeunesse
De la misere a subi les lecons.
J'avais vingt ans, une folle maitresse,
De francs amis et l'amour des chansons.
Bravant le monde et les sots et les sages,
Sans avenir, riche de mon printemps,
Leste et joyeux je montais six etages,
Dans un grenier qu'on est bien a vingt ans.

C'est un grenier, point ne veux qu'on l'ignore.
La fut mon lit, bien chetif et bien dur;
La fut ma table; et je retrouve encore
Trois pieds d'un vers charbonnes sur le mur.
Apparaissez, plaisirs de mon bel age,
Que d'un coup d'aile a fustiges le temps,
Vingt fois pour vous j'ai ma montre en gage.
Dans un grenier qu'on est bien a vingt ans!

Lisette ici doit surtout apparaitre,
Vive, jolie, avec un frais chapeau;
Deja sa main a l'etroite fenetre
Suspend son schal, en guise de rideau.
Sa robe aussi va parer ma couchette;
Respecte, Amour, ses plis longs et flottans.
Jai su depuis qui payait sa toilette
Dans un grenier qu'on est bien a vingt ans!

A table un jour, jour de grande richesse,
De mes amis les voix brillaient en choeur,
Quand jusqu'ici monte on cri d'allegresse;
A Marengo Bonaparte est vainqueur.
Le canon gronde; un autre chant commence;
Nous celebrons tant de faits eclatans.
Les rois jamais n'envahiront la France.
Dans un grenier qu'on est bien a vingt ans!

Quittons ce toit ou ma raison s'enivre.
Oh! qu'ils sont loin ces jours si regrettes!
J'echangerais ce qu'il me reste a vivre
Contre un des mois qu'ici Dieu ma comptes.
Pour rever gloire, amour, plaisir, folie,
Pour depenser sa vie en peu d'instans,
D'un long espoir pour la voir embellie,
Dans un grenier qu'on est bien a vingt ans!

The Garret

With pensive eyes the little room I view,
Where, in my youth, I weathered it so long;
With a wild mistress, a stanch friend or two,
And a light heart still breaking into song:
Making a mock of life, and all its cares,
Rich in the glory of my rising sun,
Lightly I vaulted up four pair of stairs,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Yes; 'tis a garret—let him know't who will—
There was my bed—full hard it was and small;
My table there—and I decipher still
Half a lame couplet charcoaled on the wall.
Ye joys, that Time hath swept with him away,
Come to mine eyes, ye dreams of love and fun;
For you I pawned my watch how many a day,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

And see my little Jessy, first of all;
She comes with pouting lips and sparkling eyes:
Behold, how roguishly she pins her shawl
Across the narrow casement, curtain-wise;
Now by the bed her petticoat glides down,
And when did woman look the worse in none?
I have heard since who paid for many a gown,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

One jolly evening, when my friends and I
Made happy music with our songs and cheers,
A shout of triumph mounted up thus high,
And distant cannon opened on our ears:
We rise,—we join in the triumphant strain,—
Napoleon conquers—Austerlitz is won—
Tyrants shall never tread us down again,
In the brave days when I was twenty-one.

Let us begone—the place is sad and strange—
How far, far off, these happy times appear;
All that I have to live I'd gladly change
For one such month as I have wasted here—
To draw long dreams of beauty, love, and power,
From founts of hope that never will outrun,
And drink all life's quintessence in an hour,
Give me the days when I was twenty-one!

Submitted: Wednesday, April 07, 2010

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