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Paul Valery

(1871 - 1945 / Sete / France)

Les pas


Tes pas, enfants de mon silence,
Saintement, lentement placés,
Vers le lit de ma vigilance
Procèdent muets et glacés.

Personne pure, ombre divine,
Qu'ils sont doux, tes pas retenus !
Dieux !... tous les dons que je devine
Viennent à moi sur ces pieds nus !

Si, de tes lèvres avancées,
Tu prépares pour l'apaiser,
A l'habitant de mes pensées
La nourriture d'un baiser,

Ne hâte pas cet acte tendre,
Douceur d'être et de n'être pas,
Car j'ai vécu de vous attendre,
Et mon coeur n'était que vos pas.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

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  • Dimitris(Jimmy) Psachos (6/18/2007 12:41:00 AM)

    Great fellas, thanks for the firework translations! It's so marvellous to watch a gifted french symbolist, descibing so lonely pictures... (Report) Reply

  • Dave Hayman (3/10/2006 7:39:00 PM)

    Good job on the translation, Jan! I think I like your version better than that by David Paul in the official Vol.1 of Valery's Collected Works (which is long out of print and damned hard to find!) . Here is Paul's version:

    The Footsteps

    Your footsteps, children of my silence,
    With gradual and saintly pace
    Towards the bed of my watchfulness,
    Muted and frozen, approach.

    Pure one, divine shadow,
    How gentle are your cautious steps!
    Gods! ...all the gifts that I can guess
    Come to me on those naked feet!

    If, with your lips advancing,
    You are preparing to appease
    The inhabitant of my thoughts
    With the sustenance of a kiss,

    Do not hasten the tender act,
    Bliss of being and not being,
    For I have lived on waiting for you,
    And my heart was only your footsteps.

    (The original appeared in some French journal in Nov.1921.) (Report) Reply

  • Jan Schreiber (3/19/2005 10:13:00 AM)

    Footsteps

    Children of my silence,
    your saintly steps, unrushed,
    approach my pallet’s vigil,
    frozen, timeless, hushed.

    Pure one, divinest shadow,
    steps verging on retreat,
    Gods – what gifts I envision
    borne on those naked feet!

    If with lips pressed toward me
    you deign to nourish this
    dweller in my obsessions
    with an appeasing kiss,

    don’t hasten to your mercy.
    Being and not being is sweet.
    My life is a vivid waiting,
    my heart your padding feet.

    (translation by Jan Schreiber) (Report) Reply

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