Saturday, September 10, 2016

Paul Valéry: Hélène/ Helen (English translation)

Azur! c’est moi… Je viens des grottes de la mort
Entendre l’onde se rompre aux degrés sonores,
Et je revois les galères dans les aurores
Ressusciter de l’ombre au fil des rames d’or.

Mes solitaires mains appellent les monarques
Dont la barbe de sel amusait mes doigts purs ;
Je pleurais. Ils chantaient leurs triomphes obscurs
Et les golfes enfuis aux poupes de leurs barques.

J’entends les conques profondes et les clairons
Militaires rythmer le vol des avirons ;
Le chant clair des rameurs enchaîne le tumulte,

Et les Dieux, à la proue héroïque exaltés
Dans leur sourire antique et que l’écume insulte,
Tendent vers moi leurs bras indulgents et sculptés.

Paul Valéry


Blue of sea and sky! It is I, Helen, come again
from the grottoes of death--
to hear the wave break into measured song
and see again the black ships at dawn
reborn out of the darkness to the score
of their golden oars.

My lonely hands call to these kings
whose salt beards used to amuse my virgin fingers.
I was weeping and they chanting the dark triumphs
fled astern their ships.

I hear again the low-voiced conch
and war trumpets beat time for the flying oars--
hear again the blue-skied song of the rowers
enfettering the chaos of the storm.

And these gods stock still and proud on heroic prows,
in archaic smiles and mocked by foaming sea--
these gods wave their sculptured, indulgent arms to me!


E. A. Costa  11 septiembre 2016   Granada, Nicaragua ____________________________________________
N.B.: The imperfects used by Valéry in the second stanza
put Helen at Troy watching the arrival of the Greek Fleet
and, after Homer, lonely and torn about her plight. "Archaic
Smile" is a mysterious and conventionalized smile on the
Greek sculptures of the Archaic Period, BC 600-480.

No comments: