Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Théophile Gautier: Sérénade/ Serenade/ Serenata

Sur le balcon où tu te penches
Je veux monter... efforts perdus!
Il est trop haut, et tes mains blanches
N'atteignent pas mes bras tendus.

Pour déjouer ta duègne avare,
Jette un collier, un ruban d'or ;
Ou des cordes de ta guitare
Tresse une échelle, ou bien encor...

Ôte tes fleurs, défais ton peigne,
Penche sur moi tes cheveux longs,
Torrent de jais dont le flot baigne
Ta jambe ronde et tes talons.

Aidé par cette échelle étrange,
Légèrement je gravirai,
Et jusqu'au ciel, sans être un ange,
Dans les parfums je monterai!

Théophile Gautier


I want to scale the balcony
over which you lean—a waste of energy!
It is too high and your candent hands
won't reach my outstretched arms.

Thwart your stingy chaperone
and throw me your necklace,
a golden yellow ribbon,
or from guitar strings
plait a ladder, or once more...

Release the flowers from your hair,
undo your comb and send down upon me
the long jet-black tresses whose waterfall
cascades over shapely legs and heels.

By such droll aid ascending
I'll waft up airily and, with no need
to be angelic, will mount right up
to heaven in your scent.



Al balcón sobre que te estás inclinando
quiero subir—¡Esfuerzo en vano!
Es demasiado alto, y tus manos cándidas
no pueden alcanzar mis brazos levantados.

Para desbaratar a tu dueña avara,
échame un collar, una cinta de oro;
o con las cuerdas de tu guitarra
trenza una escalera de nudos, o otra vez...

Quita las flores, deshaz el peine,
y sobre mí deja caer tu melena,
cuya cascada azabache baña
tus piernas torneadas y talones.

Por esta escala extraña,
ligeramente subiré,
y sin ser un ángel, hasta el cielo
ascenderé en tu perfume!


E. A. Costa October 25, 2016 Granada, Nicaragua
N.B.: The poem is from Gautier's España and is many-layered, with
a hint of the ingenuity of the poets and troupadours of  Provençal 
applied to the Spanish serenade. The first hint of even deeper drollery
are the lady's guitar strings (cordes de ta guitare) which are proper
to the serenader not the serenaded. How did they get there and 
become hers? Hasn't the serendader already passed up his
guitar?There follows the deliberate use of the archaic form
of encore in bien encor, missing an “e” followed by ellipsis.
This seems no more than the equivalent use of the English “yet again”
when enumerating, as in “still yet” and “or once more”, as if just
coming up with a new idea to try out. But here also may be hidden
an “again” that suggests, with upstairs guitar strings, this is not
the first time. The last part is obvious: the serenader reaching his
“heaven”is no angel—nor perhaps the serenaded.

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