Sunday, 26 June 2011

The Waking (Marceline Desbordes-Valmore)

This is a reading of a new better translation of "Le Réveil" by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859). My old translation of this poem among others by her can be found in my previous post. There is precious little by her in translation either published or online for reasons explained there.

The music is Rachmaninov playing the end of Chopin's Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2 in E Flat Major.

The Waking

Upon this bed of reeds, could I go back to sleep?
I sense the fragrant air surrounding your body;
Your mouth, it is a flower whose perfume devours deep;
Come closer, oh my treasure!, engulf only me.
Awake to my melody!

But this breath of love, this kiss which I desire so,
On your lips I still dare not relish. I wait by.
With your heart’s consent, I would rise and heaven know;
Yet your sleep goes on, and this waiting makes me die:
I dare not relish what is nigh.

Under banana trees, we’d find a shady place.
The birds will sing at the sight of our lovers’ play.
The sun is jealous; in a cloud it hides its face,
It is in your eyes only that I seek the day:
Come light my love! I will stay.

No, no you sleep no more, you share my violet flame;
Your kisses are the nectar whose pollen makes bloom.
Your heart sighs; do you know my spirit feels the same?
Here take it from my mouth; it would dispel your gloom.
Hide me under your perfume!


  1. Beautiful video, Okei. You're doing a wonderful job of combining recitation, music and imagery. :)

  2. Oh, Carrie! That this worked at all is a complete miracle! Imagine if a choir had to sing something and the music were then super-imposed on top... at least this is only reading, but still there's a need for a kind of harmony so I'm glad you found it worked and hoping I don't offend musical sensitivities. But the choice of music is amazing for this poem! (It came to me subconsciously...I had this random thought "e flat major", and I googled it :^) - I know nothing about music!) And I realized after posting an amazing coincidence... this is item 92 in my blog, and it's Chopin Op. 9 No. 2... how cool is that?!

    I also found that because I was reading it, it really made me notice the stiltedness of my translation, and how it sounded just like a translation, not a poem in English, so even after I thought I was happy with it, I ended up having to go through quite a few revisions to get to where it is now.

  3. I enjoyed this Video very much indeed.

    You do it so well dear Jamintoo.

    Thank you and take care.

  4. Wow-put simply--mushy mushy poem

    But may I add
    You are doing a remarkable job, I will repeat that thought. Worthy of being shown in the Art Museums shows. I've been to a few shows and certainly this is well done. Good job

  5. Mushy-mushy, but also "airy-fairy", lol... I find it more dreamy and playful in its romanticism. Like the sweet west wind Zephyrus, who is both ever-faithful to the goddess of spring Flora, yet also ever flying by.

    Thanks for the compliments! And thank you for watching! :)

  6. The Risk and the Timepiece (René Char: 1907-1988)

    You who rouse, passing between the girl in radiant bloom and the man on the trapeze, be the one for whom the butterfly touches the roadside flowers.

    Stay with the wave at the second when its heart expires. You will see.

    Sensitive also to the saliva on the branch.

    No longer choosing between forgetting and learning well.

    May you keep in the wind of your bough your dearest friends.

    She carries the Word does the border bee who, across hates or ambushes, goes to lay her honey on the fancy of a cloud.

    Night is no longer surprised by the shutter that man closes.

    A speck of dust falls on the hand busy composing the poem – it strikes down both, hand and poem.