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La caravane

Chausson

La caravane humaine, au Sahara du monde
Par ce chemin des ans qui n’a plus de retour,
S’en va, traînant le pied, brûlée aux feux du jour,
Et buvant sur ses bras la sueur qui l’inonde.

Le grand lion rugit et la tempête gronde;
A l’horizon fuyard, ni minaret, ni tour.
La seule ombre qu’on ait c’est l’ombre du vautour
Qui traverse le ciel cherchant sa proie immonde.

L’on avance toujours et voici que l’on voit
Quelque chose de vert que l’on se montre au doigt!
C’est un bois de cyprês semé de blanches pierres.
Dieu, pour vous reposer, dans le désert du temps,
Comme des oasis a mis les cimetières.
Couchez-vous et dormez, voyageurs haletants!

Théophile Gautier

The caravan

 

The human caravan in the Sahara of the world,
on this, the pathway of years which has no way back,
marches on, dragging its feet, burned by the fire of the day,
and drinking of the drenching sweat upon their arms.

The great lion roars, and the tempest growls;
on the fleeing horizon, neither minaret nor tower.
The only shade to be had is the shadow of the vulture
crossing the sky, seeking its dreadful prey.

They go steadily on, and now they see
something green which they point out to each other!
It is a cypress wood scattered with white tombstones.
The Lord, to give you respite in the desert of time,
has placed the cemeteries like oases.
Lie down and sleep, breathless travelers!

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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