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Tristesse de l'odalisque

David (1846)

Dans un soupir l'onde au rivage
Dit ses malheurs;
Pour consoler la fleur sauvage
L'aube a des pleurs.
Le vent du soir conte sa plainte
Aux vieux cyprès,
La tourterelle au térébinthe
Ses longs regrets.

Au flot dormant, quand tout repose,
Hors la douleur,
La lune parle et dit la cause
De sa pâleur.
Ton dôme blanc, Sainte Sophie,
Parle au ciel bleu,
Et tout pensif le ciel confie
Son rêve à Dieu!

Arbre ou tombeau, colombe ou rose,
Onde ou rocher,
Tout ici-bas a quelque chose
Pour s'épancher:
Moi! je n'ai rien qui me réponde,
Si je parlais…
La mer est là… verte et profonde,
Sous le palais.

Théophile Gautier

Sadness of the odalisque

 

In a sigh the wave tells of its grief
to the shore;
to console the wild flower
the dawn weeps;
The evening breeze relates its sorrow
to the ancient cypresses,
and the turtle-dove its endless regrets
to the terebinth.

To the sleeping wave, when all is resting,
besides pain,
the moon speaks and says why
it is so pale.
Your white dome, Hagia Sophia,
speaks to the blue sky,
and, lost in dreams, the sky confides
its dream to God!

Tree or tomb, dove or rose,
wave or rock,
everything here below
has the means to unburden itself:
I alone have nothing which would answer
were I to speak…
the sea is there… green and deep,
below the palace

 

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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