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Duparc - La vague et la cloche

La vague et la cloche

Duparc (1871)

Une fois, terrassé par un puissant breuvage,
J'ai rêvé que parmi les vagues et le bruit
De la mer je voguais sans fanal dans la nuit,
Morne rameur, n'ayant plus l'espoir du rivage.

L'océan me crachait ses baves sur le front
Et le vent me glaçait d'horreur jusqu'aux entrailles.
Les vagues s'écroulaient ainsi que des murailles,
Avec ce rythme lent qu'un silence interrompt.

Puis tout changea. La mer et sa noire mêlée
Sombrèrent. Sous mes pieds s'effondra le plancher
De la barque... Et j'étais seul dans un vieux clocher,
Chevauchant avec rage une cloche ébranlée.

J'étreignais la criarde opiniâtrément,
Convulsif, et fermant dans l'effort mes paupières;
Le grondement faisait trembler les vielles pierres,
Tant j'activais sans fin le lourd balancement.

Pourquoi n'as-tu pas dit, ô rêve! où Dieu nous mène?
Pourquoi n'as-tu pas dit s'ils ne finiraient pas,
L'inutile travail et l'éternel fracas
Dont est faite la vie, hélas! la vie humaine?

François Coppée

The wave and the bell


Once, when struck down by a powerful beverage,
I dreamed that, among the waves and the noise
of the sea, I was rowing without beacon in the night,
dismal oarsman, with no hope of the coast left.

The ocean spat its foam on my brow
and the wind froze me to the gut with dread.
The waves crumpled like walls,
with this slow rhythm that a silence interrupted.

Then all changed. The sea and its black brawl
sank. Beneath my feet the bottom of the boat
caved in... And I was alone in an old belfry,
sitting with fury astride a ringing bell.

Obstinately I was gripping the screaming thing,
convulsive, and closing my eyelids with the effort;
the rumbling set the old stones trembling,
so ceaselessly was I actuating the heavy swing.

Why did you not say, o dream, where God is leading us?
Why did you not say if they would not end,
the useless toil and the eternal tumult
of which life, alas, human life is made?

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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