Paul Verlaine: Poems
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But now, being powerless and without might,
Implore the aid of one who never sees [...]
Nothing is sadder than a naked tree
Against a sky too sleek to hold a star."
Verlaine's poetry is collected here in translation from the original French, carrying over the poet's characteristic sensitivity, observation, and powers of invention––his poems stage discursive encounters with figures real and imagined, the wonders of the natural world, and with the language of oneself. The challenge of translating his musicality is one relegated to the limits of language itself; that place these innocent-appearing poems, at first doting on heartache and infatuation, keep as the underlying subject of desire, driving the lines with their translated tune. However one reads his work, these poems are vignettes of the poet who had a lasting impact on the Romantics and Symbolists and other next generations of writers, musicians, and artists, for his poetry's embodiment of the human experience in what can only be said with song.
Trans. from the French by Jacques le Clerq.
Ill. by Stanley Wyatt.