Ballade: In favour of those called Decadents and Symbolists, Translation of Paul Verlaine’s Ballade: En favour des dénommés Décadents et Symbolistes


  Ballade : In favour of those called Decadents and Symbolists, Translation of Paul Verlaine’s Ballade en faveur des dénommés Décadents et Symbolistes
 
                                    for Léon Vanier*
 
(The texts I use for my translations are from : Yves-Alain Favre, Ed. Paul Verlaine : Œuvres Poétiques Complètes. Paris : Robert Laffont, 1992, XCIX-939p.)
 
Some few in all this Paris :
We live off pride, yet flat broke we’re
Even if with the bottle a bit too free
We drink above all fresh water
Being very sparing when taken with hunger.
With other fine fare and wines of high-estate
Likewise with beauty : sour-tempered never.
We are the writers of good taste.
 
Phoebé when all the cats gray be
Highly sharpened to a point much harsher
Our bodies nourrished by glory
Hell licks its lips and in ambush does cower
And with his dart Phoebus pierces us ever
The night cradling us through dreamy waste
Strewn with seeds of peach beds over.
We are the writers of good taste.
 
A good many of the best minds rally
Holding high Man’s standard : toffee-nosed scoffer
And Lemerre* retains with success poetry’s destiny.
More than one poet then helter-skelter
Sought to join the rest through the narrow fissure ;
But Vanier at the very end made haste
The only lucky one to assume the rôle of Fisher*.
We are the writers of good taste.
 
ENVOI
 
Even if our stock exchange tends to dither
Princes hold sway : gentle folk and the divining caste.
Whatever one might say or pours forth the preacher,
We are the writers of good taste.
 
*One of Verlaine’s publishers who first published his near-collected works at 19, quai Saint-Michel, Paris-V.
 
* Alphonse Lemerre (1838-1912), one of Verlaine’s publishers at 47, Passage Choiseul, Paris, where from 1866 onwards the Parnassians met regularly.
 
*Vanier first specialised in articles for fishing as a sport.
 
© T. Wignesan – Paris, 2013

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