Saturday, July 19, 2008

Poetry Readings IV: Gerard De Nerval's Divine Enchantress

Recently I have been visiting, after so many years (too many, alas!), my native homeland, la bella Italia, and have drank once more the heady cocktail of life that Toscana offers to all. In a brief stop from my restless motorcycle rides up and down the Apuan Alps, I was glancing into the greenery of the Mediterranean landscape, and all of a sudden the first verse of Nerval's Myrtho resounded like a hypnotic melody from a never forgotten past:

MYRTHO

Je pense à toi, Myrtho, divine enchanteresse,
Au Pausilippe altier, de mille feux brillant,
A ton front inondé des clartés d'Orient,
Aux raisins noirs mêlés avec l'or de ta tresse.

C'est dans ta coupe aussi que j'avais bu l'ivresse,
Et dans l'éclair furtif de ton oeil souriant,
Quand aux pieds d'Iacchus on me voyait priant,
Car la Muse m'a fait l'un des fils de la Grèce.

Je sais pourquoi, -bas, le volcan s'est rouvert...
C'est qu'hier tu l'avais touché d'un pied agile,
Et de cendres soudain l'horizon s'est couvert.

Depuis qu'un duc normand brisa tes dieux d'argile,
Toujours, sous les rameaux du laurier de Virgile,
Le pâle Hortensia s'unit au Myrte vert!

here is my translation:
Of you I think, Myrtho, divine enchantress
Of proud Posillipo, bright with million fires,
Of your face flooded in the clarity of the East,
Of black grapes mixed with the gold of your braids.

From your goblet I too drank euphoria
in the furtive flash of your smiling eye,
When at Iacchus' feet I was seen suppliant
For the muse has made me one of Greece sons.

I know why over there the volcano erupts once more…
Because yesterday you stroked it with your agile foot,
and suddenly the horizon was buried in ashes.

Since a Norman duke broke your clay gods,
Forever, under the branches of Virgil's laurels,
The pale Hortensia & the green Myrtle entwine !

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