The sound of the horn
Has startled
Those in the hovels who were not asleep.
A handsome stranger
Came, riding his horse,
And saw
The mysterious beauty,
He lifted her into the saddle
And they galloped away.
They fled into the gloomy, remote parts,
Thither, past the lake, over which there trembled
The stars,
The night,
The weeping willows.
They were fleeing
Through dells, fields, and coppices.
But could you have known about your future legend,
You, the enigmatic stealer of the princess?
And in me there cries
All the sadness and weariness
Of the shades of the past, strange shades.
And the knight's banner,
The color of hope,
Waves far away, o my heart, in your anxiety.
And all the while hoping for something,
Slowly life is dwindling away,
The heartbroken princess is dying
Amid jesters and mournful gnomes
In a castle that belongs to the fairies.
Fairies, gentle fairies. Fearsome, fearsome fairies.
O iris, boughs of lilac, and Jericho roses!
In the castle that belongs to the fairies
A juggler is playing the lute
Luring in passers-by
By the airs of his lute,
Whose strange strings,
With their sounds,
Pledge troth to the souls of violins,
To the transparent soul of flowing tears.

He is not at all like me.
Never in his room that's asleep,
Never did the unknown lean over his pillow,
Never touched its lips
To his feverish forehead.

But you, the sorrowful Passer-by,
Passer-by, as poor as myself,
Come with me down the road
In that hour when we set out
In the dour and anxious morning
To meet our monotonous life.
— Because we're afraid to die.
You and I, we would like to die.
Because our century is all in black,
It wears a tall top-hat,
And still we continue to run,
And then, when the clock strikes
The hour of inaction and of estrangement
From daily deeds,
Then we are visited by a sundering
And do not yearn for a thing.

Listen, Passer-by!
Listen! And then, without knowing each other,
You and I shall part.
Get on your way. The wind on the road blows dust in the distance.

Guillaume Apollinaire
from the Early Poems 1896-1910
[Russian translation here]

[back to poems]

translated by Shimon Edelman <se37@cornell.edu>
Last modified on Sun Feb 28 14:11:46 2016