The Nightingale–Paul Verlaine
Lyric poetry lives in the moment. A poet can be in the middle of something utterly routine–paying bills, frying eggs–when inspiration strikes, making him or her put everything aside, turn the stove off, and write, knowing that unless he or she follows their impulse, the poem’s thread will be lost.
Conversely, when inspiration disappears, there is no way (at least consciously) to make it come back. Following routine is, as far as RT can determine, the best way to coax the muse back.
The result? Sometimes poets have bits and pieces of a poem lying around for months or even years before the much anticipated urge descends and sends them running back to complete the piece.
RT offers one of his incomplete translations below as evidence of this process. Though the version isn’t finished, this work has already confirmed for RT the power and technical brilliance of Paul Verlaine‘s voice.
Like a murderous gang of crows
memories–each and all–break on me,
shatter the pale coward’s leaf
of a heart that admires its alderwood
crooked in the carnival mirrors of regret–
rising and ebbing nearby.
Dropping from the sky, shrieking
until a salt-breeze lifts them calm…
(and, sooner rather than later, RT will post the complete poem)
copyright © 2013, Eric Quinn
Painting: Portrait of Paul Verlaine as a Troubadour, Frederic Bazille (1868); Dallas Museum of Art. WikiCmns; Public Domain.