Selected Poems of Marceline Desbordes-Valmore
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786-1859) was a French poet who pre-dates the Symbolist Movement, and is largely unknown today outside her native country. This book brings together rare English verse translations by Anna M. Evans of 18 of her poems, along with a translation of an essay on her work by Paul Verlaine.
"In a great service to Anglophone understanding of post-revolutionary French poetry, Anna Evans has delivered an important volume of translations from Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, well known in the French-Speaking world. I'm familiar with a few of Desbordes-Valmore's more anthologized poems, such as 'La sincère' and 'L'adieu du soir' from my Nigerian secondary school French curriculum, but Anna goes beyond these to tackle poems such as 'Une lettre de femme' and 'Le berceau d'Hélène' which deserve to be more widely appreciated. The facing page format Evans uses makes plain the technical accomplishment of her translations, and her bold choices, such as using English anapests to represent the hendecasyllabics of 'L'inquiétude.' Evans has managed very well to communicate the peculiar and powerful sound and atmosphere of Desbordes-Valmore's poetry." — Uche Ogbuji, Editor, Kin
A Woman's Letter
I know that women aren't required to write;
Yet write I do.
So my heart's words can reach your far-off sight
as I want them to.
I'll pen nothing that wouldn't sound much better
coming from you.
But from someone you love even a clichéd letter
can seem new.
May it bring luck! Myself I'll stay aware
until, over yonder
I feel that I must go to see and hear
your footsteps wander.
Don't turn back if a swallow passes you
as you cross the land—
I think it's faithful me flying by you to
touch your hand.
When you go, it all goes. Everything sails,
light and flowers.
Summer follows you, leaves me the gales
heavy with tears.
Yet, if we see nothing but hope and fears,
ceasing to see
is what I'd give to you. I'll keep my tears
and hope, for me.
No, I don't want to see you the least depressed,
my better half.
Close as I am to you, to wish you distressed
is to hate myself.
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