Three Translations of Rimbaud

Antique

Arthur Rimbaud

Gracieux fils de Pan! Autour de ton front couronné de fleurettes et de baies tex yeux, des boules précieuses, remuent. Tachées de lies brunes, tes joues se creusent. Tes crocs luisent. Ta poitrine ressemble à une cithare, des tintements circulent dans tes bras blonds. Ton cœur bat dans ce ventre où dort le double sexe. Promène-toi, la nuit, en mouvant doucement cette cuisse, cette seconde cuisse et cette jambe de gauche.


Antique

trans. John Ashbery

Graceful son of Pan! Around your forehead crowned with small flowers and berries, your eyes precious spheres, are moving. Spotted with brownish wine lees, your cheeks grow hollow. Your fangs gleam. Your chest is like a lyre, jingling sounds circulate between your blond arms. Your heart beats in that belly where the double sex sleeps. Walk at night, gently moving that thigh, that second thigh and that left leg.


Ancient

trans. Wallace Fowlie

Graceful son of Pan! Under your brow crowned with flowers and berries, your eyes, precious balls, move. Spotted with dark streaks, your cheeks look hollow. Your fangs glisten. Your chest is like a lyre and tinklings move up and down your white arms. Your heart beats in that abdomen where your double sex sleeps. Walk at night and move gently this thigh, then this other thigh and this left leg.


Against

trans. Joseph M. Gerace

Beats in the belly! Whereas your bat dans tes pan! Autour heart beats in the abdomen where your fangs glisten. Your eyes, remuent. Tachées de gauche. Ancient trains walk at night, gently moving sound. Your eyes, your forehead, crowned with small flowers and berries, your forehead — crocs-luisent. Tachées de les tes yeux, des boules précieux fils de pan! Under your fangs gleam brilliant blond arms. Your double, à une cithare, des tes yeux, des boules précieux, fils de pan! Autour forehead crocs luisent. Tachées de pan! Autour hearts beat in your thigh.

‘Royalty’ by Arthur Rimbaud, trans. John Ashbery

First published in 1886, Arthur Rimbaud's Illuminations, the work of a poet who had abandoned poetry before the age of twenty-one, changed the language of poetry. Hallucinatory and feverishly hermetic, it is an acknowledged masterpiece of world literature, still unrivaled for its haunting blend of sensuous detail and otherworldly astonishment. In Ashbery's translation of this notoriously elusive text, the acclaimed poet and translator lends his inimitable voice to a venerated classic.
He died of cancer in a Marseilles hospital in 1891, still young — having in effect compressed what for others would have been a long lifetime of artistic revolution and exotic adventure into just 37 years.
Arthur Rimbaud was born in 1854 in Charleville, in the northeast of France close to the Belgian border, to a sour-tempered, repressively pious mother and a mostly absent soldier father who disappeared for good when Rimbaud was 6.

Royauté

Un beau matin, chez un peuple fort doux, un homme et une femme superbes criaient sur la place publique. «Mes amis, je veux qu’elle soit reine!» «Je veux être reine!» Elle riait et tremblait. Il parlait aux amis de révélation, d’épreuve terminée. Ils se pâmaient lun contre l’autre.

En effet ils furent rois toute toute une matinée où les tentures carminées se relevèrent sur les maisons, et toute l´après-midi, où ils sávancérent du côté des jardins de palmes.

Royalty

One fine morning, in the country of a very gentle people, a magnificent man and woman were shouting in the public square. “My friends, I want her to be queen!” “I want to be queen!” She was laughing and trembling. He spoke to their friends of revelation, of trials completed. They swooned against each other.

In fact they were regents for a whole morning as crimson hangings were raised against the houses, and for the whole afternoon, as they moved toward the groves of palm trees.

Source: Rimbaud, Arthur, and John Ashbery. Illuminations. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012, pp. 52-53.