Catherine Chandler's Poetry Blog

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Émile Nelligan - "La passante" translated by Catherine Chandler

Émile Nelligan as an adolescent

The original, "La passante" is available HERE.

My translation was first published in Iambs and Trochees, Journal III, Issue 2, Fall 2004. It also appears in Lucid Rhythms, May 2012, and in my new book, Glad and Sorry Seasons.

Click HERE for more information on Nelligan.

The Passerby

Last night a woman passed me in the park,
a veil of mourning shadowing her face.
Dispirited, she walked the sombre place
alone, her pride dissembled in the dark.

I could not help but guess as to the stark
adversity she dared not have me trace.
She sensed my scrutiny, stepped up her pace,
fled down an alleyway, beyond remark.

My youth is like this woeful passerby:
many shall cross my path before I die;
they shall observe me fade and fall and curl

like dry leaves in the whirlwind of the night;
while I, disconsolate, shall ever swirl
unloved, misunderstood, out of their sight.

Copyright © Catherine Chandler, 2014

Émile Neligan, several years before his death in 1941

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