Tag Archives: Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire

Translator’s Note:

I first discovered “Tristesse d’une Étoile” through another translation, and was captivated by it. Later, armed with a semester-long course in French grammar, I decided to find the original and produce my own rendering. I felt that, while rhyme would have to be conceded, a version that preserved Apollinaire’s voice needed to be based on a metrical scheme. The poem is written in twelve-syllable alexandrines, a form that seldom appears in Anglophone literature; I chose iambic pentameter as the closest equivalent.

 

Guillaume Apollinaire (author) (1880-1918) was born in Rome to parents of Polish descent. In his late teens, he moved to Paris, where he became involved in avant-garde artistic circles. He fought in World War I, suffering a head injury from which he never fully recovered, and later died in the flu pandemic of 1918.

 

Rebekah Curry (translator) lives in Austin, where she is a graduate student at the University of Texas. Her chapbook of original poetry, Unreal Republics, is available from Finishing Line Press, and her work has also appeared in journals including Antiphon and Mezzo Cammin. Find her on Twitter @rebekah_curry.


Sadness of a Star

Minerva’s beauty sprang out of my head
A bloody star forever is my crown
Deep down my reason and above it sky
There goddess you were taking up your arms

So this was never worst among my pains
This all but deadly wound was graced with stars
Yet I am fevered with a secret grief
Much greater than what any heart could hide

And I bear with me this fierce agony
Just as the glowworm holds itself aflame
As soldiers’ hearts that beat on fire for France
As fragrant pollen at the lily’s core

 

Tristesse d’une Étoile

Une belle Minerve est l’enfant de ma tête
Une étoile de sang me couronne à jamais
La raison est au fond et le ciel est au faite
Du chef où dès longtemps Déesse tu t’armais

C’est pourquoi de mes maux ce n’était pas le pire
Ce trou presque mortel et qui s’est étoilé
Mais le secret malheur qui nourrit mon délire
Est bien plus grand au’aucune âme ait jamais celé

Et je porte avec moi cette ardente souffrance
Comme le ver luisant tient son corps enflammé
Comme au coeur du soldat il palpite la France
Et comme au coeur du lys le pollen parfumé