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Autumn Song
Paul Verlaine


Translated from French by Arthur Symons

When a sighing begins
In the violins
Of the autumn-song,
My heart is drowned
In the slow sound
Languorous and long
Pale as with pain,
Breath fails me when
The hours toll deep.
My thoughts recover
The days that are over,
And I weep.
And I go
Where the winds know,
Broken and brief,
To and fro,
As the winds blow
A dead leaf.

This poem is in the public domain.


Paul Verlaine (1844 - 1896) was a French poet known more for his technical expertise than his emotional impact. There was plenty of emotion in his personal life, however: he spent two years in prison for shooting a fellow poet during an argument that got out of hand, and he vacillated between drunken decadence and remorseful repentance for most of his life. Amid all that, he managed to write some quite fine poetry and was oddly revered by the public. Many of Verlaine's poems have been set to music, including six from his "Fêtes Galante" collection (which, roughly translated, means "party time poems") claimed by Claude Debussy.

Arthur Symons (1865 – 1945) was a British critic, magazine editor, playwright, and poet.



Post New Comment:
How very interesting. Thank you!
Posted 06/06/2021 06:21 PM
Posted 06/06/2021 01:43 PM
The first three lines win my heart!
Posted 06/06/2021 12:58 PM
Brings to mind "Four Strong Winds," the song that put Ian Tyson on the map (covered by more than sixty singers). Great find.
Posted 06/06/2021 09:06 AM
Gilbert Allen:
A masterful translation of a fine poem.
Posted 06/06/2021 08:27 AM
Janet Leahy:
This is a beautiful translation from the French. Thanks Jayne for giving us the background to this poem and poet. The opening line sets the tone through music. A memorable piece.
Posted 06/06/2021 08:23 AM
Lovely poem. For all of his faults, he had a love for the written word.
Posted 06/06/2021 08:21 AM
What a lovely poem and a fascinating history lesson!
Posted 06/06/2021 07:38 AM
Larry Schug:
With the first two lines this poem promises excellence and it delivers. One of your best finds, Jayne.
Posted 06/06/2021 07:08 AM

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