Sunday, September 22, 2013

De Nerval - Poetry

Another poem and poet that I've never heard of.  This one is by Gerard De Nerval and is entitled 'El Desdichado'.  I'm guessing that this is translated from Spanish.

I am the dark one, -the widower, -the unconsoled,
The prince of Aquitaine at his stricken tower:
My sole star is dead, - and my constellated lute
Bears the black sun of the Melancolia.

In the night of the tomb, you who consoled me,
Give me back Mount Posilipo and the Italian sea,
The flower which pleased so my desolate heart,
And the trellis where the grape vine unites with the rose.

Am I Amor or Phoebus? . . . Lusignan or Biron?
My forehead is still red from the kiss of the queen;
I have dreamed in the grotto where the mermaid swims . . .

And two times victorious I have crosst the Acheron:
Modulating turn by turn on the lyre of Orpheus
The sighs of the saint and the cries of the fay.

Well first off, I understand almost none of the allusions here which makes me feel like I'm missing out on whatever power the poem has.  Breaking from my tradition, I'm going over to Wikipedia to see if I can find an article to explain the poem.  There is a page for the author here.  Nothing in depth on this poem, though I'm very interested to know that his last published work has the same name as my daughter.
So how about the poetry itself?  The first line is striking.  I can almost hear it narrated while a camera pans slowly over a misty, smoky mountainside.  This is a lover's lament, perhaps a widowers poem.  Yes, there is a tangling of love and death.  The last stanza is somewhat understood if you know that Acheron was one of the rivers of Hades and that Orpheus went down there to find his beloved. 
The subject has been down there twice.  Lost two lovers?  Perhaps.  I don't really get it, but it's memorable. 

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