Рене Вивьен. Избранное (на английском языке)


I have ruined my heart, devastated my soul
And a beggar of love is what I am today:
The memories, like filthy vermin, take their toll,
Gnaw at me in the implacable face of day.
I have ruined my heart, devastated my soul
And of fate, I implore shamefully, without cease,
A reflection of your eyes: a divine caprice;
O fugitive form, perfumed pallor that hovers
So prodigal, so abundant among lovers!

I have looked endlessly for your gaze in strange eyes,
I have searched for your kiss on ephemeral lips;
Like a vine in the orchard, flushed by the sun’s rise,
Floating on Bacchic laughter which rises and dips,
I have looked endlessly for your gaze in strange eyes
Without freeing my heart from your harsh caresses.
And thus, like the sighing of plaintive mistresses
Who weep at night for a summer without return,
In laments I hear echos of love-words which yearn.

O form so fugitive, O pallor so perfumed,
Inconstant sweetness which destiny sought to cease,
Abundant and prodigal lover who once bloomed,
I have lost your sweet smile to the divine caprice;
O form so fugitive, O pallor so perfumed,
You have turned me to a beggar of love today
Exposed in the implacable face of the day
The stark grief of wretched misery takes its toll…
I have ruined my heart, devastated my soul.


The trees have kept some lingering sun in their branches,
Veiled like a woman, evoking another time,
The twilight passes, weeping. My fingers climb,
Trembling, provocative, the line of your haunches.

My ingenious fingers wait when they have found
The petal flesh beneath the robe they part.
How curious, complex, the touch, this subtle art–
As the dream of fragrance, the miracle of sound.

I follow slowly the graceful contours of your hips,
The curves of your shoulders, your neck, your upappeased breasts.
In your white voluptuousness my desire rests,
Swooning, refusing itself the kisses of your lips.


Day no longer pierces, with proud arrow and lance,
The woods, amazing in their beauty nocturnal.
This is the turbid hour when Bacchantes dance,
Amidst oppressive rhythms, languid and vernal.

Their hair tangles, dripping with the blood of the vines;
Their lively feet, like the wings of the wind, are light,
And their rosy flesh, the suppleness of their lines,
Imbues the forest with ever-shifting delight.

The youngest sings a song which calls to mind a wail:
Her amorous breast, with deep sobbing, is heavy.
She is not at all like the others – she is pale.
Her face has the stormy bitterness of the sea.

The wine, where the sun of the season still persists,
No longer brings generous oblivion now;
She is half-drunk, but her sorrow never desists
And a wreath of dark leaves surrounds her pale brow.

To all in her, false gaiety brings weariness.
And the presentiment of cold and hard daybreak
Comes to corrupt the honied flame of the caress.
Among the festive roses she dreams, though awake.

What she remembers are the kisses they forget…
She cannot learn to desire without feeling grief,
She who gazes still, with melancholy beset,
At flowers dying after night orgies, so brief.


Your laughter is light, your caress is deep,
Your cold kisses love the harm they do;
Your eyes are blue like lotus waves
And the water lilies are less pure than your face.

You flee, you move fluidly;
Your hair falls in gentle reeds;
Your voice is a treacherous tide;
Your arms are supple reeds.

Along high river reeds, their embrace
Enlaces, chokes, strangles savagely;
Deep in the waves, an agony
Extinguishes in a nightly swoon.


In pleated robes, long and flowing
Like all chimeras, gleaming bright
The bloom of spring to me you bring
Within your hands, so fair and light.

I dread that thrill, pearly and fresh;
Your fragile breast, I do not touch;
Trembling before your sacred flesh,
I dread your charming mouth as much!

To God, I feel my soul allies
When, underneath my proud embrace
The sweet blue bruising of your eyes
Extinguishes, without a trace.

But then, so white in my arms’ bonds,
At my love-cry, faint and devout,
You smile and you give no response,
Your closed eyes freezing my soul out…

Still I dread, – with spectral remorse
Which ecstasy cannot suppress, –
That you may take an evil course
With each spontaneous caress.


The light, in throes of agony, dies at your knee,
Come, oh you whose guarded face, so lovely to see,
Carries dejection from years heavy and jaded:
Come, with your deadly welts turning pale, in distress,
With no other scent in the long folds of your dress
Than the breath of flowers which have long since faded.

Come, with your unrouged lips that ignite my desires,
Without rings, – neither rubies, opals, nor sapphires
Dishonoring your fingers, milky as the moon, –
And from your eyes put mirrored reflections to flight…
For it is here: the simple, chaste hour of the night
When hues can oppress, and luxury importune.

Yield up all your chagrin to the eternal smile,
Exhale in a profound cry your suffering vile,
All those events of the past, so cruel and senseless,
Leave them to death, to the distance and to silence…
In the dream which to strife gives such sweet condolence;
To the ancient fever of speech: forgetfulness.

I will kiss your hands and your divine naked feet;
Our hearts will cry out for the neglect that they meet,
Will decry the vile words and base gestures anew…
These flights will linger in peaceful security….
You will join your hands in their mystic purity,
And, in the soul-filled shadows, I will adore you.


Your strange hair, cold light,
Has pale glows and blond dullness;
Your gaze has the blue of ether and waves;
Your gown has the chill of the breeze and the woods.

I burn the whiteness of your fingers with kisses.
The night air spreads the dust from many worlds.
Still I don’t know anymore, in the heart of those deep nights,
How to see you with the passion of yesterday.

The moon grazed you with a slanted glow …
It was terrible, like prophetic lightning
Revealing the hideous below your beauty.

I saw-as one sees a flower fade-
On your mouth, like summer auroras,
The withered smile of an old whore.


I reposed in the massive flank of the mountain…
Its mildness intoxicated me. Near my sleep
Rumbled, towards the sun, the flowers’ ardent sweep.
Nothing then disturbed the great peace of the mountain.

I slumbered. I resembled a star in the night,
And April, which undulates as love it abides
Trembled divinely through the golden countrysides
Without breaking my vigil, obscure in the night.

Pure white in the depths of the extinguished shadow,
I knew nothing of chill mist or the noisy breeze
In the branches and wheat as the wind through them flees
Hissing…I slept deep in the extinguished shadow.

When you wrenched me out from the tranquil eternal,
Oh my master! oh tyrant whose imprint I bear!
In your grasp, so replete with alarm and despair,
I lived, and lost my repose in the eternal…

I received the Statues’s tired face, and the crowd
With their insulting, cruel, and imbecile gawk;
My cold being, unable to move or to talk,
Was then prey to the transient stare of the crowd.

And now I exist as the proud victim of time,
For I suffer beyond the brief hours passing.
My anguish lifts proudly within the amassing
Murmurings which perish in the vastness of time.

I despise you, creator, whose too-austere thought
Has, in sudden fevers, burst my body apart,
And of whom sorrowful dreams I keep in my heart…
I know the profound sadness with which the earth is fraught,

I who now exist as the proud victim of time.


The flight of the fluttering bat
Is tortuous, anguished, bizarre.
Then, beating her bruised wings thereat,
She turns, and looks back from afar.

Have you never felt, just one time,
How, drunken with painful defeat,
My soul, in a madflight sublime,
Soared to your lips, distant but sweet?


My brunette with the golden eyes, your ivory body, your amber
Has left bright reflections in the room
Above the garden.

The clear midnight sky, under my closed lids,
Still shines….I am drunk from so many roses
Redder than wine.

Leaving their garden, the roses have followed me….
I drink their brief breath, I breathe their life.
All of them are here.

It’s a miracle….The stars have risen,
Hastily, across the wide windows
Where the melted gold pours.

Now, among the roses and the stars,
You, here in my room, loosening your robe,
And your nakedness glistens

Your unspeakable gaze rests on my eyes….
Without stars and without flowers, I dream the impossible
In the cold night.


Prolong the night, Goddess who sets us aflame!
Hold back from us the golden-sandalled dawn!
Already on the sea the first faint gleam
Of day is coming on.

Sleeping under your veils, protect us yet,
Having forgotten the cruelty day may give!
The wine of darkness, wine of the stars let
Overwhelm us with love!

Since no one knows what dawn will come,
Bearing the dismal future with its sorrows
In its hands, we tremble at full day, our dream
Fears all tomorrows.

Oh! keeping our hands on our still-closed eyes,
Let us vainly recall the joys that take flight!
Goddess who delights in the ruin of the rose,
Prolong the night!