Moonlight

By Paul Verlaine 1844–1896 Paul Verlaine

Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.
 
Singing in minor mode of life’s largesse
And all-victorious love, they yet seem quite
Reluctant to believe their happiness,
And their song mingles with the pale moonlight,
 
The calm, pale moonlight, whose sad beauty, beaming,
Sets the birds softly dreaming in the trees,
And makes the marbled fountains, gushing, streaming—
Slender jet-fountains—sob their ecstasies.

Paul Verlaine, "Moonlight " from One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine: A Bilingual Edition, translated by Norman R. Shapiro. Copyright © 1999 by Norman R. Shapiro.  Reprinted by permission of The University of Chicago Press.

Source: One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine: A Bilingual Edition (The University of Chicago Press, 1999)

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Poet Paul Verlaine 1844–1896

POET’S REGION France

Subjects Living, The Mind, Love, Desire, Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor, Symbolist

Biography

Although he was known as “the Master” to his friends and admirers by the time of his death in 1896, French poet Paul Verlaine endured a rocky relationship with the public during his life. Verlaine's literary reputation declined in his final years—in part because of his scandalous behavior—even as he was identified as a major influence on the burgeoning symbolist movement. Verlaine was also one of the models for the Decadent . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, The Mind, Love, Desire, Arts & Sciences, Painting & Sculpture

POET’S REGION France

Poetic Terms Imagery, Metaphor, Symbolist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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