Innocents We

By Paul Verlaine 1844–1896 Paul Verlaine

Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

Their long skirts and high heels battled away:
Depending on the ground’s and breezes’ whim,
At times some stocking shone, low on the limb—
Too soon concealed!—tickling our naïveté.
 
At times, as well, an envious bug would bite
Our lovelies’ necks beneath the boughs, and we
Would glimpse a flash—white flash, ah! ecstasy!—
And glut our mad young eyes on sheer delight.
 
Evening would fall, the autumn day would draw
To its uncertain close: our belles would cling
Dreamingly to us, cooing, whispering
Lies that still set our souls trembling with awe.

Paul Verlaine, "Innocents We" 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, Coming of Age, Love, Desire, First Love, Relationships, Men & Women

Poetic Terms Imagery, 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, Coming of Age, Love, Desire, First Love, Relationships, Men & Women

POET’S REGION France

Poetic Terms Imagery, Symbolist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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