In Muted Tone

By Paul Verlaine 1844–1896 Paul Verlaine

Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

Gently, let us steep our love
In the silence deep, as thus,
Branches arching high above
Twine their shadows over us.
 
Let us blend our souls as one,
Hearts’ and senses’ ecstasies,
Evergreen, in unison
With the pines’ vague lethargies.
 
Dim your eyes and, heart at rest,
Freed from all futile endeavor,
Arms crossed on your slumbering breast,
Banish vain desire forever.
 
Let us yield then, you and I,
To the waftings, calm and sweet,
As their breeze-blown lullaby
Sways the gold grass at your feet.
 
And, when night begins to fall
From the black oaks, darkening,
In the nightingale’s soft call
Our despair will, solemn, sing.

Paul Verlaine, "In Muted Tone" 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)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Paul Verlaine 1844–1896

POET’S REGION France

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Classic Love, Romantic Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Classic Love, Romantic Love, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION France

Poetic Terms Imagery, Symbolist

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.