Last Hope

By Paul Verlaine 1844–1896 Paul Verlaine

Translated By Norman R. Shapiro

Beside a humble stone, a tree
Floats in the cemetery’s air,
Not planted in memoriam there,
But growing wild, uncultured, free.
 
A bird comes perching there to sing,
Winter and summer, proffering
Its faithful song—sad, bittersweet.
That tree, that bird are you and I:
 
You, memory; absence, me, that tide
And time record. Ah, by your side
To live again, undying! Aye,
 
To live again! But ma petite,
Now nothingness, cold, owns my flesh. . .
Will your love keep my memory fresh?

Paul Verlaine, "Last Hope" 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, Sorrow & Grieving, Time & Brevity, Love, Heartache & Loss, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

Poetic Terms Imagery, Sonnet, 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, Sorrow & Grieving, Time & Brevity, Love, Heartache & Loss, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals

POET’S REGION France

Poetic Terms Imagery, Sonnet, Symbolist

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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