Monday, December 22, 2008

La Blanche Neige

We’re snowbound by yesterday’s solstice storm—& snow predicted thru the week. My curmudgeonly side says I got by quite well from 1984-1997 in Virginia & San Francisco with bare ground & warm weather on Christmas day—with all due respect to Bing Crosby & Irving Berlin. Another side sees the beauty in the wintery Yuletide landscape (sometimes grudgingly). Eberle loves the enveloping quiet of a snowstorm, which was certainly the case yesterday, as the air was white with snow….

To put a positive spin on things, I’m posting a translation I made back in the 90s of Appolinaire’s “La Blanche Neige,” one of the all-time lovely lyrics about snow from his 1913 Alcools. The original by Appolinaire follows. If you know French, you can read Alcools (since it’s in the public domain) at the splendid Project Gutenberg site, here. I also have around a dozen Appolinaire translations on my own translations page.

For those of you in northern climes, hope this helps make the wintery weather a bit more of a delight, & less dreary.

White Snow

Angels the angels in the skies
One’s dressed up like an officer
One’s dressed up like a chef
And the others are singing

Comely officer color of the skies
Long long after Christmas gentle spring
Will decorate you with a shining sun
              With a shining sun

The chef plucks the geese
             Ah! let the snow fall
              And fall if only I held
My beloved in my arms

Translation © John Hayes 1990-2008

La Blanche Neige

Les anges les anges dans le ciel
L’un est vêtu en officier
L’un est vêtu en cuisinier
Et les autres chantent

Bel officier couleur du ciel
Le doux printemps longtemps après Noël
Te médaillera d’un beau soleil
             D’un beau soleil

Le cuisinier plume les oies
             Ah! tombe neige
             Tombe et que n’ai-je
Ma bien-aimée entre mes bras

Guillaume Apollinaire, 1913

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this resonates ... joy and longing all built up into one short work. I love the refraining too.


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