El Desdichado

Gerard De Nerval


I, the obscure, the widowed, unconsoled,

The prince of Aquitaine at the slighted tower:

A black sun is the star-sign of my lyre,

For melancholy: my one star lies cold.


Come, in death’s dark, to one you have consoled:

Grant me Posillipo’s Italian shore;

Give to my grieving heart its precious flower,

Its arbours with wild vines and roses scrolled.


Am I Love, or Phoebus? Lusignan, or Biron? 

The kiss, the queen’s kiss, lingers, blushing on

My brow; I dreamed in caves, where swam the siren…


Victorious twice I traversed Acheron,

Sounding in turn, on Orpheus’ lute, the sighs

Of the fair saint, and the enchantress’ cries.




Translated from French by © Timothy Ades