Chanson de Printemps

To celebrate the 150th anniversary of Proust’s birth on 10 July 1871, here is a short poem by him which was found with a commonplace book into which the dedicatee, whom Proust met during his military service, transcribed favourite passages from literature. The translation is by Westbrook.

Happy birthday to the shade of the immortal Marcel.

See the illustrated blog post here.

To listen, press play; our thanks to the reader, Béatrice Damamme-Gilbert:

To scroll both versions of the poem at the same time - tap inside one box to select it and then scroll.

Les souffles flottant dans les bois en fleurs
Abordent au feuillage étincelant ;
Luisent les glaïeuls aux ruisseaux en pleurs ;
Au ciel bleu foncé nage un nuage blanc.

L’air tiède est doux aux poitrines blanches
Mises à nu ; la mousse sous les cous
S’enfonce ; voici près des rayons roux
La douceur des mains caressant les hanches.

Il pleut du soleil, il chante de l’eau,
Des baisers pâmés aspirent la peau
Sous les branches.

(À Monsieur le Sergent Henry,
Hommage d’un subordonné
Marcel Proust.)

Breaths wafting in the woods in flower
Touch the shimmering leaves;
Sword-lilies shine reflected in the weeping streams;
In the deep blue sky a white cloud swims.

Warm air is sweet on pale chests
Stripped bare; under necks the moss
Yields; here, close by the auburn rays,
Sweetness of hands caressing haunches.

Sun is raining down, water is singing,
Fainting kiss flairs skin
Beneath the branches.

(To Monsieur Sergeant Henry,
homage from a subordinate
Marcel Proust.)