Tuesday, April 26, 2011

National Poetry Month/Spring's Smile

The National Poetry Month posts have led me to the bookshelves and some books I haven't looked at in a long time. This is an old book of poems titled Émaux and Camées by French poet Théophile Gautier illustrated by Henri Caruchet. It was published in 1903 by Librarie Charpentier et Fasquelle. I love the page design and illustrations and the poem, Premier Sourire du Printemps (Spring's First Smile) is so perfect for the season. My French is very rusty so this English translation from readabookonline.net is a big help.

While up and down the earth men pant and plod,
March, laughing at the showers and days unsteady,
And whispering secret orders to the sod,
For Spring makes ready.

And slyly when the world is sleeping yet,
He smooths out collars for the Easter daisies,
And fashions golden buttercups to set
In woodland mazes.

Coif-maker fine, he worketh well his plan.
Orchard and vineyard for his touch are prouder.
From a white swan he hath a down to fan
The trees with powder.

While Nature still upon her couch doth lean,
Stealthily hies he to the garden closes,
And laces in their bodices of green
Pale buds of roses.

Composing his solfeggios in the shade,
He whistles them to blackbirds as he treadeth,
And violets in the wood, and in the glade
Snowdrops, he spreadeth.

Where for the restless stag the fountain wells,
His hidden hand glides soft amid the cresses,
And scatters lily-of-the-valley bells,
In silver dresses.

He sinks the sweet, vermilion strawberries
Deep in the grasses for thy roving fingers,
And garlands leaflets for thy forehead's ease,
When sunshine lingers.

When, labour done, he must away, turns he
On April's threshold from his fair creating,
And calleth unto Spring: "Come, Spring--for see,
The woods are waiting!"

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