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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

laura veirs - the sleeper in the valley

And amazing song by Laura Viers - so gentle, so delicately layered. The words a translated from a well-known French poem by Arthur Rimbaud called Le Dormeur du Val:

C'est un trou de verdure où chante une rivière,
Accrochant follement aux herbes des haillons
D'argent ; où le soleil, de la montagne fière,
Luit : c'est un petit val qui mousse de rayons.

Un soldat jeune, bouche ouverte, tête nue,
Et la nuque baignant dans le frais cresson bleu,
Dort ; il est étendu dans l'herbe, sous la nue,
Pâle dans son lit vert où la lumière pleut.

Les pieds dans les glaïeuls, il dort. Souriant comme
Sourirait un enfant malade, il fait un somme :
Nature, berce-le chaudement : il a froid.

Les parfums ne font pas frissonner sa narine ;
Il dort dans le soleil, la main sur sa poitrine,
Tranquille. Il a deux trous rouges au côté droit.

Veir's English translation is not wholly loyal to the original, but it is just as moving:

In a green hollow where the river sings,
Tiny valley, bluebells ring.

There's a young soldier under the clouds,
His mouth is open, and the light rains down.

And the light rains down,
And the crows come round,
To the two red holes in his right side, oh
In his right side, oh.

Sleeping in the sun, hand on his breast
The nape of his neck bathed in
Blue watercress
He's just a kid and he never knew,
He would would be a sleeper in the valley so soon.

So soon, So soon,
And the crows, they swoon,
At the two red holes in his right side, oh

So soon, so soon,
And the crows, they swoon,
At the two red holes in his right side, oh
In his right side, oh.

As a side note - Rimbaud wrote this poem at the tender age of 17. By the time he turned 18, Rimbaud had moved to Paris where he'd lived a absynthe-fuelled existence with fellow french poet Paul Verlaine; lived in abject squalor in London, relying on the free heating, lighting, pens and ink of the British Museum to write; and survived being shot in the wrist by Verlaine in Brussels.  All of Rimbaud's poetry was written as a teenager and he gave up creative writing completely before he turned 20.  He travelled extensively for the remainder of his life, working as a stone quarry forman in Cyprus, and member of the Dutch Colonial Army in Indonesia and as an exporter of coffee and weapons from Yemen, before dying of cancer at the age of 37.

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