On the calm black wave where the stars are sleeping
the white Ophelia floats like a great lily.
Floats very slowly, lying in her long veils…
—Far off in the woods there are hunters’ calls.
It’s already more than a thousand years that sad Ophelia
passes, a white phantom, on the long black river;
More than a thousand years that her gentle craziness
murmurs her romantic story to the evening breeze.
The wind kisses her breasts and arranges her great veils,
cradled softly by the waves, in a halo around her;
the shivering willows weep on her shoulder,
the reeds bend above her wide dreaming forehead.
The rumpled lotuses sigh around her;
she awakes sometimes, in a sleeping alder,
some nest from which a little shiver of wing escapes:
—a mysterious chant falls from the golden stars.
O pale Ophelia! beautiful as snow!
Yes you died, child, carried away by a river!
—It’s that the winds coming down from the mountains of Norway
talked to you quietly of bitter freedom;
it’s that a gust, twisting your long hair,
carried strange sounds to your dreaming mind;
your heart heard the singing of nature
in the wails of the tree and the sighs of the nights;
It’s that the voice of the crazy seas, immense groan,
broke your child’s breast, too human and too sweet;
it’s that one morning in April, a handsome pale cavalier,
a poor fool, sat mute at your knees!
Heaven! Love! Freedom! What a dream, O poor foolish girl!
You melted into him like a snow in the fire:
Your great visions strangled your words
—and terrible infinity appalled your blue eye!
—And the poet says that by starlight
you come looking at night for the flowers you gather,
and that he saw on the water, lying in her long veils,
the white Ophelia floating like a great lily.
#Ophelia #Arthur Rimbaud #poetry in translation