FEMME ET CHATTE SHE AND HER CAT
Paul Verlaine trans. John R.G. Turner
Elle jouait avec sa chatte,
Et c'était merveille de voir
La main blanche et la blanche patte
S'ébattre dans l'ombre du soir.

Elle cachait - la scélérate! -
Sous ses mitaines de fil noir
Ses meurtriers ongles d'agate,
Coupants et clairs comme un rasoir.

L'autre aussi faisait la sucrée
Et rentrait sa griffe acérée,
Mais le diable n'y perdait rien ...

Et dans le boudoir où, sonore,
Tintait son rire aérien,
Brillaient quatre points de phosphore.
The girl was playing with her cat:
A pure delight it was to view
The pale hand and the pale paw pat
Each other, where the darkness grew.

Her claws in ambush underneath
Their velvet mittens gave no hint
That possibilities of death
Might lurk in digits tipped with flint.

Her rival cutely pulls her furs
About her fist of nails and purrs
At work for idle paws to do.

And in the shadows we admire
The way the catsí eyes, two and two,
Laugh with a deep reflected fire.

This translation was "commended" by the judges of the Times Stephen Spender Prize 2005

Click here 2 for another translation of this poem.

Trans. copyright © John R.G. Turner 2005


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