I’m sorrowful, widowed, disconsolate,
the Prince of Aquitaine whose tower’s in ruins;
my lone star’s dead – my constellated lute
carries a black and melancholy sun.
In the night of the grave, you consoled me;
gave me Naples and the Italian sea;
the flower that so pleased my distressed heart;
the arbour where the vine and rose entwine.
Am I Cupid or Phoebus?… Lusignan or Byron?
My forehead’s still burning from the queen’s kiss;
I’ve dreamed in the caves where the sirens swim…
Twice victorious, I’ve crossed Acheron;
modulating – on Orpheus’s lyre –
the sigh of the saint and the fairy’s cry.
By Gérard de Nerval
Translation © R J Dent (2009)