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  #1  
Unread 06-17-2019, 07:11 PM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Default Sensation (Rimbaud)

Sensation (draft 2a)

Through the blue summer evenings I値l go, pricked by wheat,
Bending the slender stalks along the path I tread
And taking in the cool, crushed freshness at my feet
Like one who dreams, let breezes bathe my naked head.

I will not say a word, will not so much as think,
While out of my soul, a boundless love unfurls,
And I値l go far, so far, at a vagabond痴 lick,
As happy on my way as one is with a girl.


Sensation (draft 2b)

In the blue summer evenings, pricked by wheat,
I値l bend the stalks along the path I tread:
Lost in the cool, crushed freshness at my feet,
I値l let the breezes bathe my naked head.

I will not say a word, I will not think,
While in my soul, a boundless love unfurls,
And I値l go far, so far, at a vagabond痴 lick,
As happy as I would be with a girl.


Sensation (draft 1)

Through the blue summer evenings I値l go, pricked by wheat,
Jostling the scanty grass along the path I tread:
In a dream, I値l feel the coolness at my feet
And let the breezes bathe my naked head.

I will not say a word, will not so much as think:
But out of my soul, a boundless love will rise,
And I値l go far, so far, at a vagabond痴 lick,
With nature like a lover by my side.

-Arthur Rimbaud


Original:

Sensation

Par les soirs bleus d'騁, j'irai dans les sentiers,
Picot par les bl駸, fouler l'herbe menue:
R黐eur, j'en sentirai la fracheur mes pieds.
Je laisserai le vent baigner ma t黎e nue.

Je ne parlerai pas, je ne penserai rien:
Mais l'amour infini me montera dans l'穃e,
Et j'irai loin, bien loin, comme un boh駑ien,
Par la nature, heureux comme avec une femme.


Literal translation :

Sensation

Through the blue evenings of summer, I値l go along the paths,
Prickled by the wheat, treading on the slight grass:
Dreamer, I値l feel the freshness at my feet.
I値l let the wind bathe my bare head.

I will not speak, I will think nothing:
But infinite love will rise in my soul,
And I値l go far, quite far, like a gypsy,
Through nature, as happy as with a woman.

Last edited by A. Sterling; 06-21-2019 at 09:05 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-17-2019, 10:41 PM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Lovely little poem, Anka.

I think the wheat and the slender grass are the same. I can clearly imagine the thin, telltale path of the narrator's passage through a summer wheat field, and I can almost smell the freshly-crushed vegetation at his feet. The thought that he might be transported by that perfume and the immediacy of the wheat-ears' prickling into a fantasy of going on and on in the same way, makes sense to me. I used to walk through my family's fields of oats in much the same way.

In contrast, the idea of his "feeling" the "coolness" at his feet, as in your prose crib and verse translation, doesn't make sense to me. The fact that he can feel the coolness implies that he is walking barefoot through a wheatfield, which I don't think anyone would want to do for very long.

Since fragrance seems to be involved, I think "trampling" would be a better translation than "jostling," because trampling would release more scent from plants than just bumping them aside would. (Yeah, I know you've also got "tread" in there, but still.)

I would also be inclined to translate "menue" as "slender" or "yielding" (or even "tall" or "unmown") rather than "scanty"; otherwise, I have visions of the narrator stomping on occasional clumps of grass in an otherwise bare path, which to me suggests fastidious yard maintenance rather than romance and a carefree "I'll walk where I want to" attitude. The latter scenario would be more in keeping with the "nature" and the free-spirited "boh駑ien" of the end of the poem.

I wish the rhymes in the final quatrain were more perfect.

I like S1L4 and S2L1 very much. Am still deciding what I think of S2LL3-4.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 06-17-2019 at 11:43 PM. Reason: Inarticulateness
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  #3  
Unread 06-18-2019, 02:58 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Anka,

I'm with Julie, pretty much, with a couple of additional thoughts. For S1, I think the field is wetting the N's shoes, hence the freshness/coolness at his feet. I'm not sure a wet wheat field in summer is a good thing, but that seems to be Rimbaud's implication. For S2, how about something like "I will not think a thing [...] And like a vagabond, I'll go on wandering"? It gets you toward a perfect rhyme, and is I think truer to "je ne sentirai rien," which I take to be an echo of Hugo's hugely famous "Demain des l'aube ..." I'd also prefer "in" to "out of my soul," and at the close, I'd prefer a different solution to "par la nature, heureux comme avec une femme," where you've given the N a companion, which the French doesn't quite. The N wanders through nature, happy as if with a woman, which I find quite lovely - the N doesn't have a lady friend/wife, he's just a kid. But he'll be as happy as if he did, though alone. It may be that solving that puzzle will also get you to a perfect rhyme. Maybe "through Nature, happy as if with a bride" or something along those lines.
Finally, here's "Demain des l'aube ...," which may be Rimbaud's intertext:

Demain, d鑚 l誕ube, l檀eure o blanchit la campagne,
Je partirai. Vois-tu, je sais que tu m誕ttends.
J段rai par la for黎, j段rai par la montagne.
Je ne puis demeurer loin de toi plus longtemps.

Je marcherai les yeux fix駸 sur mes pens馥s,
Sans rien voir au dehors, sans entendre aucun bruit,
Seul, inconnu, le dos courb, les mains crois馥s,
Triste, et le jour pour moi sera comme la nuit.

Je ne regarderai ni l弛r du soir qui tombe,
Ni les voiles au loin descendant vers Harfleur,
Et quand j誕rriverai, je mettrai sur ta tombe
Un bouquet de houx vert et de bruy鑽e en fleur.

Cheers,
John
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  #4  
Unread 06-18-2019, 09:27 AM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi Julie and John,

My understanding of the 田oolness at my feet was pretty much as John says maybe dew or droplets of rain clinging to the wheat stalks. Which might be uncomfortable, but Rimbaud has written about wandering through the countryside in other poems, and he definitely seems to find the rougher aspects of roughing it part of the attraction. There痴 a part of 溺a boh鑪e, for instance, where he describes sleeping under the stars and feeling dewdrops on his face, which he compares to 砥n vin de vigeur.

I値l consider what you致e said about the wheat and grass, Julie, and see if I can bring it all into a more coherent picture.

John, I壇 hate to lose S2L1 as I have it and I don稚 like the clang of 奏hing and 奏hink so close together. So much of the poetry in the original is in the soundplay within the lines that accepting imperfect rhymes to keep them melodious doesn稚 seem like too much of a concession.

I知 interested in your thoughts on the last line, though, since I tried it a number of different ways before settling with that one. It痴 true that just being 努ith a woman is ambiguous and it痴 true that Rimbaud was young when he wrote this, only 16. But he was also precocious, and rebellious, and there were at least a couple poems from that same year featuring intimate encounters with women. He probably didn稚 have a lady friend at the time but I think I壇 be overestimating his innocence by having him imagine nature as a bride.

And thanks for bringing 泥emain d鑚 l誕ube to my attention it痴 been far too long since I致e read it.
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  #5  
Unread 06-18-2019, 09:37 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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My pleasure, Anka.

Cheers,
John
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  #6  
Unread 06-18-2019, 01:42 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Thanks for the Hugo poem, John. It would never have occurred to me, but I think you're absolutely right that this poem is influenced by that one.

Another poem sharing many of the same words and concepts as "Sensation" is Rimbaud's own "Le Dormeur du val," in which nature is definitely personified as a woman. Even so, I don't think nature is necessarily being personified as a woman here. The caesura after "heureux" makes me think that the emphasis is on the fact that the narrator is happy, and that the comparison "as with a woman" is just tagged on as an afterthought describing the happiness itself, not nature. But perhaps this distinction is not as significant as I think it is.

It's unfortunate that the ambiguity as to whether "sentirai" means "I will smell" or "I will feel" can't stay in English. I suppose you could go with "I will sense," but that seems more bloodless than either. (There is definitely fragrance in Rimbaud's "Le Dormeur du val," though, among other sensory input--just sayin'!)

As regards your meter, Anka, I think it would be more effective to pick either iambic hexameter or iambic pentameter. The current mix doesn't let me lean into the music for very long without being thrown off balance.

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 06-19-2019 at 12:39 PM. Reason: that that --> that, Anya --> Anka
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  #7  
Unread 06-19-2019, 11:04 AM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Julie,

I知 happy to be alerted to the possibility that it痴 the 壮mell sentir rather than/as well as the 素eel I had assumed it had to be 素eel since I知 not familiar with the right kinds of vegetation, I guess.

I don稚 actually think that Rimbaud is personifying nature as a woman, either bringing it one step closer to that was more a consequence of having to fit a lot into one line which I might be just able to do by making it hexameter instead.

And regarding the meter I値l see what I can do about that with the first stanza, since it痴 probably going to require some intensive rearranging anyway. Personally, I don稚 find mixed line lengths throws me off-balance. But then I like asymmetrical rhythms in music, too. And, of course, rendering it all in the meter of the original is the ideal. But I can稚 get to that for a couple days anyway, and perhaps someone else will have something to add in the meantime.
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  #8  
Unread 06-19-2019, 12:55 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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For what it's worth, I don't know what "lick" means as you are using it here. I'm sure there is a meaning, unknown to me, but I can't believe I'm alone in being thrown by the word.
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  #9  
Unread 06-21-2019, 12:00 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Anka, I think it would help the music of this poem a lot if you found a consistent meter and stuck to it. Rimbaud seems to be using hexameters throughout. If I were doing it, I would try to boil it down to pentameter, both because English is a more economical language in terms of how many syllables it requires to say the same things as French and because hexameters are rare in English because many readers feel that they drag. Such choices are up to you. But I am picking up a rather random mix of hexameter and pentameter in your lines, and that does no reader any favors. It is particularly important that readers can figure out the meter from your first line, but that is the hardest one to scan.

I could figure out what "lick" meant in the context, but it is rare usage here.

Susan
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  #10  
Unread 06-21-2019, 12:23 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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The expression I know is a fair lick.

Cherie,
John
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