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Two short poems by Paul Valéry
translated by Ian Brinton and Michael Grant


Interior

A slave with narrow eyes and laden with soft fetters
Changes the water for my flowers, plunges into nearby mirrors,
And lavishes her unstained fingers on the bed of mysteries;
She sets a woman in the middle of these walls
Whose modest wandering through my dream
Passes beneath my gaze disturbing nothing of itsabsence,
Like a glass that moves across the sun,
In a pure economy of reason’s splendour.





The Sylph


Not seen not known
I am the perfume
Alive and dead
Borne on the wind!

Not seen not known
Chance or genius?
No sooner come
The job is done!

Not read nor understood?
How many mistakes promised
To the finest minds?

Not seen not known,
A moment of bare breast
Between two gowns!




translation copyright © Ian Brinton and Michael Grant, 2019

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