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Strange meeting

Language: English

It seemed that out of the battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which Titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.
With a thousand fears that vision's face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
"Strange, friend," I said, "Here is no cause to mourn."
"None," said the other, "Save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also; I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something has been left,
Which must die now. I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled.
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress,
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery;
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery;
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.

"I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark; for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now..."


Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Authorship


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Settings in other languages or adaptations:

Other available translations, adaptations, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , title 1: "Étrange rencontre", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Text added to the website: 2015-03-21.
Last modified: 2016-06-30 12:40:09
Line count: 44
Word count: 363

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Étrange rencontre

Language: French (Français) after the English

Il semble que je me sois échappé de la bataille
En bas d'un profond et sombre tunnel, creusé depuis longtemps
Dans les granites que des guerres titanesques avaient excavés.

Pourtant là aussi un amoncellement de dormeurs grognaient,
Trop plongés dans leurs pensées ou la mort pour être réveillés.
Puis, comme je les tâtais, l'un fit un bond et me fixa,
Une piteuse reconnaissance dans ses yeux ébahis,
Levant ses mains misérables, comme pour une bénédiction.
Et à son sourire je connus ce sombre couloir,
À son sourire mort je sus que nous étions en Enfer.
La face de cette vision était grenelée de mille souffrances ;
Pourtant le sang de la surface n'arrivait pas ici,
Et aucun canon ne pilonnait, ou dans les conduits ne gémissait.
« Étrange ami — dis-je — il n'y a pas lieu de porter le deuil. »
« Rien — dit l'autre — ne sauve les années perdues,
Le manque d'espoir. Quelle que soit ton espérance,
C'était aussi celle de ma vie ; je suis allé chasser fougueusement
La beauté la plus farouche au monde,
Qui n'est pas dans les yeux calmes, ni dans les cheveux tressés,
Mais celle qui se moque de la marche régulière du temps,
Et si cela cause du chagrin, ce chagrin est plus somptueux qu'ici.
Car bien des hommes ont pu rire de mon allégresse,
Et de mes pleurs il est resté quelque chose
Qui doit maintenant mourir. Je veux dire, la vérité non dite,
La pitié de la guerre, la pitié distillée par la guerre.
Maintenant les hommes seront satisfaits de nos destructions.
Ou, insatisfaits, leur sang bouillonnera et sera répandu.
Ils seront rapides, auront la promptitude de la tigresse,
Aucun ne rompra les rangs bien que les nations s'éloigneront du progrès.
J'avais du courage, et j'avais du mystère,
J'avais de la sagesse, et j'avais la connaissance 
Pour manquer la marche de ce monde en retraite
Vers de vaines citadelles sans murailles.
Ainsi quand beaucoup de sang aura bloqué les roues de leurs chariots,
Je me lèverais et les laverais à de doux puits,
Même avec des vérités reposant trop profond pour souiller.
J'aurais déversé mon esprit sans compter
Mais pas par des blessures ; pas sur la fin de la guerre.
Les fronts des hommes ont saigné sans qu'ils n'aient de blessures.

Je suis l'ennemi que tu as tué, mon ami.
Je te connaissais dans cette obscurité : car tu fronçais ainsi les sourcils
Hier quand tu me transperçais et me tuais.
J'esquivais ; mais mes mains étaient froides et pas déterminées.
Dormons maintenant … »


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Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 by Pierre Mathé, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

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Text added to the website: 2015-03-21.
Last modified: 2015-03-21 17:13:26
Line count: 44
Word count: 428