Monday, February 15, 2021

The Roses of Saadi


The Roses of Saadi
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore

Translated by Louis Simpson

I wanted to bring you roses this morning.
There were so many I wanted to bring,
The knots at my waist could not hold so many.
The knots burst. All the roses took wing,
The air was filled with roses flying,
Carried by the wind, into the sea.
The waves are red, as though they are burning.
My dress still has the scent of the morning,
Remembering roses. Smell them on me.

Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (20 June 1786 – 23 July 1859) was a French poet and novelist. She published Élégies et Romances, her first poetic work, in 1819. Her melancholy, elegiacal poems are admired for their grace and profound emotion. She is the only female writer included in the famous ‘Les Poètes maudits’ anthology (“The Accursed Poets”, a series of articles on poets) published by the great French poet Paul Verlaine in 1884. A volume of her poetry was among the books in Friedrich Nietzsche's library.

Desbordes-Valmore captures intensity of hope and pleasure in this beautiful poem. Imagine a girl trying to carry the whole garden to her lover! I can visualize the strained knots bursting into red flames and permeating the air and turning the sea a canvass of crimson. This is how a love poem should unfold.

A belated Valentine's poem.

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