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Poetry in Translation (LXVII): Alfred de Musset – “The Moon Ballad”, “Balada Lunii”

November 3rd, 2009 · 2 Comments · Poetry, Translations

Poetry in Translation

Alfred de Musset (1810-1857) by David D'Angers

Alfred de Musset (1810-1857) by David D'Angers

Poem by Alfred de MUSSET (1810-1857)
English translation by Barbara MILLER
Romanian  translation by Constantin ROMAN
Set to Music by Edouard LALO


Era in noaptea neagrà
Pe un turn din câmpii
Luna, luna
Ca un punct pe un “i”

Lunà, ce spirit sumbru
Te plimb-asa tiptil
Din umbrà
Rotundul tàu profil?

Esti ochiul chior al cerului profan?
Sau înger care
Priveste prin ochean
Sub masca lui palidà?

O minge esti, fireste?
Sau doar gandacul care
Se tot rostogoleste
Din lipsa de picioare?

(Tradus din franceza de Constant, Londra, Iulie 2008)

© copyright Constantin ROMAN 2008-2009
Ballad to the Moon (Alfred de Musset)

It was, in the dark night,
On the yellowed steeple,
The moon, the moon
Like a dot on an i.

Moon, what dark spirit
Walks at the end of a leash
Through the gloom,
Your face and your profile?

Are you the one-eyed heavens’ single eye?
Which bigoted cherub
Peers at us
Beneath your pale mask?

Are you merely a ball?
A big fat daddy-long-legs
That rolls, that rolls
Without legs and arms?


Ballade à la lune

C’était, dans la nuit brune,
Sur le clocher jauni,
La lune, la lune,
Comme un point sur un i.

Lune, quel esprit sombre
Promène au bout d’un fil,
Dans l’ombre,
Ta face et ton profil?

Es-tu l’oeil du ciel borgne?
Quel chérubin cafard
Nous lorgne
Sous ton masque blafard?

N’es-tu rien qu’une boule?
Qu’un grand faucheux bien gras
Qui roule, qui roule
Sans pattes et sans bras?



2 Comments so far ↓

  • natalie gawdiak

    One suggestion:
    One might invert that first line thus: “It was in the night’s gloom,”
    One observation:
    There are nights when the sky is definitely “brown.”I have a small oil painting from Ukraine in which the sky is brown. I paint myself and would never have thought to use such a color, but it works perfectly, both in the
    de Musset’s poem and in this little nightscape.

    • editor

      Thanks for your comment: as you may have noticed the translation tries to respect the rhythm and rime which inevitably may have had to compromise on the choice of specific words.
      However, if I may say so a “brown” night in Romanian does not sound right – at least to me! Regardless, am grateful for your attention!