Paul Valéry: Footsteps

Children of my silence,
Your saintly steps, unrushed,
Approach my pallet’s vigil,
Frozen, timeless, hushed.

Pure one, divinest shadow,
Steps verging on retreat,
Gods—what gifts I envision
Borne on those naked feet!

If with lips pressed toward me
You deign to nourish this
Dweller in my obsessions
With an appeasing kiss,

Don’t hasten to your mercy.
Being and not being is sweet.
My life is a vivid waiting,
My heart your padding feet.

 

Les Pas

Tes pas, enfants de mon silence,
Saintement, lentement placés,
Vers le lit de ma vigilance
Procèdent muets et glacés.

Personne pure, ombre divine,
Qu’ils sont doux, tes pas retenus !
Dieux !… tous les dons que je devine
Viennent à moi sur ces pieds nus !

Si, de tes lèvres avancées,
Tu prépares pour l’apaiser,
À l’habitant de mes pensées
La nourriture d’un baiser,

Ne hâte pas cet acte tendre,
Douceur d’être et de n’être pas,
Car j’ai vécu de vous attendre,
Et mon cœur n’était que vos pas.

Jan Schreiber

Jan Schreiber

Jan Schreiber was Poet Laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts from 2015 to 2017. His books include Digressions (1970), Wily Apparitions (1992), Bell Buoys (1998), Peccadilloes (2014), and Bay Leaves, as well as two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. His criticism is collected in his book Sparring with the Sun (2013). He teaches in the BOLLI program at Brandeis University and runs the annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western Colorado University. His collection of Paul Valéry’s poems in translation will be published later this year by Cambridge Scholars.
Jan Schreiber

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Author: Jan Schreiber

Jan Schreiber was Poet Laureate of Brookline, Massachusetts from 2015 to 2017. His books include Digressions (1970), Wily Apparitions (1992), Bell Buoys (1998), Peccadilloes (2014), and Bay Leaves, as well as two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. His criticism is collected in his book Sparring with the Sun (2013). He teaches in the BOLLI program at Brandeis University and runs the annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western Colorado University. His collection of Paul Valéry’s poems in translation will be published later this year by Cambridge Scholars.