Poor faun, who must expire,
Reflect me in your pupils.
Take my memory to dance
For my dark immortals.
Go, and tell those pensive dead
For whom my pranks were a joy so rare,
I dream of them beneath the yews
Where I walk, petite and fair.
Describe my air, my brow so vivid,
Bound by woollen bandelettes;
How firm my mouth is, fingers plump
And redolent of grass and privet.
Tell them of my weightless moves
As various as the shadow play
That teeters through the living leaves
Innumerable in pearmen’s groves.
You can include the lazy look
That slows my eyelids, almost sullen,
How I do my evening dance
In a dress the breeze has swollen.
Whisper to them how I nap,
My bare arms folded underneath
My cheek, my skin with hint of gold
Admitting veins of violet.
Say how sweet it is to see
My hair as blue as plums can be
And how each foot reflects the other,
How the moon invades each eye.
And how, when dusk weighs sad and gloomy,
Cast down by the cool of springs
And aching for them and their love,
In vain I pull their shadows to me.
Comtesse Anna de Noailles (1876-1933)
Painting by Philip de Lazlo, completed 1913. Translation by Anthony Howell