05 June 2009

Friday In Translation: Le Dernier Poème/The Last Poem by Robert Desnos

This poem has assumed mythic proportions, according to French sources. Robert Desnos died of typhus less than a week after liberation from the concentration camp Terezin, in the former Czechoslovakia. In his pocket was found a poem, this "dernier poème", dedicated to his wife. But actually it is largely the same as the last stanza of a poem, J'ai tant rêvé de toi (I have dreamed of you so much), from Corps et biens, published in 1930. I have taken liberties with the last line; I just couldn't stand the sound of "your sunny life", as many translations have it. I also think that the ssecond stanza works better in English with more line breaks.

Le Dernier Poème
The Last Poem

I have dreamed of you so much,
Walked so much, talked so much,
Loved so much your shadow,
That there is nothing left for me of you.

I am left to be no more
than a shadow among shadows,
One hundred times
more shadow than shadow,
The shadow that will come again and again
to your sundrenched life.

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