Anonymous French from almost 1000 years ago. Can’t help but wonder if Lewis Carroll ever saw this. . .
The note of a trumpet was eating the heart of a thunderbolt with vinegar
When a dead hobnail caught the course of a star in a bird-trap.
In the air there was a grain of rye, when the barking of a roasting spit
And the stump of a piece of cloth found a worn-out fart and cut off its ear.
Marceline Desbordes-Valmore, 1786-1859
When he grew pale, and his voice trembled,
And suddenly he could no longer speak;
When his eyes, burning beneath the lid,
Gave me a wound I thought he felt alike;
When all his charms, lighted by a fire
That has never faded,
Were printed in the depth of my desire,
He did not love. I did.
Louise Labe (French, 1525-1566)
Long-felt desires, hopes as long as vain–
sad sighs–slow tears accustomed to run sad
into as many rivers as two eyes could add,
pouring like fountains, endless as the rain–
cruelty beyond humanity, a pain
so hard it makes compassionate stars go mad
with pity: these are the first passions I’ve had.
Do you think love could root in my soul again?
If it arched the great bow back again at me,
licked me again with fire, and stabbed me deep
with the violent worst, as awful as before,
the wounds that cut me everwhere would keep
me shielded, so there would be no place free
for love. It covers me. It can pierce no more.
Paul Verlaine, 19th century France
High-heels were struggling with a full-length dress
So that, between the wind and the terrain,
At times a shining stocking would be seen,
And gone too soon. We liked that foolishness.
Also, at times a jealous insect’s dart
Bothered our beauties. Suddenly a white
Nape flashed beneath the branches, and this sight
Was a delicate feast for a young fool’s heart.
Evening fell, equivocal, dissembling,
The women who hung dreaming on our arms
Spoke in low voices, words that had such charms
That ever since our stunned soul has been trembling.
Isaac De Benserade (French c. 1650)
In bed we laugh, in bed we cry;
And, born in bed, in bed we die.
The near approach a bed may show
Of human bliss to human woe.
By Maurice Sceve, French, 1510-1562
Every long and wide expanse of sea,
Every whirling verge of solid land,
Every mountain ridge both low & high,
Every distant site of day & night,
Every space between, O you who unsettle me,
Will be filled by your inexorability.
Thus traversing the spans of time,
You will surmount the height of stars,
Your sacred name, under my lazy spell,
Setting full sail, beyond all heaven & all hell.