Ophelia: a poem


I translated my Ophelia poem.


She floats on the waters, ashen and unearthly,
Like a sweet Ophelia by her lost love broken.
A smile resting on lips so pearly they glisten,
And her damp silky hair, as black as a raven,
Remain sole witnesses of her sunken beauty.

– Why did she part this world? Which fate could thus decide?
The canvas begets thoughts the artist cannot shush.
– Might King Hamlet himself have guided my paintbrush?
Surprise and misery flood him in a stout gush.
He is lost in his mind and the deep maze inside…

Recovered memories suddenly propagate,
What he recalls from her throws him in a nightmare:
He beheld the lost soul yesterday near the mere,
However he had failed to notice her despair.

– I do understand now, he whimpers, much too late!

As I said in the French-language article, I’m really fascinated by Ophelia and her numerous avatars (such as Ophelia by John William Waterhouse, above).

It was really interesting to translate the poem, because I wanted to keep alexandrines – I’m not ready for Shakespearian iambic pentameters!, rhymes and the overall structure.

I had to change the rhyme structure to make the first stanza sound OK without straying too far away from the original French meaning. Then I had to apply this constraint to the other stanzas. I learnt a lot of vocabulary!

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