The Bee, by Paul Valéry

Paul Valéry

Here is my new translation of Paul Valéry’s sonnet ‘L’Abeille’, which first appeared in the 1919 collection ‘Charmes’. The translation is followed by Valéry’s French original as it appeared in that book.

The Bee

Whatever, so fine and so fatal,

Whatever your sting, blonde bee,

With merely a dream of lace

I’ve covered my tender rise.


Prick the handsome gourd of my chest

On which Love either dies or sleeps,

So a bit of vermilion self

Stains the round and rebellious flesh!


I need a torment both quick and intense:

A pain both sharp and complete

Is worth more than a slumbering scourge.


Let my senses enkindle then

With this tiny alarm of gold,

Lest Love either die or sleep!


Quelle, et si fine, et si mortelle,

Que soit ta pointe, blonde abeille,

Je n’ai, sur ma tendre corbeille,

Jeté qu’un songe de dentelle.


Pique du sein la gourde belle,

Sur qui l’Amour meurt ou sommeille,

Qu’un peu de moi-même vermeille,

Vienne à la chair ronde et rebelle!


J’ai grand besoin d’un prompt tourment:

Un mal vif et bien terminé

Vaut mieux qu’un supplice dormant!


Soit donc mon sens illuminé

Par cette infime alerte d’or

Sans qui l’Amour meurt ou s’endort!






One comment on “The Bee, by Paul Valéry

  1. violaine2016 says:

    Bel hommage à Paul Valéry

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