GUILLAUME APPOLLINAIRE • translated from the French by JENNA LE





    a new translation of the last stanzas of "La Chanson du Mal-aimé”
    by Guillaume Apollinaire

June sun, thou art a gayageum
that burns my fingers painfully….
In singing-sad delirium
I’m drifting toward mon beau Paris
without the heart to buy a gun.

Sundays here drag on and on
and organ-grinders from Morocco
flood the gray courtyards with their moans.
Pisaesque flowers in windowboxes
lean toward streets of cobblestones.

Paris evenings, drunk on gin,
aflame with electricity!
Green-spined streetcars use rail lines
as staves on which they songify
what this crazy Tech Age means.

Loud smoke-filled cafes resound
with the love of Roma girls,
the love of clogged mains underground,
the love of loinclothed boys gone viral….
Toward you, Love, they direct their sounds.

Me, I sing songs fit for queens,
expressing the zeitgeist of my era:
mermaid chanteys, sea-slave hymns,
the plaint of my lovelorn Sahara,
all that and everything in between.



from “La Chanson du Mal-aimé” 


Juin ton soleil ardente lyre
Brûle mes doigts endoloris
Triste et mélodieux délire
J'erre à travers mon beau Paris
Sans avoir le coeur d'y mourir

Les dimanches s'y éternisent
Et les orgues de Barbarie
Y sanglotent dans les cours grises
Les fleurs aux balcons de Paris
Penchent comme la tour de Pise

Soirs de Paris ivres du gin
Flambant de l'électricité
Les tramways flux verts sur l'échine
Musiquent au long des portées
De rails leur folie de machines

Les cafés gonflés de fumée
Crient tout l'amour de leurs tziganes
De tous leurs siphons enrhumés
De leurs garçons vêtus d'un pagne
Vers toi toi que j'ai tant aimée

Moi qui sais des lais pour les reines
Les complaintes de mes années
Des hymnes d'esclave aux murènes
La romance du mal aimé
Et des chansons pour les sirènes


Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) was one of the great French poets of all time, the author of the seminal collections Alcools (1913) and Calligrammes (1918). A charismatic advocate of many of the avant-garde movements of the early 20th century including Cubism and Surrealism, he sustained a head wound in World War I before dying in the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1918.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011), which was a Small Press Distribution Bestseller, and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (forthcoming from Anchor and Plume Press, 2016). Her poetry, fiction, essays, criticism, and translations appear or are forthcoming in AGNI Online, Bellevue Literary Review, The Best of the Raintown Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Los Angeles Review, Mas-sachusetts Review, The Village Voice, and elsewhere.