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Reflections of a working writer and reader

 

 

An Old French Poet

Sully Prudhomme was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Literature in 1901. His best known poem was La vase brisé, of which the following is a translation by Pete Crowther:

The Broken Vase

A fan’s light tap
Was enough to chip
This flower vase
In which the roses
Now are dying.
No sound it made

But a hairline crack
Day after day
Almost unseen
Crept slowly round the glass
And dropp by dropp
The water trickled out

While the vital sap
In the roses’ stems
Grew dry.
Now no-one doubts:
“Don’t touch”, they say,
“It’s broken”.

Often, too, the hand one loves
May lightly brush against the heart
And bruise it.
Slowly then across that heart
A hidden crack will spread
And love’s fair flower perish.

The original French version is available here.

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