Monday, 4 February 2019

Poetry Revisited: Le temps perdu – Lost Time by Sully Prudhomme

Le temps perdu

(de Les Vaines Tendresses: 1875)

Si peu d’oeuvres pour tant de fatigue et d’ennui!
De stériles soucis notre journée est pleine:
Leur meute sans pitié nous chasse à perdre haleine,
Nous pousse, nous dévore, et l’heure utile a fui...

«Demain! J’irai demain voir ce pauvre chez lui,
«Demain je reprendrai ce livre ouvert à peine,
«Demain, je te dirai, mon âme, où je te mène,
«Demain je serai juste et fort... Pas aujourd’hui.»

Aujourd’hui, que de soins, de pas et de visites!
Oh! l’implacable essaim des devoirs parasites
Qui pullulent autour de nos tasses de thé!

Ainsi chôment le coeur, la pensée et le livre,
Et pendant qu’on se tue à différer de vivre,
Le vrai devoir dans l’ombre attend la volonté.

Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907),
vrai nom René François Armand Prudhomme
poète français et
lauréat du Prix Nobel de literature 1901

Lost Time

(from Vain Endearments: 1875)

So few works considering the strain and hassle!
Of sterile concerns our day is full:
Their pack hunts us pitylessly without losing breath,
pushes us, devores us, and the useful hour is gone…

“Tomorrow! Tomorrow I’ll visit this poor one at home,
“Tomorrow I’ll resume this book hardly opened,
“Tomorrow, I’ll tell you, my soul, where I take you,
“Tomorrow I’ll be just and strong… Not today.”

Today, how many cares, steps and visits!
Oh! The unremitting swarm of parasite duties
That multiply around our tea cups!

Thus rest the heart, the thought and the book,
And while killing oneself to postpone living,
The true duty in the shadow waits for the will.

Sully Prudhomme (1839-1907)
real name René François Armand Prudhomme
French poet and
laureate of the Nobel Prize in Literature 1901
Literal translation: Edith LaGraziana 2018


  1. Dear Edith, I don't know if you see the comments left here or not. Perhaps you have decided not to reply to comments for the reasons mentioned in this poem! I would not fault you. I just want you to know how much I continue to enjoy your blog and wish you a fruitful year of reading in 2019.

    1. Hello Judy,
      yes, indeed, time is the major reason why I never seem to get round to replying to the (few) comments that I get. Another is that on my old computer, which I occasionally use for a quick look online, comments somehow don't work...
      Anyway, I've read all your comments since the ende of the year and thank you for your loyalty. And thanks for your wishes for 2019, too - a fruitful year of reading to you, too.


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