'L'Apres Midi d'un Faune' 1912 Leon Bakst, US Public Domain
‘L’Apres Midi d’un Faune’ 1912 Leon Bakst, US Public Domain

The Afternoon of a Faun (L’après-midi d’un faune) by Stéphane Mallarmé (1865), translated by Roger Fry (1936). It is a poem which tells the story of a fawn who has just woken up after an encounter with the nymphs. Here is the poem:

These nymphs I would perpetuate.

So clear

Their light carnation, that it floats in the air

Heavy with tufted slumbers.

Was it a dream I loved?

My doubt, a heap of ancient night, is finishing

In many a subtle branch, which, left the true

Wood itself, proves, alas! that all alone I gave

Myself for triumph the ideal sin of roses.

Let me reflect

. . .if the girls of which you tell

Figure a wish of your fabulous senses!

Faun, the illusion escapes from the blue eyes

And cold, like a spring in tears, of the chaster one:

But, the other, all sighs, do you say she contrasts

Like a breeze of hot day in your fleece!

But no! through the still, weary faintness

Choking with heat the fresh morn if it strives,

No water murmurs but what my flute pours

On the chord sprinkled thicket; and the sole wind

Prompt to exhale from my two pipes, before

It scatters the sound in a waterless shower,

Is, on the horizon’s unwrinkled space,

The visible serene artificial breath

Of inspiration, which regains the sky.


You can find the rest of the poem, in its original French form, on wikisource.

Translated by Roger Fry (1936) in Poems : Stéphane Mallarmé .


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