Paul Verlaine: “Seashells”


Every jewel-encrusted shell
in the grotto where we first found love
has its particular tale to tell:

One has the violet of our souls’ desire,
pillaged from the blood of our hearts,
when I burned for you and you caught fire.

Another has the sickly guise
of your paleness when at times you tired
and blamed me for my mocking eyes.

And this one here mimics the shape
of your ear; and in that one there, I see
the rosy flesh along your nape …

… But one among them unsettled me.

Paul Verlaine

Translated from French by Paul Weinfield, © 2014

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