An Old Tune / Myrto | Gérard de Nerval, 1808-55

   Pablo Picasso, Paysage, Juan-les-Pins, 1924

                                                          An Old Tune

                                                         There is an air for which I would disown
                                                         Mozart's, Rossini's, Weber's melodies, -
                                                         A sweet sad air that languishes and sighs,
                                                         And keeps its secret charm for me alone.

                                                        Whene'er I hear that music vague and old,
                                                        Two hundred years are mist that rolls away;
                                                        The thirteenth Louis reigns, and I behold
                                                        A green land golden in the dying day.

                                                        An old red castle, strong with stony towers,
                                                        The windows gay with many coloured glass;
                                                        Wide plains, and rivers flowing among flowers,
                                                        That bathe the castle basement as they pass.

                                                        In antique weed, with dark eyes and gold hair,
                                                        A lady looks forth from her window high;
                                                        It may be that I knew and found her fair,
                                                        In some forgotten life, long time gone by. 

 Pablo Picasso, Guitar, Glass and Dish with Fruit, 1924


                                                      It is of you, divine enchantress, I am thinking, Myrto,
                                                      Burning with a thousand fires at haughty Posilipo,
                                                      Of your forehead flowing with an Oriental glare,
                                                      Of the black grapes mixed with the gold of your hair.

                                                      From your cup also I drank to intoxication,
                                                      And from the furtive lightning of your smiling eyes,
                                                      While I was seen praying at the feet of Iacchus,
                                                      For the Muse has made me one of Greece's sons.

                                                      Over there the volcano has re-opened, and I know
                                                      It is because yesterday you touched it with your nimble toe,
                                                      And suddenly the horizon was covered with ashes.

                                                     Since a Norman Duke shattered your gods of clay,
                                                     Evermore beneath the branches of Virgil's laurel,
                                                     The pale hydrangea mingles with the green myrtle! 

                                                     Gérard de Nerval, 1808-55


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