The Three Birds (a ballade translation)

Depart at once and fly away,
Beyond golden fields of oats and hay,

To the wood pigeon was my query.
Find me the flower, without delay,
Which will make her take note and love me.

But the wood pigeon, it said, Nay, nay.
It told me: That’s too far away!

Take flight, and soar aloft up high,
Help me, I count on it, as you fly,
To the eagle I vainly inquired.
Find me fire from heaven in the sky,
If to delight her that is required.
But the eagle, in its reply,
It told me: That’s too far up high!

Devour! Before it is too late,
This heart, too full of her in this state,
To the vulture I at last pleaded.
Take your share, no need to be ornate,
Leave undamaged parts that are needed.
But the vulture answered, without wait,
It told me: That’s too far, too late!

05.23.94 – 07.11.94


This poem is my personal translation of the French poem Les Trois Oiseaux (The Three Birds), by François Coppée as part of his L’Exilée collection in 1877. However, I translated it not just into English, but into the French ballade form, to keep some respect for the French origins of the original poem that appears below.



J’ai dit au ramier: Pars et va quand même,
Au delà des champs d’avoine et de foin,
Me chercher la fleur qui fera qu’on m’aime.
La ramier m’a dit: C’est trop loin!

Et j’ai dit à l’aigle: Aide moi, j’y compte,
Et, si c’est le feu du ciel qu’il me faut,
Pour l’aller ravir, prends ton vol et monte.
Et l’aigle m’a dit: C’est trop haut!

Et j’ai dit enfin au vautour: Dévore
Ce coeur trop plein d’elle et prends ta part.
Laisse ce qui peut être intact encore.
La vautour m’a dit: C’est trop tard!

François Coppée


Copyright by Minh Tan on listed dated of completion.



Notes to this poem…

Continue reading “The Three Birds (a ballade translation)”

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