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L'âme ne frémit plus chez ce vieil instrument;
Son couvercle baissé lui donne un aspect sombre;
Relégué du salon, il sommeille dans l'ombre
Ce misanthrope aigri de son isolement.

Je me souviens encor des nocturnes sans nombre
Que me jouait ma mère, et je songe, en pleurant,
À ces soirs d'autrefois - passés dans la pénombre,
Quand Liszt se disait triste et Beethoven mourant.

Ô vieux piano d'ébène, image de ma vie,
Comme toi du bonheur ma pauvre âme est ravie,
Il te manque une artiste, il me faut L'Idéal;

Et pourtant là tu dors, ma seule joie au monde,
Qui donc fera renaître, ô détresse profonde,
De ton clavier funèbre un concert triomphal?



The soul of this old instrument is still, lying
With lowered lid, it has become a somber sight
Banished from the salon, it sleeps in dark respite
In isolation, its human soul denying

I can still remember every countless night
My mother played for me, and now I dream, crying
Of those nights long ago, faded into twilight
When Liszt seemed so sad and Beethoven was dying

O old black piano, reflection of my self
Echoing your bliss with joy within myself
You miss the artist, for me She cannot be replaced

And yet there still you sleep, my soul's withdrawn relief
Who will bring you back to life, o unrelenting grief,
Will ever your sad keys a glorious concert play?
A cooperative project with my sister. A student of translation, she was asked by her boss to translate this poem, keeping the form and flow of the traditional style, and came to me for help. Together we came up with the English below, hoping to at least keep the themes intact, if the words have to be changed for the sake of rhyming.

The original is Vieux Piano - Émile Nelligan
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April 10, 2012
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