Azure, ’tis I, come from Elysian shores
To hear the waves break on sonorous steps,
And see again the sunrise full of ships
Rising from darkness upon golden oars.
My solitary arms call on the kings
Whose salty beards amused my silver hands.
I wept; they sang of triumphs in far lands,
And gulfs fled backward upon watery wings.
I hear the trumpet and the martial horn
That wield the rhythm of the beating blade,
The song of rowers binding the tumult.
And the gods! exalting on the prow with scorn
Their ancient smile that the slow waves insult,
Hold out their sculptured arms to my sad shade.
From the French of Paul Valéry
Janet Lewis, “Helen, the Sad Queen” from Selected Poems of Janet Lewis. Copyright © 2000 by Janet Lewis. Reprinted by permission of Ohio University Press / Swallow Press.
Source: Poems Old and New 1918-1978 (Ohio University Press, 1981)