In my novel Lost In Paradise, I make use of a handful of poems to aid the plot. I hadn’t planned on doing this at the outset – other than including a few lines from Milton’s Paradise Lost – it just happened after Scarlet, one of the story’s protagonists, uttered a line from Louis MacNeice’s poem ‘Snow’.
World is crazier and more of it than we think…
… a line that just popped into my head as I was writing.
One of the poems I make use of is ‘Le Pont Mirabeau’ by Apollinaire. This is the fragment I used:
Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Lucienne
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine
Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure
La Lucienne is la Seine in Apollinaire’s original, but since the Lucienne is the river that runs through the story’s imaginary city of Parrinon, I took the liberty of changing it.
Being a poem, the words and meaning are open to interpretation, so I leave that to the reader – and Google Translate if you don’t read French.
But the reason I’m writing this note is because only yesterday I discovered that the Pogues recorded a version of the poem in an English translation, and it’s simply marvellous.
And their translation of the poem, tuned to fit the lyrics of a song, is quite beautiful:
Below the Pont Mirabeau
Slow flows the Seine
And all out loves together
Must I recall again
Joy would always follow
Let night fall, let the hours go by
The days pass on and here I stand