Exploring The Waste Land - Show supplementary text

El Desdichado
Gérard de Nerval

English translations in notes windowde Nerval's original French
R.A. Parker translationIn NOTES frame
Parker translation notesIn DEFINTIONS frame
Other translations (links)In AUXILARY window
Sources for text

The translation of "El Desdichado" on the Exploring The Waste Land website was done by Rickard A. Parker, the site's author, on February 23, 2002.

My translation is a mixture of goals:

  1. First, I attempted a literal translation.
  2. If possible, without changing meanings too much, I tried to translate poetically.
  3. When a few meanings are possible I picked one that I think enhances the reading of The Waste Land.

These are the notes to the poem and also my translation notes:

El Desdichado
Spanish for The Unfortunate One, The Disinherited or The Outcast.
The Darkened Soul - le Ténébreux
This could be translated as the Melancholy One or the Dark One. Since I must use Melancholy later I decided to avoid its usage here. Dark One gives a first impression to English readers of the Devil. While I'm told that le ténébreux typically is used to describe a long lasting character trait I am using Darkened as if the speaker were acted upon. I do so because becoming a widower would have have this effect. I use Soul to invoke the depths of the despair.
The Prince of Aquitaine - le Prince d'Aquitaine
De Nerval believed that he was descended from a noble family from Aquitaine, one that owned a castle, since ruined.
At the abandoned tower - à la Tour abolie
Depending on usage, the French word à could be translated as at, by or with. I decided that the imagery was best with the speaker and the tower placed together. The word abolie could be rendered as ruined or abandoned. I chose abandoned as better fitting the mood of the rest of the poem.
Bejewelled - constellé
I could have used constellated or studded.
Posillipo - Pausilippe
A town in Italy near the Bay of Naples. De Nerval had visited Italy.
The sea of Italy - la mer d'Italie
Probably the Bay of Naples.
Vine - le Pampre
Grape Vine. I left off grape but did so reluctantly as I would like the reader to consider the image of the Rose and passion with the grape vine and its religious significance (Christ and the fruit of the vine, John 15:1-3).
The Greek god of Love. The Roman equivalent is Cupid.
Phoebus -Phébus
The Greek god also known as Phoebus Apollo. He was the god of poetry.
Guy of Lusignan was King of Jerusalem (1186-92) until Saladin took the city and then he was King of Cyprus (1192-94).
Charles de Gontaut (1562?-1602) the French Duke of Biron and a military leader.
Acheron - l'Achéron
One of several rivers of the Greek underworld.
Orpheus -Orphée
A famed musician in Greek myth. He was the son of Apollo and the Muse Calliope. He went to Hades to retrieve his wife Eurydice. His lute playing was so beautiful the gods allowed him to leave with her but when he turned to see if she was still following, according to agreement, she was returned to Hades. Orpheus went after her again but this time he was torn apart and, in death, was reunited again with his wife.
The Fay - la Fée
A fairy or enchantress. Think of Morgan the Fay in the Arthurian legends.

Exploring The Waste Land - [Home] [E-mail] File date: Sunday, September 29, 2002