A sonnet by Paul Verlaine, originally written in French.  Parsifal, or Persival, was one of King Arthur's knights.  He is a figure of purity and renewal who features prominently in the legend of the Holy Grail.  The last line of this poem can be found in "The Fire Sermon" section of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, where the King Arthur legend also receives a lot of play.  In that poem, Parsifal would be a figure of hope.  Perhaps it is for that reason that he is only indirectly referenced.


by Paul Verlaine

Parsifal a vaincu les Filles, leur gentil
Babil et la luxure amusante - et sa pente
Vers la Chair de garçon vierge que cela tente
D'aimer les seins légers et ce gentil babil;

Il vaincu la Femme belle, au cœur subtil,
Étalant ses bras frais et sa gorge excitante;
Il a vaincu l'Enfer et rentre sous sa tente
Avec un lourd trophée à son bras puéril,

Avec la lance qui perça le Flanc suprême!
Il a guéri le roi, le voici roi lui-même,
Et prêtre du très saint Trésor essentiel.

En robe d'or il adore, gloire et symbole,
Le vase pur où resplendit le Sang réel.
- Et, ô ces voix d'enfants chantant dans la coupole!*

it can be translated as follows:

Parsifal has vanquished the daughters, with their gentle
Babble and amusing luxuriance; despite delight
Of the flesh that lures the virgin youth, tempts him
To love their swelling breasts and gentle babble;

He has vanquished fair Womankind, of subtle heart,
Her tender arms outstretched and her throat pale;
From harrowing Hell, he now returns triumphant,
Bearing a heavy trophy in his boyish hands,

With the spear that pierced the Saviour's side!
He healed the King, and shall be himself enthroned,
As priest-king of the sacred, vital treasures.

In robe of gold he worships that sign of grace,
The unblemished vessel in which shines the Holy Blood.
- And, o those children's voices singing in the dome!


* In my source (http://home.c2i.net/monsalvat/verlaine.htm) this line is written as above.  Elsewhere on Everything2 it is written as "Et O ces voix d enfants, chantant dans la coupole!"  Versions.  Go figure.

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