The Judgment of Paris
Some fool falls for a femme and finds
Old friends and kin have changed their minds
About his mind and character.
“What on earth made you choose her?
We see you have made a tragic mistake.”
But this minion of myth would make
The same decision again and again,
Being overmastered when
Venereal Venus steals the scene
Upon that lush and lust-rich green
When Troy was rendered ripe for flame,
And all because of Eris’s game
With one doomed and dazzled male
Ordained to peer beyond the veil
Of humdrum home and hearth and duty
And burn for deathless bodily beauty.
Red Poppy Blossoms
(translated after the German of Georg Heym
by William Ruleman)
You took red poppy blossoms—lots of them—
Lovely flowers that the summer gave.
Your slender hand broke off each tender stem
From the lush green garden, wave on wave.
In the gorges, roses hung down low,
Freely offered for your own desire,
Agleam again in hues of heightened glow
To grace your heart now with their fragrant fire.
(translated after the French of Paul Verlaine
by William Ruleman)
See fruits and flowers, leaves and branches here;
And see here too my heart, which beats for you.
Let not your white hands tear them, but with dear
Endearment eye these humble gifts for you.
I come to you with dew all over me
That morning winds have scattered on my brow;
Let my fatigue stretch at your feet to be
Refreshed by dreams of your dear presence now.
And in your young lap let me lay my head,
Bemused by daydreams of your kiss and smile;
And since the tempest of our lust has fled,
Let me sleep while you repose a while.
Formerly a professor of English, William Ruleman now devotes himself to writing and painting. His most recent books include the poetry collection From Rage to Hope (White Violet Books, 2016) and his translations of Hermann Hesse’s Early Poems (Cedar Springs Books, 2017) and Stefan Zweig’s unfinished novel Clarissa (Ariadne Press, also 2017). More about him can be found at www.williamruleman.com.
Brief Biography of the Poets Translated:
Georg Heym (1887-1912), one of the most famous of the German Expressionist poets, is best known for his nightmarish visions of the modern city and cultural collapse, but he was also a sensitive and romantic observer of nature. His poetic output before his accidental death by drowning at the age of 24 was amazing.
Paul Verlaine (1844-96) is well-known as one of the greatest French poets of the latter 19th-century.