The Great Hearted Maid (La servante au grand coeur dont vous étiez jalouse)

The great hearted maid that made you so jealous
Obligingly sleeps in the humble grass
I think that we should bring her some flowers
The sorrow of the dead is so much deeper than ours

And when October bares the trees to their bones
Blowing his somber wind around the headstones
The dead bear the living with such chagrin
To sleep, as we do, so snug in our linens

While they are consumed by black desolation
Without a bed partner, or soft conversation
These frozen old skeletons sculpted by the worm
Each winter snowmelt so keenly discerned

And the centuries pass without friend or kin
To replace the old tatters that flap in the wind

If some evening while the fire whistles and sings
I should see her sit, calm in her chair, placidly rocking
If on a blue and cold night in December
I found her by the fire, raking the embers

Solemnly returned from her eternal nowhere
To swaddle again the child raised under her care
What could I answer that pious soul in reply
When I saw the tears falling from her excavated eye?

–Translated by Chris Schoen

[View original poem here.]


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