Colombina by Paul Verlaine


Pierrot who on cricket’s
legs legs it through thickets—
one leap—
Cassander (old hoodie),
Leander the goody-
shoes creep,

and Harlequin (Domin-
o’s eyes have an omin-
ous look:
the outfit’s so natty
it’s positive that he
’s a crook

are all thumping guitars an’
pretending they’re Tarzan,
in a pile-drive entreaty
of Little Miss Pretty,
this child

whose eyes are a message
denying her undressage
with such
a defense of her fair butt
as says “You may stare, but
don’t touch!”

Ye planets whose motion
can scupper an ocean
of ships!!
She grants them a shocking
wee glimpse of her stocking,
and skips

away to My previous
could tell you I’m devious
as cats
And the rosebud in hair-do
inciting her ne’er-do-
well prats.


By Paul Verlaine, translation by John R.G. Turner.

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