"A Little Erotic Poem" by Renée Vivien

Originally published in Vivien's 1908 collection of poems, Sillages, under the title "Petit Poème Érotique."

And I regret and I search for Psappha… [1]

And I regret and I search for your sweet kiss.
What other woman knows how to calm me and give me such bliss?
Who else knows the ancient purview
As well and frankly as you?

I know you're lying, your laugh sounds hollow,
But your kiss is savorous and slow,
It lingers and puts me under a spell
Because you were sent from both heaven and hell. [2]

But please remember that I will love you forever…
Do I no longer mean anything to you? If never
Will you sob my name again in the instant sans defense,
Please remember this cry following a great silence.

I no longer know how to love beautiful music or amaryllis
And my house resembles a great necropolis.
Me who loves to sing, I remain quiet.
I desire and I search and, above all, I regret…

Translator's Notes

  1. In the original Greek, "Sappho" is actually spelled more like "Psappha." Thus, this is the spelling that Renée Vivien preferred to use.
  2. The original lines were:

    Il s'attardait, et ce baisser atteignait l'âme
    Car tu fus à la fois le serpent et la femme

    Which would literally translate to:

    It lingers, and this kiss reaches the soul
    Because you are simultaneously the serpent and the woman.

    I wanted to at least keep the rhymes, even if I don't really know enough about poetry to keep the meter intact. Still keeping the Biblical reference, though?