Coriolan Ardouin

La Tristesse / Sadness



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Coriolan Ardouin

Translation By

Miriam Patterson

Translator Biography

Miriam Patterson is an associate professor in a private Christian university. She has been teaching Spanish for 18 years and she hopes to teach French soon, too. She's currently learning Italian and she, along with her family, travel around the world each summer. Miriam loves baking and cooking new recipes and enjoys exercising. She is originally from Mexico, but currently lives in Greenville, SC.

Publication Date



English language translation of Coriolan Ardouin's "Tristesse" by Miriam Patterson.

Lu par Laetitia Zicchinella


Jan 1st, 12:00 AM

La Tristesse / Sadness

English language translation of Coriolan Ardouin's "Tristesse" by Miriam Patterson.

Lu par Laetitia Zicchinella

Original Work

La Tristesse


La tristesse n'est pas une fleur du jeune âge.

La brise vole et chante et baise le feuillage,

La Rose vient d’éclore et le Cygne d'amour

Glisse sur les flots bleus où se mire le jour.

Tout est joie et plaisir dans le cœur du jeune homme!

Il s'emplit des parfums dont la brise s'embaume,

Et comme sur le lac le beau cygne qui fuit

Laisse à peine un sillon que la lame détruit,

Il glisse sur la vie et nage à sa surface

Cette vie océan qui gronde et qui s'amasse,

Qui compte mille écueils, et qui n'a pas un port

Où la vague écumante, un jour calme, s’endort.


Oh ! si mon cœur est plein de larmes, d'amertume,

Comme une onde de sable ou comme un ciel de brume,

C’est que je n’ai connu que peines et douleurs,

C'est qu'enfant je n'ai bu qu'un lait mêlé de pleurs,

C'est que le jour fatal où m'a souri ma mère,

Dans la chambre voisine on couvrait d'un suaire

Le cercueil de mon frère ! Oh ! j’ai bien vu depuis !

J'ai passé l'œil ouvert et mouillé bien des nuits !

Depuis j’ai vu mourir à quinze ans père et mère !

Tout le miel a tari, reste l'absinthe amère !

Poem by Coriolan Ardouin

(anthologized in Berrou 149-150)

Translated Work



Sadness is not a flower of youth.

The breeze flies and sings and caresses leaves,

The Rose has just bloomed and the Swan of love

Glides over the blue waves where the day reflects itself.

All is joy and pleasure in the heart of the young man!

He is filled with the perfumes embalmed by the breeze,

And as on a lake where the beautiful swan that flees

Leaves barely a furrow destroyed by waves,

He glides on life and swims on the surface

This ocean life that roars and gathers,

That counts a thousand pitfalls and has no port

Where the foaming wave, on a calm day, falls asleep.


Oh! if my heart is full of tears, of bitterness,

Like a wave of sand or a sky of mist,

It is because I've known only sorrow and pain,

It is that as a child I drank only milk mixed with tears,

It is that the fatal day my mother first smiled at me,

In the next room we covered with a shroud

My brother's coffin! Oh ! I have now seen much more!

I have spent many nights with my wet eyes open!

At fifteen, I saw both father and mother die!

All the honey has dried, bitter absinthe* remains!

Translation by Miriam Patterson, 2022

*Note: Absinthe is a bitter liquor made from botanicals including wormwood, anise, and fennel. It is so bitter (and so alcoholic), that nineteenth-century consumers added sugar and water to make it palatable. It was banned in many countries during the twentieth century. For the story of this vilification see Jesse Hicks, "The Devil in a Little Green Bottle."