The Touch


The Touch


Renée Vivien

The trees cling to the sunlight in their branches,

Veiled like a woman, evoking times long-gone,

Dusk passes by, weeping… Trembling, my fingers

Trace the line of your thighs.


My clever fingers linger upon the shivering

Flesh beneath your petal-soft gown.

The art of the touch, complex and curious, equals

The trance of fragrance, the miracle of sound.


Slowly I follow the contours of your thighs,

Your shoulders, your neck, your unappeased breasts.

My delicate desire denies itself kisses;

It strokes and swoons in your white voluptuousness.


This my working translation of “The Touch” (i.e. still in draft form), from the French, which is part of my larger project involving the creative works, correspondence, and journals of Renée Vivien (1877-1909), as well as remembrances and other works written about and inspired by Vivien after her death.

© 2013 Melanie E. Gregg

[I had to insert the asterisks here because WP would not let me separate the strophes without them.]

Although my legal copyright is Melanie Gregg, I do prefer “Lemony,” just so you know. 😉

24 responses

  1. Very nice. I’ve read this as the sun sets, peacefully, to my left – a nice combination. Thanks. D

    April 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    • It pleases me so much that you were able to read and enjoy it at sunset. Thanks, Dave.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

  2. Wow! What an undertaking. Good luck with the project!

    April 17, 2013 at 11:27 pm

    • Thank you! It is an enormous project, but one I’m enjoying very much.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:15 pm

  3. (About * asterisks —– You can chose the Black for the coloring of asterisks
    to make it invisible.
    I had the same trouble => Then I learned from other blogger. = in my case,
    I’m coloring the separating mark in white 🙂 )

    April 17, 2013 at 11:57 pm

  4. A terrific pairing.

    April 18, 2013 at 12:27 am

  5. Is there any talent you do not possess?

    April 18, 2013 at 1:30 am

    • You are so very kind, Audrey. 🙂 I am just interested in a lot of things and have the great fortune to be able to pursue my interests.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:17 pm

  6. Oh, my! That has to be a perfect translation. “White voluptuousness” both. Ah, this is wonderful.

    April 18, 2013 at 7:46 am

    • You’re kind to say that, George. I’m so glad you enjoyed it. This is still a work in progress (they always are!!), as I continue to tinker with lines.

      April 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

  7. What a perfectly gorgeous poem…..good luck with the translation project.


    April 18, 2013 at 11:58 am

  8. Intrigued. Who IS Renee Vivien? Apart from a poet of course…beautiful words and image.

    April 19, 2013 at 9:20 am

    • Ohhhh, there would be so much to say in response to that question! I’m pleased that you are interested to know. Briefly, and in the most ordinary terms, Renée Vivien was an early twentieth-century writer who lived the most interesting, and unfortunately tragic life. She died at the age of 32 (of complications related alcoholism and anorexia), but she left behind an amazing body of work. Much of writing is inspired by her relationships with the women in her life. She was anglo-american, but lived in France and only published in French. Some of her works have been translated at various times and are currently being translated now, but there still remains so much to be done. It’s exciting to be a part of that process.

      April 20, 2013 at 9:52 am

      • Sounds fascinating. It’s lucky that with health issues like that she was able to produce so much – and 32, so unbelievably tragic. My mum lives in France and is pretty much bilingual…I’ll ask her if she’s heard of her. Good luck, how inspiring.

        April 21, 2013 at 11:54 am

  9. A delicate and tender translation that is true in spirit to the original is a formidable challenge, and a great reward when it’s successful; I have some considerable experience in this, and though French is not my forté, I can see that you are very talented. It’s lovely, and so is your accompanying photo.

    April 19, 2013 at 10:15 pm

    • Wow, Gary, what a wonderful compliment. That means a lot coming from you! You are right about the challenge that translation poses. It is hard to ever be fully satisfied with a text you’re working on. I’m constantly working and reworking, seeing different options and variations. One of biggest challenges is knowing when to stop!

      April 20, 2013 at 9:58 am

  10. The other side of this talent is the warm satisfaction that comes when an inter-language translation/interpretation meets and at times even surpasses your own expectations and also meets with the full approval and praise of the author of the original. What a joy this is, when it really works!

    April 20, 2013 at 4:16 pm

  11. elmediat

    Superb. :0

    April 20, 2013 at 6:24 pm

  12. Your flower series are a feast for the eyes, Melanie. Stunning work.

    April 23, 2013 at 7:13 pm

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