(9 April 1821 – 31 August 1867 / Paris)

The Albatross

Often to pass the time on board, the crew
will catch an albatross, one of those big birds
which nonchalently chaperone a ship
across the bitter fathoms of the sea.

Tied to the deck, this sovereign of space,
as if embarrassed by its clumsiness,
pitiably lets its great white wings
drag at its sides like a pair of unshipped oars.

How weak and awkward, even comical
this traveller but lately so adoit -
one deckhand sticks a pipestem in its beak,
another mocks the cripple that once flew!

The Poet is like this monarch of the clouds
riding the storm above the marksman's range;
exiled on the ground, hooted and jeered,
he cannot walk because of his great wings.

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Comments (3)

See allusion in novel what's left of the night.
Such a beautiful poem ruined by translation sadly.
This is a not the best translation. There is a better one. I think it's by James Mcgowan. Often, when bored, the sailors of the crew Trap albatross, the great birds of the seas, Mild trave11ers escorting in the blue Ships gliding on the ocean's mysteries. And when the sailors have them on the planks, Hurt and distraught, these kings of a11 outdoors Piteously let trail along their flanks Their great white wings, dragging like useless oars. This voyager, how comical and weak! Once handsome, how unseemly and inept! One sailor pokes a pipe into his beak, Another mocks the flier's hobbled step. The Poet is a kinsman in the clouds Who scoffs at archers, loves a stormy day; But on the ground, among the hooting crowds, He cannot walk, his wings are in the way.