French Poetry XIX - Paul Verlaine - The Sea-Shells

The Sea-Shells
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)

Each shell, encrusted, we see,
in the cave where we achieved love’s goal,
has its own peculiarity.

One has the purple colour of souls,
ours, thief of the blood our hearts possess
when I burn, and you flame like hot coals.

That one affects your languorousness,
your pallor, your weary form
angered by my mocking eyes’ caress:

this one mimics the charm
of your ear, and in this I see
your rosy neck, so full and warm:

but one, among them all, troubled me.

From Fêtes Galants, 1869