Émile Nelligan’s Winter Evening : Video of a new English translation of Soir d’Hiver (Comme la neige a neigé!)


New English translation of Émile Nelligan‘s poem Soir d’Hiver ( Winter Evening ) by Loup Kibiloki, interpreted and performed by Gilles-Claude Thériault on video ( you’ll find the text of both the English translation and the original poem in French, below, on this post ) :

I like Émile Nelligan. I always liked him. His poem, “Soir d’hiver” (1903), “Winter Evening”, is so suggestive, so magical, there’s an aura to it. Some people repeat it or quote it like a mantra.

There are certainly other translations of this poem – although I don’t remember reading any before translating the poem – and they’re different, for sure, although they could be similar (hopefully, not the same!), and they could be better than this one, even much better, and they could also be worse, much worse, and lalali lalala.


There’s one thing I’m sure of : I enjoyed translating Nelligan’s poem, especially the passage when Nelligan invokes those “birds of February”. Coincidentally, I heard birds today    (February 6, 2009), just outside from where I live in Haute Matawinie. I didn’t actually see the birds, though.

“Tous les étangs gisent gelés”, “All the ponds are lying frozen”, all the lakes, they “gisent gelés”. “Gisent gelés” is almost like ice crisscrossing the teeth and being processed into sound. Ice as sound. “Frozen” is very good to translate “gelés” (plural), but “lying” is rather soft-sounding compared to “gisent” – but with the same “death” connotation and meaning (for instance, “here lies” = “ci-gît” – although this specific expression, “ci-gît”, doesn’t appear in the original, I just mention it to illustrate my point). Instead of  “lying frozen”, I was tempted to put “frozen, frozen”…

Well, you’ll see how it came out. Here’s the translation I made (the text of the original poem in French appears following the translation) :

Lac Saint-Louis, Saint-Zénon, Haute Matawinie, Québec. Vu du Nord.

Émile Nelligan

Winter Evening

Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!
My window pane is a garden of frost.
Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!
What is the the spasm of living
to the painful grief I have, I have!

All the ponds are lying frozen,
Where is my life? My soul is black
And all her hopes are lying frozen;
Where do I go?  New Norway am I –
Wherefrom blond skies have gone away.

Cry, birds of February,
Cry at the sinister chill of things.
Cry, birds of February,
Cry my tears and cry my roses
At the branches of the juniper, cry.

Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!
My window pane is a garden of frost.
Oh! How the snow’s been snowing!
What is the spasm of living
To all the boredom I have, I have!…

( as translated by Loup Kibiloki ( Jacques Renaud ) )

Original :

Émile Nelligan

Soir d’hiver

Ah! comme la neige a neigé!
Ma vitre est un jardin de givre.
Ah! comme la neige a neigé!
Qu’est-ce que le spasme de vivre
À la douleur que j’ai, que j’ai!

Tous les étangs gisent gelés,
Mon âme est noire: Où vis-je? Où vais-je?
Tous ses espoirs gisent gelés:
Je suis la nouvelle Norvège
D’où les blonds ciels s’en sont allés.

Pleurez, oiseaux de février,
Au sinistre frisson des choses,
Pleurez, oiseaux de février,
Pleurez mes pleurs, pleurez mes roses,
Aux branches du genévrier.

Ah! comme la neige a neigé!
Ma vitre est un jardin de givre.
Ah! comme la neige a neigé!
Qu’est-ce que le spasme de vivre
À tout l’ennui que j’ai, que j’ai!…

( 1903 )

© Copyright 2009 Hamilton-Lucas Sinclair (Loup Kibiloki, Jacques Renaud, Le Scribe) – for article & English translation (click)

Le Vaisseau d’or : A new English translation of Émile Nelligan’s masterpiece.

Winter Evening by Émile Nelligan. A new English translation of Soir d’Hiver (Comme la neige a neigé!)

All café-terrasses are vistas on infinity. Let’s have coffee together.    –    Toutes les terrasses du monde s’ouvrent sur l’infini. On va prendre un café ensemble.

Dans mes cellules d’opale et de lune (Shiva Moon)  –   Shiva Bruisse   –   Shivas’s Gift to a Wolf  –   Trois poèmes à Shiva and one poem to Shiva

Tribute to the White Wolf   –   Hommage au Loup Blanc.  –   Une araignée d’étoiles. Stars, and a spider

Srî Aurobindo, la prison d’Alipore, et son poème « Invitation » : nouvelle traduction française and the original poem in English.

Les lignes tracées par l’or et le sang traversent tous les coeurs     —    Dans son silence de soie brune, le loup-cervier     —      La branche qui parle et le loup-cervier

Beaucoup de poèmes de Jacques Renaud ( Loup Kibiloki )

Loup Kibiloki ( Jacques Renaud )  :    Plusieurs suites poétiques de Loup Kibiloki ( Jacques Renaud )   –   Des histoires, des comptines, des contes.  En prose ou en versets libres.  Parfois bizarres, parfois pas.

Suites poétiques, Loup Kibiloki ( Jacques Renaud )  :   Les Enchantements de Mémoire  – Sentiers d’Étoiles  –  Rasez les Cités  –  Électrodes  –  Vénus et la Mélancolie  –  Le Cycle du Scorpion  –  Le Cycle du Bélier  –  La Nuit des temps  –  La Stupéfiante Mutation de sa Chrysalide

Blogsurfer.us     –     Icerocket

About Loup Kibiloki

Jacques Renaud -- https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacques_Renaud Ou ici, le blog, « Électrodes et Carnet de Notes (Ou déCandification d'un exCandide, Jamais Terminée) » Ou ici, sur le blog : https://electrodes-h-sinclair-502.com/electrodes_anode/ Etc.
This entry was posted in English et français, Poésie, Tous les poèmes, fables, ouvrages de poésies., translation, traduction, Words - Mots and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Émile Nelligan’s Winter Evening : Video of a new English translation of Soir d’Hiver (Comme la neige a neigé!)

  1. Pingback: Trois barques de pêcheurs sur l’armure de la mer | Électrodes – déCandification d'un exCandide (Jamais Terminée)

  2. Pingback: Gurdjieff, Ouspensky, Jung : Do we know how to read? Understand what we write? What we say? | Électrodes

  3. Pingback: Quand un mot finit en “isme”, amputez tout-de-suite, il agonise! | Électrodes

  4. Pingback: Cubic orange or arc-en-gel | Électrodes

  5. Thanks, Chantal. This is not a paid theme, it’s the basic theme at WordPress (“Twenty Ten”). I didn’t modify it. Recently I paid an annual fee (less than 10 CA$ a month), to be allowed to post audio and video files. Have a nice day )


  6. I am extremely impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?

    Anyway keep up the nice quality writing, it’s rare to see a nice blog like this one nowadays.


  7. Pingback: La richesse de la musique d’André Mathieu ressuscitée par Alain Lefèvre | Électrodes

  8. Pingback: La sonate à la lune, juste là .. | Électrodes

  9. Pingback: La Neige n’est pas la mort. Le Jeune Naturaliste. | Électrodes

  10. Pingback: Litterature audio.com | Livres audio gratuits à écouter et télécharger » NELLIGAN, Émile – Winter evening (Poem)

Leave a Reply to Loup Kibiloki Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.