Stuart Merril (1863-1915), né dans l'île de Long Island (New York), fils de diplomate, a passé son enfance à Paris. Au terme de ses études, il s'installera définitivement en France en 1890, année de la parution à New York de son recueil "Pastels in Prose" contenant la traduction de treize poèmes de Louis Bertrand, parmi lesquels :
Evening on the water
The black gondola glided by the palaces of marble, like a bravo running to some nocturnal adventure, with stiletto and lantern under his cloak.
A cavalier and a lady were conversing of love :- "The orange-trees so perfumed, and you so indifférent ! Ah, Signora, you are as a statue in a garden !"
-"Is this the kiss of a statue, my Georgio ? Why do you sulk ? You love me, then ?" - "There is not a star in the heavens that does not know it, and thou knowest it not ?"
- "What is that noise ?" - " "Nothing, doubtless the splash of the water up and down a step in the stair-way of the Guidecca."
- "Help ! help !" - "Ah Mother of the Saviour ! somebody drowning !" - " Step aside, he has been confessed," said a monk, who appeared on the terrace.
And the black gondola strained its oars and glided by the palaces of marble, like a bravo returning from some nocturnal adventure, with stiletto and lantern under his cloak.
Padre Pugnaccio, his cranium out of his hood, was ascending the steps in the dome of Saint Peter between two penitents wrapped in mantillas ; bells could be heard quarrelling in the clouds.
One of the penitents - it was the aunt - counted an Ave for each bead of her rosary ; and the other - it was the niece - ogled from out the corner of her eyes a handsome officer of the Pope's guards.
The monk muttered to the old woman : - "Make a donation to my convent." - and the officer slipped a perfumed billet doux into the young girl's hands.
The sinner wiped a few tears from her eyes ; the maiden blushed with pleasure ; the monk was calculating the interest of a thousand piastres at twelve per cent, and the officer was gazing at himself in a hand-mirror and curling the tips of his mustachios.
And the devil, squatting in the capacious sleeve of Padre Pugnaccio, chuck kled like Pulcinello !
(version du "Provincial")
Ax the hour that separates one day from another, when the city sleeps in silence, I awake with a start upon a winter's night, as I heard my name pronounced by my side.
My room was half dark ; the moon, clad in a vaporous robe, like a white fairy, was gazing upon my sleep and smiling at me through the windows.
A nocturnal patrol was passing in the street ; a homeless dog howled in a deserted cross-way, and the cricket sang in my hearth.
Soon the noises grew fainter by degrees. The nocturnal patrol had departed, a door had been opened to the poor abandoned dog, and the cricket, weary of singing, had fallen asleep ; and to me, barely rid of a dream.
Ah, how sweet it is to awaken in the middle of the night, when the moon, that glides mystériously to your couch, awakens you with a melancoly kiss !
They are counting their rosaries or plaiting their hair, the dark Andalusians, indolently swaying with the gait of their mules ; some of the arrieros are singing the canticle of the pilgrims of Saint Jacques, re-echoed by the hundred caverns of the sierra ; others are firing their carbines at the sun.
-"Here", says one of the guides," is the spot where we buried Jose Mateos last week, who was killed by a ball in the nape, during an attack of brigands. The grave has been dug open, and the body is gone."
-" The body is not far," says a muleteer ; " I see it floating, swollen like a water-bag, at the bottom of the ravine."
-" Our Lady of Atocha, watch over us !" cried the dark Andalusians, indolently swaying with the gait of their mules.
- " Whose is the hut on that point of rock ?" asked a hidalgo through the door of his chaise. " Is it the cabin of the wood-cutters who have thrown those gigantic trunks into the foaming gulf of the torrent, or that of the herdsmen who lead their weary goats upon these barren slopes ?"
- " A muleteer answered : " It is the cell of an old hermit who was found dead this autumn on his bed of leaves. A rope was knetted around his neck, and his tongue hung out of his mouth."
- " Our Lady of Atocha, watch over us ! " cried the dark Andalusians, indolently swaying with the gait of their mules.
- " Those three horsemen wrapped in their cloaks, who observed us so slosely as they passed, are not of our band. Who are they ? " asked a monk with dusty beard and robe.
- " If they are not alguazils from Cienfuegoson their rounds," answered a muleteer, they are robbers sent out as scouts by their captain, the infernal Gil Pueblo."
- " Our Lady of Atocha, watch over us ! " cried the dark Andalusiens, indolently swaying with the gait of their mules.
- " Did you hear that carbine-shot among the bushes ?" asked an ink merchant with bare feet. "See ! the smoke is curling in the air."
- " A muleteer answered : " They are our people beating the bushes and burning cartridges to distract the brigands. Senors and Senorinas, courage, and forward with both spurs !"
- " Our Lady of Atocha, watch over us !" cried the dark Andalusians, indolently swaying with the gait of their mules."
And the travellers started on a gallop, in the midst of a cloud of dust flaming under the sun ; the mules défiled between enormous blocks of granite, the torrent roared in seething eddies, the immense forests bent, cracking, and confusedly, from those profound solitudes moved by the wind, arose menacing voices, with sounded nearer, then farther, as though a band of robbers were lurking in the neighborhood.