20 March 2009

Mimi - Heinrich Heine`

"I'm no proper bourgeois-kitten,
Cozy rooms I won't be needing,
On the roof, in open air,
It's a free cat's life I'm leading.

Summer nights, I'm rhapsodizing,
Up upon the rooftops stealing,
Music purrs and grrrs within me,
And I sing just what I'm feeling."

So she speaks. And from her bosom
Bridal songs are wildly surging,
Charming melodies that bring
Tomcat bachelors converging.

Tomcat bachelors converging,
Purring, grrring, snarling, mewing,
Here with Mimi to make music,
Love and drooling, ardent wooing.

These are not your virtuosos,
Who for fame do vainly jostle,
How profane! But these remain
Holy music's true apostles.

Instruments they don't require,
They themselves are flutes, violas,
Bellies are their kettledrums,
And for trumpets they have noses.

Voices now they raise in concert,
Mighty chorus, or duets; O
Those are fugues, like those of Bach
Or of Guido of Arezzo.

These are symphonies, audacious
Like caprices of Beethoven,
Even those of Berlioz,
Now surpassed in cat-commotion.

Magic tones of mystic power!
Rare, unequalled serenading!
They give Heaven shocks, convulsions,
And the stars themselves are fading.

When she hears the magic timbres,
The majestic cantilena,
So she veils her face with clouds,
Goddess of the moon, Selene.

Just that scandal-monger, aging
Primadonna Philomela,
Turns her nose up, sniffs, abuses
Mimi's singing - cold unfeeler!

All the same! They're making music,
Despite the envious Signora,
'Til appears on the horizon
Rosy smiling sprite, Aurora.

Heinrich Heine (1797-1856)

I must thank my dear fellow blogger Sean Jeating for sending this poem to me.


James Higham said...

Oh yes - Heine. Converted to Christianity - good man.

jams o donnell said...

Ah I didn't know that

Kay Dennison said...

Exclellent verse!!! It would fit well with T.S. Eliot's cat poems,

jams o donnell said...

THanks Kay. Glad you like it

Claude said...

A great Romantic. Wonderfully translated in French. Read MIMI in my youth. Good to see it also well done in English. He cried on his country with sublime tears. On his deathbed, we're told he said,"Of course, God will forgive me; that's his job." " √Čvidemment, Dieu va me pardonner; c'est son travail." I don't know it in German!

Sorry, jams, for my many words. Your post revived long ago, good memories. Thank you!

jams o donnell said...

I'm so glad it brought back happy memories Claudia

Anonymous said...

Now of coarse(sic!) there is ANOTHER poem by Heinrich Heine (in German) which reads very innocently, almost bland.

Until you realise that if you only read every other line, it is absolutely pornographic!

Great sense of humour with the then censorship, that man ;-)

jams o donnell said...

Haha Stu I didn't know that. What a way to beat the censor

Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm the translator. If your readers like the translation, they should read my other Heine poems at http://davidsbuendler.freehostia.com/hh.htm

jams o donnell said...

Wow what a superb site. Thanks for the link!

The translator said...

Hi, it's the translator again. I've published the Heine translations. They are available here: