Verse > Anthologies > Samuel Waddington, ed. > The Sonnets of Europe
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Samuel Waddington, comp.  The Sonnets of Europe.  1888.
 
The Shadow
By Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907)
 
Translated by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

WE walk: our shadow follows in the rear,
Mimics our motions, treads where’er we tread,
Looks without seeing, listens without an ear,
Crawls while we walk with proud uplifted head.
 
Like to his shadow, man himself down here,        5
A little living darkness, a frail shred
Of form, sees, speaks, but with no knowledge clear,
Saying to Fate, “By thee my feet are led.”
 
Man shadows but a lower angel who,
Fallen from high, is but a shadow too;        10
So man himself an image is of God.
 
And, maybe, in some place by us untrod,
Near deepest depths of nothingness or ill,
Some wraith of human wraiths grows darker still.
 
 
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