She Never Even Knew It

4 Mar 2018 /

Chapter XXII of George Eliot’s Middlemarch starts with an epigraph from Alfred de Musset:

Nous câusames longtemps; elle était simple et bonne.
Ne sachant pas le mal, elle faisait le bien;
Des richesses du coeur elle me fit l’aumône,
Et tout en écoutant comme le coeur se donne,
Sans oser y penser je lui donnai le mien;
Elle emporta ma vie, et n’en sut jamais rien.

Some editions of Middlemarch provide a translation in a footnote:

We talked for a long time; she was simple and kind.
Knowing no evil, she did only good:
She gave me alms from the riches of her heart,
And listening intently as she poured out her heart,
Scarcely daring to think, I gave her mine;
Thus she carried off my life, and never even knew it.

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