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Pantomime (1882) L31

Pantomime

Pierrot, qui n’a rien d’un Clitandre,
Vide un flacon sans plus attendre,
Et, pratique, entame un pâté.
Cassandre, au fond de l’avenue,
Verse une larme méconnue
Sur son neveu déshérité.
Ce faquin d’Arlequin combine
L’enlèvement de Colombine
Et pirouette quatre fois.
Colombine rêve, surprise
De sentir un coeur dans la brise
Et d’entendre en son coeur des voix.

Pantomime

Pierrot, who is no Clitandre,
Gulps down a bottle without delay
And, being practical, starts on a pie.
Cassandre, at the end of the avenue,
Sheds an unnoticed tear
For his disinherited nephew.
That rogue of a Harlequin schemes
How to abduct Colombine
And pirouettes four times.
Colombine dreams, amazed
To sense a heart in the breeze
And hear voices in her heart.
Translations by Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Composer

(Achille) Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Poet

Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.
Born in Metz, Verlaine was educated at the Lycée Impérial Bonaparte (now the Lycée Condorcet) in Paris and then took up a post in the civil service. He began writing poetry at an early age, and was initially influenced by the Parnassien movement and its leader, Leconte de Lisle. Verlaine's first published poem was published in 1863 in La Revue du progrès, a publication founded by poet Louis-Xavier de Ricard. Verlaine was a frequenter of the salon of the Marquise de Ricard (Louis-Xavier de Ricard's mother) at 10 Boulevard des Batignolles and other social venues, where he rubbed shoulders with prominent artistic figures of the day: Anatole France, Emmanuel Chabrier, inventor-poet and humorist Charles Cros, the cynical anti-bourgeois idealist Villiers de l'Isle-Adam, Théodore de Banville, François Coppée, Jose-Maria de Heredia, Leconte de Lisle, Catulle Mendes and others. Verlaine's first published collection, Poèmes saturniens (1866), though adversely commented upon by Sainte-Beuve, established him as a poet of promise and originality.

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