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La vague et la cloche (1871)

La vague et la cloche

Une fois, terrassé par un puissant breuvage,
J’ai rêvé que parmi les vagues et le bruit
De la mer, je voguais sans fanal dans la nuit,
Morne rameur, n’ayant plus l’espoir du rivage...
L’Océan me crachait ses baves sur le front,
Et le vent me glaçait d’horreur jusqu’aux entrailles,
Les vagues s’écroulaient ainsi que des murailles
Avec ce rythme lent qu’un silence interrompt...
Puis tout changea... la mer et sa noire mêlée
Sombrèrent … sous mes pieds s’effondra le plancher
De la barque...Et j’étais seul dans un vieux clocher,
Chevauchant avec rage une cloche ébranlée.
J’étreignais la criarde opiniâtrement,
Convulsif et fermant dans l’effort mes paupières.
Le grondement faisait trembler les vieilles pierres,
Tant j’activais sans fin le lourd balancement.
Pourquoi n’as-tu pas dit, ô rêve, où Dieu nous mène?
Pourquoi n’as-tu pas dit s’ils ne finiraient pas,
L’inutile travail et l’éternel fracas
Dont est faite la vie, hélas! la vie humaine!

The wave and the bell

Once, laid low by a potent draught,
I dreamed that amid the waves and the roar
Of the sea I drifted without beacon at night,
A bleak oarsman, with no hope of reaching land...
The ocean spat its foam on my brow,
And the wind froze me through with horror,
The waves crashed down like walls aboout me,
With that slow rhythm a silence severs...
Then everything changed. The sea and its black tumult
Subsided. Beneath my feet the floor of the boat
Gave way... And I was alone in an old bell-tower,
Furiously riding a swaying bell.
I doggedly clasped the clamorous metal,
Convulsed, and closing my eyes with the effort.
The booming made the old stones tremble,
So constantly I quickened the heavy swing.
Why did you not say, O dream, where God leads us?
Why did you not say if they will ever end,
The fruitless toil and the endless strife
Of which human life, alas, is made?

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Composer

Eugène Marie Henri Fouques Duparc (21 January 1848 – 12 February 1933) was a French composer of the late Romantic period.

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Poet

François Edouard Joachim Coppée was a French poet and novelist.


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