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Caprice  (1880) L5


Quand je baise, pâle de fièvre,
Ta lèvre où court une chanson,
Tu détournes les yeux, ta lèvre
Reste froide comme un glaçon,
Et, me repoussant de tes bras,
Tu dis que je ne t’aime pas.
Mais si je dis: Ce long martyre
M’a brisé, je romps mon lien!
Tu réponds avec un sourire:
Viens à mes pieds! tu le sais bien,
Ma chère âme, que c’est ton sort
De m’adorer jusqu’à la mort.


When, pale with fever, I kiss your lips
From which a song sounds forth,
You avert your eyes, your lips
Remain as cold as icicles,
And, thrusting me from your arms,
You say that I do not love you.
But if I say: this long martyrdom
Has broken me, I end our affair!
You reply with a smile:
Kneel at my feet! You know full well,
Dear soul, that it is your destiny
To adore me until you die.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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(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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