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Coquetterie posthume (1883) L39

Coquetterie posthume

Quand je mourrai, que l’on me mette,
Avant que de clouer mon cercueil,
Un peu de rouge à la pommette,
Un peu de noir au bord de l’œil.
Car je veux, dans ma bière close,
Comme le soir de son aveu,
Rester éternellement rose
Avec du khol sous mon œil bleu.
Posez-moi sans jaune immortelle,
Sans coussin de larmes brodé,
Sur mon oreiller de dentelle
De ma chevelure inondé.
Cet oreiller, dans les nuits folles,
A vu dormir nos fronts unis,
Et sous le drap noir des gondoles
Compté nos baisers infinis.
Entre mes mains de cire pâle,
Que la prière réunit,
Tournez ce chapelet d’opale
Par le pape à Rome bénit.
Je l’égrènerai dans la couche
D’où nul encor ne s’est levé.
Sa bouche en a dit sur ma bouche
Chaque Pater et chaque Ave.
Quand je mourrai, que l’on me mette,
Avant que de clouer mon cercueil,
Un peu de rouge à la pommette
Un peu de noir au bord de l’œil.

Posthumous flirtation

When I die, before my coffin is
nailed shut, let a little rouge
be dabbed on my cheeks,
a touch of black around my eyes.
For in my closed coffin I want to be
as I was when he made me his vows,
to blush with pink for ever more,
with kohl beneath my blue eyes.
Without yellow immortelles,
without a tear-embroidered cushion,
lay me on my lace pillow,
engulfed in my own tresses.
This pillow, on nights of passion,
saw us asleep, brow to brow,
and counted our endless kisses
beneath the gondola’s black sheet.
Between my pale waxen hands
joined in prayer,
rotate this opal rosary,
blessed by the Pope in Rome.
I shall tell the beads on the couch
from which no one has yet risen;
his mouth against my mouth
has said each Pater and each Ave.
When I die, before my coffin is
nailed shut, let a little rouge
be dabbed on my cheeks,
a touch of black around my eyes.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of 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

Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic.

While Gautier was an ardent defender of Romanticism, his work is difficult to classify and remains a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions such as Parnassianism, Symbolism, Decadence and Modernism. He was widely esteemed by writers as diverse as Balzac, Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Flaubert, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Henry James, Proust and Oscar Wilde.

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