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L'archet (1883) L46

L'archet

Elle avait de beaux cheveux, blonds
Comme une moisson d’août, si longs
Qu’ils lui tombaient jusqu’aux talons.
Elle avait une voix étrange,
Musicale, de fée ou d’ange,
Des yeux verts sous leur noire frange.
Lui, ne craignait pas de rival,
Quand il traversait mont ou val,
En l’emportant sur son cheval.
Mais l’amour la prit si fort au cœur,
Que pour un sourire moqueur,
Il lui vint un mal de langueur.
Et dans ces dernières caresses:
«Fais un archet avec mes tresses,
Pour charmer tes autres maîtresses.»
Puis, dans un long baiser nerveux,
Elle mourut. Il fit selon ses vœux,
Il fit l’archet de ses cheveux.

The bow

She had lovely hair, blond
Like an autumn harvest, so long
That it cascaded to her heels.
She had a strange voice,
Musical, like a fairy’s or angel’s,
Green eyes beneath their black fringe.
And he, he feared no rival
As he crossed mountain or valley,
Bearing her on his steed.
But love assailed her heart so strongly
That for a mocking smile
She fell ill with languishing.
Then in her final caresses she said:
‘Make a bow with my tresses
To charm your other mistresses.’
Then, in a long and ardent kiss,
She died. He did as she wished,
He made a bow with her tresses.
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

Charles Cros was a French poet and inventor. He is perhaps best known for being the first person to conceive a method for reproducing recorded sound, an invention he named the Paleophone.


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