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Fantoches (1891) L80

Part of a series or song cycle:

Fêtes galantes I (L80)


Scaramouche et Pulcinella
Qu’un mauvais dessein rassembla
Gesticulent, noirs sous la lune.
Cependant l’excellent docteur
Bolonais cueille avec lenteur
Des simples parmi l’herbe brune.
Lors sa fille, piquant minois,
Sous la charmille, en tapinois,
Se glisse, demi-nue, en quête
De son beau pirate espagnol,
Dont un amoureux rossignol
Clame la détresse à tue-tête.


Scaramouche and Pulcinella
Drawn together by some evil scheme,
Gesticulate, black beneath the moon.
Meanwhile the excellent doctor
From Bologna is leisurely picking
Medicinal herbs in the brown grass.
Then his daughter, pertly pretty,
Beneath the arbour, stealthily,
Glides, half-naked, in quest
Of her handsome Spanish pirate,
Whose grief a lovelorn nightingale
Proclaims as loudly as he can.
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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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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