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De rêve (1892) L84

Part of a series or song cycle:

Proses lyriques (L84)

De rêve

La nuit a des douceurs de femmes!
Et les vieux arbres, sous la lune d’or, songent
À celle qui vient de passer la tête emperlée,
Maintenant navrée!
À jamais navrée!
Ils n’ont pas su lui faire signe …
Toutes! Elles ont passé:
Les Frêles,
Les Folles,
Semant leur rire au gazon grêle,
Aux brises frôleuses
La caresse charmeuse
Des hanches fleurissantes.
Hélas! de tout ceci, plus rien qu’un blanc frisson.
Les vieux arbres sous la lune d’or pleurent
Leurs belles feuilles d’or!
Nul ne leur dédiera plus la fierté des casques d’or
Maintenant ternis!
À jamais ternis!
Les chevaliers sont morts sur le chemin du Grâal!
La nuit a des douceurs de femmes!
Des mains semblent frôler les âmes,
Mains si folles, si frêles,
Au temps où les épées chantaient pour Elles! …
D’étranges soupirs s’élèvent sous les arbres.
Mon âme! C’est du rêve ancien qui t’étreint!

Of dreams

The night has a woman’s softness!
And the old trees beneath the golden moon dream
Of her who has just gone by, her head bespangled,
Now broken-hearted!
Forever broken-hearted!
They were not able to beckon her …
All! All have gone by:
The Frail,
The Foolish,
Scattering their laughter on the thin grass,
Casting to the glancing breezes
The bewitching caress
Of their burgeoning hips.
Alas! of all this nothing is left but a pale tremor.
The old trees beneath the golden moon tearfully shed
Their lovely golden leaves!
No one will plight them again the pride of golden helmets
Now tarnished!
Forever tarnished!
The Knights have died in their quest for the Grail!
The night has a woman’s softness!
Hands seem to brush the souls,
Hands so foolish, so frail,
In the days when swords sang for them! …
Strange sighs rose from beneath the trees.
My soul, you are gripped by some former dream!
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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