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De grève (1892) L84

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Proses lyriques (L84)

De grève

Sur la mer les crépuscules tombent,
Soie blanche effilée!
Les vagues comme de petites folles,
Jasent, petites filles sortant de l’école,
Parmi les froufrous de leur robe,
Soie verte irisée!
Les nuages, graves voyageurs,
Se concertent sur le prochain orage,
Et, c’est un fond vraiment trop grave
À cette anglaise aquarelle.
Les vagues, les petites vagues,
Ne savent plus où se mettre,
Car voici la méchante averse,
Froufrous de jupes envolées,
Soie verte affolée!
Mais la lune, compatissante à tous,
Vient apaiser ce gris conflit,
Et caresse lentement ses petites amies,
Qui s’offrent, comme lèvres aimantes
À ce tiède et blanc baiser.
Puis, plus rien!
Plus que les cloches attardées
Des flottantes églises!
Angélus des vagues,
Soie blanche apaisée!

Of the shore

Dusk falls over the sea,
Like frayed white silk!
The waves like wild little things
Chatter, little girls coming out of school,
Amid their rustling frocks
Of iridescent green silk!
The clouds, grave travellers,
Consult over the coming storm,
A background truly too solemn
For this English watercolour.
The waves, the little waves,
No longer know which way to turn,
For here comes the malicious downpour,
The rustling of flying shirts,
The panic of green silk!
But the moon, with pity for all,
Comes to calm this grey conflict,
And slowly caresses his lady friends,
Who offer themselves like loving lips
To this warm, white kiss.
Then, nothing more!
Only the belated bells
Of floating churches!
Angelus of the waves,
Smoothed white silk!
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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