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De fleurs (1892) L84

Part of a series or song cycle:

Proses lyriques (L84)

De fleurs

Dans l’ennui si désolément vert
De la serre de douleur,
Les Fleurs enlacent mon cœur
De leurs tiges méchantes.
Ah! quand reviendront autour de ma tête
Les chères mains si tendrement désenlaceuses?
Les grands Iris violets
Violèrent méchamment tes yeux,
En semblant les refléter,
Eux, qui furent l’eau du songe
Où plongèrent mes rêves si doucement
Enclos en leur couleur;
Et les lys, blancs jets d’eau de pistils embaumés,
Ont perdu leur grâce blanche
Et ne sont plus que pauvres malades sans soleil!
Soleil! ami des fleurs mauvaises,
Tueur de rêves! Tueur d’illusions,
Ce pain béni des âmes misérables!
Venez! Venez! Les mains salvatrices!
Brisez les vitres de mensonge,
Brisez les vitres de maléfice,
Mon âme meurt de trop de soleil!
Mirages! Plus ne refleurira la joie de mes yeux,
Et mes mains sont lasses de prier,
Mes yeux sont las de pleurer!
Éternellement ce bruit fou
Des pétales noirs de l’ennui,
Tombant goutte à goutte sur ma tête
Dans le vert de la serre de douleur!

Of flowers

In the tedium so desolately green
Of sorrow’s hothouse,
The Flowers entwine my heart
With their wicked stems.
Ah! when shall they return about my head,
Those dear hands, so tenderly disentwining?
The tall violet Irises
Wickedly violated your eyes,
While seeming to reflect them,
They, who were the dream-water
Into which my dreams plunged, so softly
Enclosed in their colour;
And the lilies, white pistil-scented fountains,
Have lost their white grace
And are but poor, sickly, sunless things!
Sun! friend of evil flowers,
Destroyer of dreams, destroyer of illusions,
This blessed wafer of wretched souls!
Come! Come! Redeeming hands!
Shatter the panes of mendacity,
Shatter the panes of evil,
My soul is dying of too much sun!
Mirages! The joy of my eyes will never reflower,
And my hands are weary of praying,
My eyes are weary of weeping!
Eternally this insane sound
Of tedium’s black petals
Falling drop by drop on my head
In the green of sorrow’s hothouse!
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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