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De soir (1892) L84

Part of a series or song cycle:

Proses lyriques (L84)

De soir

Dimanche sur les villes,
Dimanche dans les cœurs!
Dimanche chez les petites filles
Chantant d’une voix informée
Des rondes obstinées,
Où de bonnes Tours
N’en ont plus que pour quelques jours!
Dimanche, les gares sont folles!
Tout le monde appareille
Pour des banlieues d’aventure
En se disant adieu
Avec des gestes éperdus!
Dimanche les trains vont vite,
Dévorés par d’insatiables tunnels;
Et les bons signaux des routes
Échangent d’un œil unique
Des impressions toutes mécaniques.
Dimanche, dans le bleu de mes rêves
Où mes pensées tristes
De feux d’artifices manqués
Ne veulent plus quitter
Le deuil de vieux Dimanches trépassés.
Et la nuit à pas de velours
Vient endormir le beau ciel fatigué,
Et c’est Dimanche dans les avenues d’étoiles;
La Vierge or sur argent
Laisse tomber les fleurs de sommeil!
Vite, les petits anges,
Dépassez les hirondelles
Afin de vous coucher
Forts d’absolution!
Prenez pitié des villes,
Prenez pitié des cœurs,
Vous, la Vierge or sur argent!

Of evening

Sunday over the cities,
Sunday in people’s hearts!
Sunday for the little girls
Singing with childish voices
Persistent rounds
In which good Towers
Have only a few days left!
On Sunday, the stations are frantic!
Everyone sets out
For suburb adventures,
Saying farewell
With frenzied gestures!
On Sunday, trains go fast,
Devoured by insatiable tunnels;
And the good signals
Exchange with their single eye
Wholly mechanical impressions.
Sunday, in the blue of my dreams,
When my thoughts,
Saddened by fizzled fireworks,
Will no longer cease
Mourning for old Sundays dead and gone.
And night with velvet tread
Comes to lull the lovely tired sky to sleep,
And it is Sunday on the avenues of stars;
The gold-on-silver Virgin
Lets fall the flowers of sleep!
Quick! you tiny angels,
Outstrip the swallows,
That you may go to rest
Fortified by absolution!
Take pity on the cities,
Take pity on the hearts,
You gold-on-silver Virgin!
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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