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Songs

Songs

Les ingénus (1904) L104


Part of a series or song cycle:

Fêtes galantes II (L104)


Les ingénus

Les hauts talons luttaient avec les longues jupes,
En sorte que, selon le terrain et le vent,
Parfois luisaient des bas de jambes, trop souvent
Interceptés!—et nous aimions ce jeu de dupes.
Parfois aussi le dard d’un insecte jaloux
Inquiétait le col des belles sous les branches,
Et c’était des éclairs soudains de nuques blanches,
Et ce régal comblait nos jeunes yeux de fous.
Le soir tombait, un soir équivoque d’automne:
Les belles, se pendant rêveuses à nos bras,
Dirent alors des mots si spécieux, tout bas,
Que notre âme depuis ce temps tremble et s’étonne.

The innocents

High heels struggled with long skirts,
So that, depending on contour and wind,
Glimpses of leg would sometimes gleam, too often
Snatched from view!—and we loved this foolish play.
Sometimes too a jealous insect’s sting
Bothered pretty necks beneath the branches,
And there were sudden flashes of white napes—
And this feast overwhelmed our crazed young eyes.
Evening fell, an equivocal autumn evening:
The pretty girls, leaning dreamily on our arms,
Then murmured such fair-seeming words,
That, ever since, our startled souls have trembled.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Composer

(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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Poet

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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