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Colloque sentimental (1904) L104

Part of a series or song cycle:

Fêtes galantes II (L104)

Colloque sentimental

Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.
Leurs yeux sont morts et leur lèvres sont molles,
Et l’on entend à peine leurs paroles.
Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux spectres ont évoqué le passé.
—Te souvient-il de notre extase ancienne?
—Pourquoi voulez-vous donc qu’il m’en souvienne?
—Ton cœur bat-il toujours à mon seul nom?
Toujours vois-tu mon âme en rêve?—Non.
—Ah! Les beaux jours de bonheur indicible
Où nous joignions nos bouches!—C’est possible.
—Qu’il était bleu, le ciel, et grand l’espoir!
—L’espoir a fui, vaincu, vers le ciel noir.
Tels ils marchaient dans les avoines folles,
Et la nuit seule entendit leurs paroles.

Lover's dialogue

In the ancient park, deserted and frozen,
Two shapes have just passed by.
Their eyes are dead and their lips are lifeless,
And their words can hardly be heard.
In the ancient park, deserted and frozen,
Two spectres were recalling the past.
—Do you remember our past rapture?
—What would you have me remember?
—Does your heart still surge at my very name?
Do you still see my soul when you dream?—No.
—Ah, the beautiful days of inexpressible bliss
When our lips met!—It may have been so.
—How blue the sky, how hopes ran high!
—Hope has fled, vanquished, to the black sky.
So they walked on through the wild grasses,
And the night alone heard their words.
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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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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