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Je tremble en voyant ton visage (1904)

Part of a series or song cycle:

Le promenoir des deux amants

Je tremble en voyant ton visage

Je tremble en voyant ton visage
Flotter avecque mes désirs,
Tant j’ai de peur que mes soupirs
Ne lui fassent faire naufrage.
De crainte de cette aventure
Ne commets pas si librement
À cet infidèle élément
Tous les trésors de la Nature.
Veux-tu, par un doux privilège,
Me mettre au-dessus des humains?
Fais-moi boire au creux de tes mains,
Si l’eau n’en dissout point la neige.

I tremble when I see your face

I tremble when I see your face
Floating with my desires,
So frightened am I that my sighs
Might cause your face to drown.
For fear of this misfortune,
Do not endow too freely
That untrustworthy element
With all of Nature’s treasures.
Will you, as a sweet privilege,
Raise me above human kind?
Let me drink from your cupped hands,
If the water melt not their snow.
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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