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Rêverie (1890)


Puisqu'ici-bas toute âme
Donne à quelqu'un
Sa musique, sa flamme,
Ou son parfum;
Puisqu'ici toute chose
Donne toujours
Son épine ou sa rose
A ses amours;
Puisque l'air à la branche
Donne l'oiseau;
Que l'aube à la pervenche
Donne un peu d'eau;
Puisque, lorsqu'elle arrive
S'y reposer,
L'onde amère à la rive
Donne un baiser;
Je te donne, à cette heure,
Penché sur toi,
La chose la meilleure
Que j'aie en moi!
Reçois donc ma pensée,
Triste d'ailleurs,
Qui, comme une rosée,
T'arrive en pleurs!
Reçois mes voeux sans nombre,
O mes amours!
Reçois la flamme ou l'ombre
De tous mes jours!
Mes transports pleins d'ivresses,
Pur de soupçons,
Et toutes les caresses
De mes chansons!


Since here on earth each soul
Gives someone
Its music, its ardour,
Or its perfume;
Since here all things
Will always give
Their thorns or roses
To those they love;
Since the breeze gives
To the branch the bird;
And dawn to the periwinkle
Gives of its dew;
Since when they come
To settle there,
The briny waves
Give the shore a kiss;
I give you, at this hour,
Inclining over you,
The finest things
I have in me!
Accept, then, my thoughts,
Sad though they be,
Which like drops of dew
Come to you as tears!
Accept my countless vows,
O my loves!
Accept the flame and the shade
Of all my days!
My frenzied rapture,
Devoid of all distrust,
And all the caresses
Of my songs!
Translation © Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Reynaldo Hahn was a French composer, conductor and music critic. He moved to France at the age of three from Venezuela. 

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Victor Marie Hugo was a French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement. He is considered one of the greatest and best-known French writers. In France, Hugo's literary fame comes first from his poetry and then from his novels and his dramatic achievements. Among many volumes of poetry, Les Contemplations and La Légende des siècles stand particularly high in critical esteem. Outside France, his best-known works are the novels Les Misérables, 1862, and Notre-Dame de Paris, 1831 (known in English as The Hunchback of Notre-Dame). He also produced more than 4,000 drawings, which have since been admired for their beauty, and earned widespread respect as a campaigner for social causes such as the abolition of capital punishment.

Though a committed royalist when he was young, Hugo's views changed as the decades passed, and he became a passionate supporter of republicanism; his work touches upon most of the political and social issues and the artistic trends of his time. He is buried in the Panthéon. His legacy has been honoured in many ways, including his portrait being placed on French franc banknotes.

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