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Connaissez-vous la blanche tombe
Où flotte avec un son plaintif
L’ombre d’un if?
Sur l’if, une pâle colombe,
Triste et seule, au soleil couchant,
Chante son chant;
Un air maladivement tendre,
A la fois charmant et fatal,
Qui vous fait mal
Et qu’on voudrait toujours entendre,
Un air, comme en soupire aux cieux
L’ange amoureux.


Do you know the white tomb,
Where the shadow of a yew
Waves plaintively?
On that yew a pale dove,
Sad and solitary at sundown
Sings its song;
A melody of morbid sweetness,
Delightful and deathly at once,
Which wounds you
And which you’d like to hear forever,
A melody, such as in the heavens
A lovesick angel sighs
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Prince Edmond Melchior Jean Marie de Polignac was a French aristocrat and composer. His grandmother had been a close friend of Marie Antoinette.

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Pierre Jules Théophile Gautier was a French poet, dramatist, novelist, journalist, and art and literary critic.

While Gautier was an ardent defender of Romanticism, his work is difficult to classify and remains a point of reference for many subsequent literary traditions such as Parnassianism, Symbolism, Decadence and Modernism. He was widely esteemed by writers as diverse as Balzac, Baudelaire, the Goncourt brothers, Flaubert, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Henry James, Proust and Oscar Wilde.

Taken from Wikipedia. To view the full article, please click here.

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