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Néère (1900)

Part of a series or song cycle:

Études latines


II me faut retourner aux anciennes amours:
L’Immortel qui naquit de la Vierge Thébaine,
Et les Jeunes Désirs et leur Mère inhumaine
Me commandent d’aimer toujours.
Blanche comme un beau marbre, avec ses roses joues,
Je brûle pour Néère aux yeux pleins de langueur;
Venus se précipite et consume mon cœur:
Tu ris, ô Néère, et te joues!
Pour appaiser les Dieux et pour finir mes maux,
D’un vin mûri deux ans versez vos coupes pleines;
Et sur l’autel rougi du sang pur des agneaux
Posez l’encens et les verveines.


I must return to the loves of old:
The Immortal One, born of the Theban Virgin,
And youthful Desires and their cruel Mother
Command me to love anew.
White as beautiful marble, with her pink cheeks,
It is Neaera I burn for with her languishing look;
Venus rushes up and consumes my heart:
You laugh, O Neaera, and frolic!
To appease the gods and end my woes,
Fill your goblets with two-year-old wine;
And on the altar, stained with lambs’ pure blood,
Set the incense and verbena.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of 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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Charles Marie René Leconte de Lisle was a French poet of the Parnassian movement. He is traditionally known by his surname only, Leconte de Lisle.


Leconte de Lisle was born on the French overseas island of La Réunion, in the Indian Ocean. He spent his childhood there and later in Brittany. Among his friends in those years was the musician Charles Bénézit. His father, an army surgeon, who brought him up with great severity, sent him to travel in the East Indies with a view to preparing him for a business career. However, after returning from this journey, the young man preferred to complete his education in Rennes, Britanny, specializing in Greek, Italian and history. In 1845 he settled definitively in Paris.

He was involved in the French Revolution of 1848 which ended with the overthrow of the Orleans King Louis-Philppe of France, but took no further part in politics after the Second Republic was declared.

As a writer he is most famous for his three collections of poetry: Poèmes antiques (1852), Poèmes barbares (1862), Poèmes tragiques (1884). He is also known for his translations of Ancient Greek tragedians and poets, such as Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides and Horace.

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