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Les Djinns (1875) Op.12

Les Djinns

Murs, ville
Et port,
Asile
De mort,
Mer grise
Où brise
La brise
Tout dort.
Dans la plaine
Naît un bruit.
C'est l'haleine
De la nuit.
Elle brame
Comme une âme
Qu'une flamme
Toujours suit.
La voix plus haute
Semble un grelot.
D'un nain qui saute
C'est le galop.
Il fuit, s'élance,
Puis en cadence
Sur un pied danse
Au bout d'un flot.
La rumeur approche,
L'écho la redit.
C'est comme la cloche
D'un couvent maudit,
Comme un bruit de foule
Qui tonne et qui roule
Et tantôt s'écroule
Et tantôt grandit.
Dieu! la voix sépulcrale
Des Djinns!... - Quel bruit ils font!
Fuyons sous la spirale
De l'escalier profond!
Déjà s'éteint ma lampe,
Et l'ombre de la rampe..
Qui le long du mur rampe,
Monte jusqu'au plafond.
C'est l'essaim des Djinns qui passe,
Et tourbillonne en sifflant.
Les ifs, que leur vol fracasse,
Craquent comme un pin brûlant.
Leur troupeau lourd et rapide,
Volant dans l'espace vide,
Semble un nuage livide
Qui porte un éclair au flanc.
Ils sont tout près! - Tenons fermée
Cette salle ou nous les narguons
Quel bruit dehors! Hideuse armée
De vampires et de dragons!
La poutre du toit descellée
Ploie ainsi qu'une herbe mouillée,
Et la vieille porte rouillée,
Tremble, à déraciner ses gonds.
Cris de l'enfer! voix qui hurle et qui pleure!
L'horrible essaim, poussé par l'aquillon,
Sans doute, o ciel! s'abat sur ma demeure.
Le mur fléchit sous le noir bataillon.
La maison crie et chancelle penchée,
Et l'on dirait que, du sol arrachée,
Ainsi qu'il chasse une feuille séchée,
Le vent la roule avec leur tourbillon!
Prophète! Si ta main me sauve
De ces impurs démons des soirs,
J'irai prosterner mon front chauve
Devant tes sacrés encensoirs!
Fais que sur ces portes fidèles
Meure leur souffle d'étincelles,
Et qu'en vain l'ongle de leurs ailes
Grince et crie à ces vitraux noirs!
Ils sont passés! - Leur cohorte
S'envole et fuit, et leurs pieds
Cessent de battre ma porte
De leurs coups multipliés.
L'air est plein d'un bruit de chaînes,
Et dans les forêts prochaines
Frissonnent tous les grands chênes,
Sous leur vol de feu pliés!
De leurs ailes lointaines
Le battement décroît.
Si confus dans les plaines,
Si faible, que l'on croit
Ouïr la sauterelle
Crier d'une voix grêle
Ou pétiller la grêle
Sur le plomb d'un vieux toit.
D'étranges syllabes
Nous viennent encore; -
Ainsi, des arabes
Quand sonne le cor,
Un chant sur la grève
Par instants s'élève,
Et l'enfant qui rêve
Fait des rêves d'or.
Les Djinns funèbres,
Fils du trépas,
Dans les ténèbres
Pressent leur pas;
Leur essaim gronde;
Ainsi, profonde,
Murmure une onde
Qu'on ne voit pas.
Ce bruit vague
Qui s'endort,
C'est la vague
Sur le bord;
C'est la plainte
Presque éteinte
D'une sainte
Pour un mort.
On doute
La nuit...
J'écoute: -
Tout fuit,
Tout passe;
L'espace
Efface
Le bruit.

The Jinn

Walls, town
And port,
Refuge
From death,
Grey sea
Where the wind
Breaks,
All sleep.
In the plain
A sound is born.
It is the breathing
Of the night.
It roars
Like a soul
That a flame
Pursues.
The higher voice
Seems a shiver.
It is the gallop
Of a leaping dwarf.
He flees, he springs,
Then dances rhythmically
On one foot
At the end of a billow.
The murmur draws near,
The echo repeats it,
It’s like the bell
Of a cursed convent,
Like the noise of a crowd
That thunders and rolls
And sometimes crumbles
And sometimes swells.
God! The sepulchral voices
Of the Jinn! The noise they make!
We flee down the long
Spiral staircase!
My lamp has already died,
And the shadow of the ramp,
Which crawls along the wall,
Ascends to the ceiling.
It’s the swarming Jinn passing by,
Whirling and hissing,
Yew trees, stirred by their flight,
Crackle like burning pine.
Their herd, heavy and swift,
Flying in the void,
Seems like a livid cloud,
Ringed with lightning.
They are so near! – Let us keep closed
This room where we flout them.
What a din outside! Hideous army
Of vampires and dragons!
The beam of the crumbling ceiling
Sags like drenched grass,
And the old rusted door
Trembles, as though its hinges would snap.
Cries from hell! A voice that roars and weeps!
The horrible swarm, driven by the north wind,
Must now, O heavens, be assailing my home!
The walls sag beneath the black battalion.
The house cries out, staggers and lists,
As though, ripped from the soil,
The wind were rolling and swirling it along,
Chasing a desiccated leaf.
Prophet, if your hand saves me
From these impure demons of the night,
I would prostrate my bald pate
Before your sacred incense burners!
Make their breath of sparks
Die on these faithful doors,
And make the talons of their wings
Scrape and screech in vain at these black windows!
They have passed! – Their cohort
Takes flight and flees, and their feet
Cease beating at my door
With their multiple blows.
The air is filled with a sound of chains,
And in the nearby forests
All the great oaks quiver,
Bent beneath their fiery flight!
The beating of their wings
Fades into the distance,
So indistinct in the plains,
So faint, that you believe
You hear the grasshopper
Cry with a shrill voice
Or the hail crackling
On the lead of an old roof.
Strange syllables
Keep approaching us,
And when the horn sounds,
It’s like the chant
Of Arabs on the shore
Rising up at moments,
And the dreaming child
Dreaming of gold.
The funereal Jinn,
Threads of death
In the dark
Accelerate their approach;
Their swarm snarls;
Like the rumbling
Of a deep wave
One does not see.
This vague sound
That falls asleep,
It is the wave
On the rim;
It is the moan,
Almost extinct,
Of a saint
For a death.
One doubts
The night . . .
I listen: -
All flees,
All fades;
Space
Erases
Sound.
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Composer

 

​"Gabriel Urbain Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style." (Wikipedia)

For more information about the life and work of Gabriel Fauré please see the Wikipedia article here.


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Poet

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.

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


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