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Violons dans le soir (1907)

Violons dans le soir

Quand le soir est venu, que tout est calme enfin
Dans la chaude nature,
Voici que naît sous l'arbre et sous le ciel divin
La plus vive torture.
Sur les graviers d'argent, dans les bois apaisés,
Des violons s'exaltent.
Ce sont des jets de cris, de sanglots, de baisers,
Sans contrainte et sans halte.
Il semble que l'archet se cabre, qu'il se tord
Sur les luisantes cordes,
Tant ce sont des appels de plaisir et de mort
Et de miséricorde.
Et le brûlant archet enroulé de langueur
Gémit, souffre, caresse,
Poignard voluptueux qui pénètre le coeur
D'une épuisante ivresse.
Archets, soyez maudits pour vos brûlants accords,
Pour votre âme explosive,
Fers rouges qui dans l'ombre arrachez à nos corps
Des lambeaux de chair vive!

Violins in the evening

When evening has fallen and all’s at last quiet
In warm nature,
There stirs beneath tree and heavenly sky
The most painful agony.
On silver gravel, in hushed woods,
Frenetic violins are heard:
A stream of cries, of sobs and kisses,
Unrestrained and unremitting.
The violin bow seems to rear and writhe
Across the shining strings—
For these are true cries of pleasure, death
And mercy.
And the buming bow in its affliction,
Groans, suffers and caresses—
A voluptuous dagger that pierces the heart
With exhausted ecstasy.
May you bows be cursed for your scalding chords,
For your explosive soul:
Molten swords that at night rip from our bodies
Shreds of living flesh!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was a French composer, organist, conductor, and pianist of the Romantic era. A musical prodigy, he gave his first concert at only 10 years old, before studying at the Paris Conservatoire.

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