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Venise (1849)


Dans Venise la rouge,
Pas un bâteau qui bouge,
Pas un pêcheur dans l’eau,
Pas un falot!
La lune qui s’efface
Couvre son front, qui passe,
D’un nuage étoilé,
Tout se tait, fors les gardes
Aux longues hallebardes,
Qui veillent aux créneaux
Des arsenaux.
Ah! maintenant plus d’une
Attend, au clair de lune
Quelque jeune muguet,
L’oreille au guet.
Sous la brise amoureuse
La Vanina rêveuse,
Dans son berceau flottant,
Passe en chantant.
Tandis que pour la fête,
Narcissa qui s’apprête,
Met devant son miroir
Le masque noir.
Laissons la vieille horloge,
Au palais du vieux doge,
Lui conter de ses nuits
Les longs ennuis.
Sur sa mer nonchalante
Venise l’indolente
Ne compte ni ses jours
Ni ses amours.
Car Venise est si belle
Qu’une chaîne sur elle
Semble un collier jeté
Sur la beauté.


In Venice the red,
Not a boat that stirs,
Not a fisherman afloat,
Not a lantern.
The waning moon
Hides its fading face
With a startlit cloud,
All is silent, save the guards
With long halberds,
Keeping watch on the battlements
Of the Arsenal.
Ah! More than one girl
Now waits in the moonlight
For some young gallant,
Keenly listening.
Beneath the amorous breeze,
Dreamy Vanina,
Cradled in her gondola
Glides singing by.
While for the carnival
Narcissus puts on
Before his mirror
The black mask.
Let us leave the old clock
In the old Doge's Palace
To count
The tedium of long nights.
On her nonchalant sea,
Indolent venice
Counts neither her days
Nor her loves.
For Venice is so fair
That a chain on her
Seems like a necklace, thrown round
Beauty itself.
Translation © Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Charles-François Gounod was a French composer, best known for his Ave Maria, based on a work by Bach, as well as his opera Faust.

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