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Ma première lettre (1893)

Ma première lettre

Hélas! que nous oublions vite ...
J'y songeais hier en trouvant
Une petite lettre écrite
Lorsque je n'étais qu'une enfant.
Je lus jusqu'à la signature
Sans ressentir le moindre émoi,
Sans reconnaître l'écriture,
Et sans voir qu'elle était de moi.
En vain je voulus la relire,
Me rappeler, faire un effort . . .
J'ai pu penser cela, l'écrire,
Mais le souvenir en est mort!
Ô la pauvre naïve lettre,
Ecrite encor si gauchement . . .
Mais j'y songe, c'était peut-être
Ma première, un événement!
Jadis à ma mère ravie
Je l'ai montrée en triomphant.
Est-il possible qu'on oublie
Sa première lettre d'enfant!
Et puis le temps vient où l'on aime,
Et l'on écrit . . . et puis un jour,
Un jour on l'oubliera de même,
Sa première lettre d'amour!

My first letter

Alas! How quickly we forget . . .
That struck me yesterday, finding
A short letter written
When I was just a little girl.
I read as far as the signature
Without feeling the slightest commotion,
Without recognizing the hand
And without seeing that I had penned it.
In vain I tried to re-read it,
To remember, to rack my brains . . .
I had been able to think and write those thoughts,
But the memory of them had died!
Oh the poor, naïve letter,
So clumsily written . . .
Yet, when I think of it, it was perhaps
My first, an important event!
Years ago I showed it triumphantly
To my delighted mother.
Can it be one forgets
The first letter one wrote as a child!
And then you fall in love
And you write . . . and then one day,
One day you will forget that too,
Your first love letter!
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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French composer and pianist. Read more here.

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