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Épitaphe de Bilitis Op. 39

Part of a series or song cycle:

Chansons de Bilitis (Op. 39)

Épitaphe de Bilitis

Sous les feuilles noires des lauriers,
sous les fleurs amoureuses des roses,
c’est ici que je suis couchée,
moi qui sus tresser le vers au vers,
et faire fleurir le baiser.
Je suis née dans la terre des nymphes ;
j’ai vécu dans l’île des amies ;
je suis morte dans l’île de Kypris.
C’est pourquoi mon nom est illustre
et ma stèle frottée d’huile.
Ne me pleure pas, toi qui t’arrêtes :
on m’a fait de belles funérailles ;
les pleureuses se sont arraché les joues ;
on a couché dans ma tombe mes miroirs et mes colliers.
Et maintenant, sur les pâles prairies d’asphodèles,
je me promène, ombre impalpable,
et le souvenir de ma vie terrestre
est la joie de ma vie souterraine.

Bilitis's epitaph

Beneath the black leaves of the laurel,
Beneath the loving flowers of the roses,
It is here that I lie,
I who knew how to weave lines of poetry,
And cause flowers to bloom.
I was born in the land of nymphs;
I lived in the isle of female friends;
I died on the isle of Cyprus.
That is why my name is illustrious
And my stele rubbed in oil.
Do not weep for me, you who tarry here:
They gave me a beautiful funeral;
The mourners tore at each other’s cheeks;
They placed my mirrors and necklaces in my tomb.
And now, on the pale meadows of asphodel,
I walk, an intangible shade,
And the memory of my terrestrial life
Is the delight of my subterranean life.

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Charles Koechlin was a French composer, teacher and writer on music. He was a political radical all his life and a passionate enthusiast for such diverse things as medieval music, Kipling's The Jungle Book, J.S Bach, film stars (especially Lilian Harvey and Ginger Rogers), travel, stereoscopic photography, and socialism. He once said: "The artist needs an ivory tower, not as an escape from the world, but as a place where he can view the world and be himself. This tower is for the artist like a lighthouse shining out across the world."

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Pierre Louÿs was a French poet and writer, best known for his classical themes and sensual style.

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