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Songs

Le Tombeau sans nom (1901)


Part of a series or song cycle:

Musique de scène pour les Chansons de Bilitis


Le Tombeau sans nom

Mnasidika m'ayant prise par la main me mena
hors des portes de la ville, jusqu'à un petit
champ inculte où il y avait une stèle de marbre.
Et elle me dit: « Celle-ci fut l'amie de ma mère.
»
Alors je sentis un grand frisson, et sans cesser
de lui tenir la main, je me penchai sur son
épaule, afin de lire les quatre vers entre la
coupe creuse et le serpent:
« Ce n'est pas la mort qui m'a enlevée, mais les
Nymphes des fontaines. Je repose ici sous une
terre légère avec la chevelure coupée de
Xanthô. Qu'elle seule me pleure. Je ne dis pas
mon nom. »
Longtemps nous sommes restées debout, et
nous n'avons pas versé la libation. Car
comment appeler une âme inconnue d'entre les
foules de l'Hadès?

The Tomb Without a Name

Mnasidika having taken me by the hand led me
out of the gates of the city up to a small
uncultivated field where there was a marble
headstone. And she said to me: “She here was
my mother’s lover.”
Then I felt a great chill, and still holding her
hand, I leaned against her shoulder, to read the
four verses between the broken cup and the
serpent:
“It is not death that has carried me away, but
the Nymphs of the fountains. I rest here under
the light earth with the cut hair of Xanthô. Let
her alone cry for me. I do not say my name.”
We stood there for a long time and we did not
pour an offering. Because how can we call an
unknown soul among the masses in Hades?

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Composer

(Achille) Claude Debussy was a French composer. He is sometimes seen as the first Impressionist composer, although he vigorously rejected the term. He was among the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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Poet

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

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