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Au cimetière (1872)

Au cimetière

Assis sur cette blanche tombe
Ouvrons notre cœur!
Du marbre, sous la nuit qui tombe,
Le charme est vainqueur.
Au murmure de nos paroles,
Le mort vibrera;
Nous effeuillerons des corolles
Sur son Sahara.
S’il eut, avant sa dernière heure,
L’amour de quelqu’un,
Il croira, du passé qu’il pleure,
Sentir le parfum.
S’il vécut, sans avoir envie
D’un cœur pour le sien,
Il dira: J’ai perdu ma vie,
N’ayant aimé rien.
Toi, tu feras sonner, ma belle,
Tes ornements d’or,
Pour que mon désir ouvre l’aile
Quand l’oiseau s’endort.
Et sans nous tourmenter des choses
Pour mourir après,
Nous dirons: Aujourd’hui les roses,
Demain les cyprès!

At the cemetery

Seated on this white tomb
Let us pour out our hearts!
As night falls,
This marble’s spell conquers all.
As we whisper to each other,
The deceased shall quiver;
We shall pick the corollas
From his Sahara.
If, before his final hour,
He was loved by someone,
He’ll think he smells the fragrance
Of the past he mourns.
If he lived without wishing
To share his heart with another,
He will say: I have wasted my life,
Without having loved at all.
You, my pretty one, shall jingle
Your jewellery of gold,
So that desire takes wing
When birds fall asleep.
And without fretting—
Only to die in the end—
We shall say: Roses today,
And cypresses tomorrow!

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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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