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Un cygne (1951) Op. 27 no.2

Part of a series or song cycle:

Mélodies passagères (Op. 27)

Un cygne

Un cygne avance sur l’eau
tout entouré de lui-même,
comme un glissant tableau;
ainsi à certains instants
un être que l’on aime
est tout un espace mouvant.
Il se rapproche, doublé,
comme ce cygne qui nage,
sur notre âme troublé …
qui à cet être ajoute
la tremblante image
de bonheur et de doute.

A swan

A swan moves over the water
ringed all around by itself,
like a painting that glides;
thus, at certain moments,
a being that one loves
is a whole moving space.
It draws near, bent double,
like the drifting swan,
over our troubled soul …
adding to that being
the trembling image
of happiness and doubt.
Translation © Richard Stokes author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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René Karl Wilhelm Johann Josef Maria Rilke (4 December 1875 – 29 December 1926), better known as Rainer Maria Rilke, was a Bohemian-Austrian poet and novelist. He is "widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German-language poets".He wrote both verse and highly lyrical prose. Several critics have described Rilke's work as inherently "mystical". His writings include one novel, several collections of poetry and several volumes of correspondence in which he invokes haunting images that focus on the difficulty of communion with the ineffable in an age of disbelief, solitude and profound anxiety. These deeply existential themes tend to position him as a transitional figure between the traditional and the modernist writers.

Taken from Wikipedia. Read more here.

Read some of Rilke's work here, on Poetry Foundation.

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