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Par ce que j'ai souffert (1914)

Part of a series or song cycle:

Clairières dans le ciel

Par ce que j'ai souffert

Par ce que j’ai souffert, ma mésange bénie,
je sais ce qu’a souffert l’autre: car j’étais deux …
Je sais vos longs réveils au milieu de la nuit
et l’angoisse de moi qui vous gonfle le sein.
On dirait par moments qu’une tête chérie,
confiante et pure, ô vous qui êtes la sœur des lins
en fleurs et qui parfois fixez le ciel comme eux,
on dirait qu’une tête inclinée dans la nuit
pèse de tout son poids, à jamais, sur ma vie.

Through what I’ve suffered

Through what I’ve suffered, my blessed blue-tit,
I know what another has suffered: for I was two …
I know of your long vigils at the dead of night
and anguish that swells your breast.
It is as though at times a cherished face,
trusting and pure – O you the sister of flowering flax
who at times, like the flax, stares at the sky –
as though a bowed head at night
were bearing down with all its weight on my life for evermore.
Translation © Richard Stokes author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Marie-Juliette Olga Boulanger was a French composer, and the first female winner of the Prix de Rome composition prize. Her older sister was the noted composer and composition teacher Nadia Boulanger.

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