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Dans la forêt de septembre (1902) Op.85 no.1

Dans la forêt de septembre

Ramure aux rumeurs amollies,
Troncs sonores que l'âge creuse,
L'antique forêt douloureuse
S'accorde à nos mélancolies.
Ô sapins agriffés au gouffre,
Nids déserts aux branches brisées,
Halliers brûlés, fleurs sans rosées,
Vous savez bien comme l'on souffre!
Et lorsque l'homme, passant blême,
Pleure dans le bois solitaire,
Des plaintes d'ombre et de mystère
L'accueillent en pleurant de même.
Bonne forêt! promesse ouverte
De l'exil que la vie implore,
Je viens d'un pas alerte encore
Dans ta profondeur encor verte.
Mais d'un fin bouleau de la sente,
Une feuille, un peu rousse, frôle
Ma tête et tremble à mon épaule;
C'est que la forêt vieillissante,
Sachante l'hiver, où tout avorte,
Déjà proche en moi comme en elle,
Me fait l'aumône fraternelle
De sa première feuille morte!

In the September forest

Foliage of deadened sound,
Resonant trunks hollowed by age,
The ancient, mournful forest
Blends with our melancholy.
O fir-trees, clinging to chasms,
Abandoned nests in broken branches,
Burnt-out thickets, flowers without dew,
You well know our suffering!
An when man, that pale wanderer,
Weeps in the lonely wood,
Shadowy, mysterious laments
Greet him, likewise weeping.
Good forest! Open promise
Of exile that life implores,
I come with a step still brisk
Into your still green depths.
But a slender birch by the path,
A reddish leaf brushes
My head and quivers on my shoulder -
For the ageing forest,
Knowing that winter, when all withers,
Is already close for me as for her,
Bestows on me the fraternal gift,
Of its first dead leaf!
Translation © Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Composer

 

​"Gabriel Urbain Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his best-known works are his Pavane, Requiem, nocturnes for piano and the songs "Après un rêve" and "Clair de lune". Although his best-known and most accessible compositions are generally his earlier ones, Fauré composed many of his most highly regarded works in his later years, in a more harmonically and melodically complex style." (Wikipedia)

For more information about the life and work of Gabriel Fauré please see the Wikipedia article here.


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Poet

Catulle Mendès was a French poet and man of letters.
Of Portuguese Jewish extraction, Mendès was born in Bordeaux. After childhood and adolescence in Toulouse, he arrived in Paris in 1859 and quickly became one of the proteges of the poet Théophile Gautier. He promptly attained notoriety with the publication in the La Revue fantaisiste (1861) of his Roman d'une nuit, for which he was condemned to a month's imprisonment and a fine of 500 francs. He was allied with Parnassianism from the beginning of the movement and displayed extraordinary metrical skill in his first volume of poems, Philoméla (1863). His critics have noted that the elegant verse of his later volumes is distinguished rather by dexterous imitation of different writers than by any marked originality. The versatility and fecundity of Mendès' talent is shown in his critical and dramatic writings, including several libretti, and in his novels and short stories. His short stories continue the French tradition of the licentious conte.

Taken from Wikipedia. To view the full article, please click here.


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