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Les berceaux Op. 23 no.1

Les berceaux

Le long du quai les grands vaisseaux,
Que la houle incline en silence,
Ne prennent pas garde aux berceaux
Que la main des femmes balance.
Mais viendra le jour des adieux,
Car il faut que les femmes pleurent,
Et que les hommes curieux
Tentent les horizons qui leurrent.
Et ce jour-là les grands vaisseaux,
Fuyant le port qui diminue,
Sentent leur masse retenue
Par l’âme des lointains berceaux.

The cradles

Along the quay the great ships,
Listing silently with the surge,
Pay no heed to the cradles
Rocked by women’s hands.
But the day of parting will come,
For it is decreed that women shall weep,
And that men with questing spirits
Shall seek enticing horizons.
And on that day the great ships,
Leaving the dwindling harbour behind,
Shall feel their hulls held back
By the soul of the distant cradles.
Translations by Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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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

René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme was a French poet and essayist, and was the first ever winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1901.

Born in Paris, Prudhomme originally studied to be an engineer, but turned to philosophy and later to poetry; he declared it as his intent to create scientific poetry for modern times. In character sincere and melancholic, he was linked to the Parnassus school, although, at the same time, his work displays characteristics of its own.

Prudhomme attended the Lycée Bonaparte, but eye trouble interrupted his studies. He worked for a while in the Creusot region for the Schneider steel foundry, and then began studying law in a notary's office. The favourable reception of his early poems by the Conférence La Bruyère (a student society) encouraged him to begin a literary career.

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