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Zwei Balladen

Word count: 606

Song Cycle by Paul Hindemith (1895 - 1963)

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1. La belle dame sans merci [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: English

Translation(s): FRE GER ITA

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "La belle dame sans merci", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , "La belle dame sans merci", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
   [Alone]1 and palely loitering?
The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
   And no birds sing.

O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms!
   So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
   And the harvest's done.

I see a lily on thy brow
   With anguish moist and fever dew,
And on thy cheeks a fading rose
   Fast withereth too.

I met a lady in the meads,
   Full beautiful -- a faery's child,
Her hair was long, her foot was light,
   And her eyes were wild.

I made a garland for her head,
   And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She look'd at me as she did love,
   And made sweet moan.

I set her on my pacing steed,
   And nothing else saw all day long,
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
   A faery's song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,
   And honey wild, and manna dew,
And sure in language strange she said --
   "I love thee true."

She took me to her elfin grot,
   And there she wept, and sigh'd full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
   With kisses four.

[And there]2 she lull'd me asleep,
   [And there]2 I dream'd -- [Ah!]3 woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream'd
   On the cold [hill's side]4.

I saw pale kings and princes too,
   Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
[They]5 cried -- "La Belle Dame sans Merci
   Hath thee in thrall!"

[I saw their starved lips in the gloom,
   With horrid warning gaping wide,]3
And I awoke and found me here,
   On the cold [hill's side]4.

And this is why I sojourn here,
   Alone and palely loitering,
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake,
   And no birds sing.


View original text (without footnotes)
First published in Indicator, May 1820
1 Stanford: "So lone"
2 W. Mayer: "There"
3 omitted by W. Mayer
4 W. Mayer: "hillside"
5 W. Mayer: "Who"

Submitted by Ted Perry

2. Bal des pendus [ sung text not yet checked against a primary source]

Language: French (Fran├žais)

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Au gibet noir, manchot aimable,
Dansent, dansent les paladins,
Les maigres paladins du diable,
Les squelettes de Saladins.

Messire Belzébuth tire par la cravate
Ses petits pantins noirs grimaçant sur le ciel,
Et, leur claquant au front un revers de savate,
Les fait danser, danser aux sons d'un vieux Noël!

Et les pantins choqués enlacent leurs bras grêles
Comme des orgues noirs, les poitrines à jour
Que serraient autrefois les gentes damoiselles
Se heurtent longuement dans un hideux amour.

Hurrah! les gais danseurs, qui n'avez plus de panse!
On peut cabrioler, les tréteaux sont si longs!
Hop! qu'on ne sache plus si c'est bataille ou danse!
Belzébuth enragé racle ses violons!

Ô durs talons, jamais on n'use sa sandale!
Presque tous ont quitté la chemise de peau;
Le reste est peu gênant et se voit sans scandale.
Sur les crânes, la neige applique un blanc chapeau:

Le corbeau fait panache à ces têtes fêlées,
Un morceau de chair tremble à leur maigre menton:
On dirait, tournoyant dans les sombres mêlées,
Des preux, raides, heurtant armures de carton.

Hurrah! la bise siffle au grand bal des squelettes!
Le gibet noir mugit comme un orgue de fer!
Les loups vont répondant des forêts violettes:
A l'horizon, le ciel est d'un rouge d'enfer...

Holà, secouez-moi ces capitans funèbres
Qui défilent, sournois, de leurs gros doigts cassés
Un chapelet d'amour sur leurs pâles vertèbres:
Ce n'est pas un moustier ici, les trépassés!

Oh! voilà qu'au milieu de la danse macabre
Bondit dans le ciel rouge un grand squelette fou
Emporté par l'élan, comme un cheval se cabre:
Et, se sentant encor la corde raide au cou,

Crispe ses petits doigts sur son fémur qui craque
Avec des cris pareils à des ricanements,
Et, comme un baladin rentre dans la baraque,
Rebondit dans le bal au chant des ossements.

Au gibet noir, manchot aimable,
Dansent, dansent les paladins,
Les maigres paladins du diable,
Les squelettes de Saladins.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

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