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Five Poems of Baudelaire

Word count: 784

Song Cycle by Claude Achille Debussy (1862 - 1918)

Original language: Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire

1. The balcony

Language: English after the French (Français)

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

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Based on

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Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses,
you who are all my pleasures and all my duties,
you will remember the beauty of our caresses,
the sweetness of the hearth, the charm of the evenings,
mother of memories, mistress of mistresses.

On evenings lit by the glowing coal-fire
and evenings on the balcony, veiled with pink mist,
how soft your breast was, how kind to me was your heart!
Often we said imperishable things
on evenings lit by the glowing coal-fire.

How beautiful the sun is on warm evenings!
How deep is space! How powerful the human heart!
As I leant over you, oh queen of all adored ones,
I thought I was breathing the fragrance of your blood.
How beautiful the sun is on warm evenings!

The night would thicken like a wall around us,
and in the dark my eyes would make out yours,
and I would drink your breath, oh sweetness, oh poison!
And your feet would fall asleep in my brotherly hands.
The night would thicken like a wall around us.

I know how to evoke the moments of happiness,
I relive my past, nestling my head on your lap.
For why would I seek your languid beauties anywhere
except in your dear body and your oh-so-gentle heart?
I know how to evoke the moments of happiness!

Will those sweet words, those perfumes, those infinite kisses
be reborn from a chasm deeper than we may fathom
like suns that rise rejuvenated into the sky
after cleansing themselves in the oceans' depths?
Oh sweet words, oh perfumes, oh infinite kisses!


IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

2. Evening harmony

Language: English after the French (Français)

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2000 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

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Based on
  • a text in French (Français) by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "Harmonie du soir", written 1857, appears in Les Fleurs du Mal, in 1. Spleen et Idéal, no. 47, first published 1857 GER RUS SPA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Robert Alger, Alfredo Amadei, Jean-Guy Bailly, Gérard Bertouille, Benjamin C. S. Boyle, Pierre de Bréville, Claude Achille Debussy, Claude Duboscq, Léo Ferré, Aleksandr Tikhonovich Gretchaninov, Charles Lecocq, Charles Martin Tornov Loeffler, Émile Naoumoff, Bernard Rands, Gabriel de Saint-Quentin, Jósef-Zygmunt Szulc, Judith Lang Zaimont. Go to the text.

See other settings of this text.


Here come the moments when, quivering on its stem,
each flower gives off fragrance like a censer;
the sounds and perfumes circle in the evening air,
a melancholy waltz, a languid dizziness!

Each flower gives off fragrance like a censer;
the violin trembles like a heart in distress,
a melancholy waltz, a languid dizziness!
The sky is sad and beautiful like a vast altar.

The violin trembles like a heart in distress,
a tender heart, which hates the huge, dark void!
The sky is sad and beautiful like a vast altar;
the sun has drowned in its own congealing blood.

A tender heart, which hates the huge, dark void,
gathers up every relic of the harmonious past!
The sun has drowned in its own congealing blood, -
the memory of you shines in me like a monstrance!


IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

3. The fountain

Language: English after the French (Français)

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

    Contact:

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    (licenses at lieder dot net)



Based on
  • a text in French (Français) by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "Le jet d'eau", appears in Les Épaves, in Galanteries, no. 8, first published 1866 SPA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Gérard Bertouille, Gustave Charpentier, Claude Achille Debussy. Go to the text.

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Your pretty eyes are tired, poor darling!
Keeping them closed, stay a long time still
in that nonchalant pose 
in which pleasure came upon you.
Out in the courtyard the chattering fountain
never silent night or day
is gently prolonging the ecstasy
into which love has plunged me this evening.

        The water-sheaf which waves
        to and fro its thousand flowers,
        and through which the moon
        shines its pallid rays,
        falls like a shower
        of large teardrops.

Even so your soul, set ablaze
by the burning flash of pleasure,
leaps up, rapid and bold,
towards the vast enchanted skies.
And then it spills, dying,
in a wave of sad languor
down an invisible slope
into the depths of my heart.

Oh beloved, whom night makes so beautiful,
as I lean over your breasts, I find it sweet
to listen to the eternal lament
that sobs in the fountain-basins!
Oh moon, sounds of water, blessed night,
oh trees trembling all around,
your pure melancholy
is the mirror of my love.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

4. Meditative calm

Language: English after the French (Français)

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

    Contact:

    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)



Based on
  • a text in French (Français) by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "Recueillement", appears in Les Fleurs du Mal, in Appendices, no. 13 SPA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Kees van Baaren, Jean-Guy Bailly, Marcel Bertrand, Charles Bordes, Antônio Francisco Braga, Gustave Bret, Marguerite Canal, Jean Chatillon, Claude Achille Debussy, Colette Delatour, Alphons Diepenbrock, Gustave Doret, Claude Duboscq, Luis de Freitas Branco, Antony Hopkins, Christophe Looten, Arne Mellnäs, Klaus Miehling, Louis Vierne. Go to the text.

See other settings of this text.


 Behave yourself, oh my Pain, and be more tranquil.
 You asked for Evening - it is falling, it is here.
 An atmosphere of darkness envelops the city
 bringing peace to some and worry to others.
 
 Now while the base multitude of mortals,
 whipped on by Pleasure, that merciless tormentor,
 goes off to reap remorse in servile entertainments,
 give me your hand, my Pain, come this way
 
 far from them. Look, the dead Years are leaning
 at the sky's balconies, in outmoded dresses;
 from the river's depths Regret is rising with a smile;
 
 the moribund Sun is falling asleep under an arch.
 And like a long shroud trailing in from the East,
 listen, my dear, listen to the gentle Night approaching.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

5. The death of the lovers

Language: English after the French (Français)

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 by Peter Low, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

    Contact:

    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)



Based on
  • a text in French (Français) by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867), "La mort des amants", written 1851, appears in Les Fleurs du Mal, in 6. La Mort, no. 121 ITA SPA
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Georges Antoine, Gary Bachlund, Michel Bosc, Benjamin C. S. Boyle, Gustave Charpentier, Claude Achille Debussy, Germain Desbonnet, Patrick van Deurzen, Léo Ferré, Luis de Freitas Branco, Wim Laman, René Lenormand, Guillemette Marrannes, Gaston Serpette, Leo Smit. Go to the text.

Go to the single-text view


We will have beds filled with light perfumes,
divans as deep as tombs,
and displays of exotic flowers
which have bloomed for us under fairer skies.

Vying to use up their final heat
our hearts will be two huge torches
reflecting their double light
in the twin mirrors of our two spirits.

On an evening that is all mystic blue and pink
we will exchange a single lightning-flash
like one long sob, laden with farewells;

And later, an angel, nudging open the doors,
will enter, faithful and joyous, to revive
the tarnished mirrors and dead flames.


IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.

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