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L'eau pure du bassin

Language: French (Français)

"Eau pure du bassin, miroir immobile, 
dis-moi ma beauté. - [Ô]1 Bilitis, ou qui que tu sois, 
Téthys peut-être  ou Amphitritê, 
tu es belle, sache-le.

"Ton visage se penche sous ta chevelure épaisse,
gonflée de fleurs et de parfums. 
Tes paupières molles s'ouvrent à peine 
et tes flancs sont las des mouvements de l'amour.

"Ton corps fatigué du poids de tes seins 
porte les marques fines de l'ongle 
et les taches bleues du baiser. 
Tes bras sont rougis par l'étreinte. 
Chaque ligne de ta peau fut aimée.

-- Eau claire du bassin, ta fraîcheur repose. 
Reçois-moi, qui suis lasse en effet. 
Emporte le fard de mes joues, et la sueur de mon ventre 
et le souvenir de la nuit."

Translation(s): ENG GER

List of language codes

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Debussy.

Submitted by Marvin J. Ward


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

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

  • ENG English (Marvin J. Ward) , title 1: "The pure water of the basin", copyright © 2003, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , title 1: "Klares Wasser im Bassin", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2017-05-05 22:47:45
Line count: 17
Word count: 118

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The pure water of the basin

Language: English after the French (Français)

"Pure water of the basin, motionless mirror, 
tell me my beauty." "Bilitis, or whoever you are,
Thetys perhaps or Amphitrite, 
you are beautiful, know it. 

Your face is tilted beneath your thick hair,
swollen with flowers and perfume. 
Your soft eyelids are scarcely open 
and your flanks are weary from the movements of love. 

Your body tired from the weight of your breasts bears 
the fine marks of the fingernail 
and the blue stains of the kiss. 
Your arms are red from the embrace. 
Every line of your skin was loved." 

"Clear water of the basin, your coolness gives rest. 
Receive me who am indeed weary. 
Take away the color from my cheeks, and the sweat from
my belly and the memory of the night."

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.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2003 by Marvin J. Ward, (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


Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:39
Line count: 17
Word count: 125