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In the wilderness

Language: English

[He,]1 of his gentleness,
Thirsting and hungering
Walked in the Wilderness;
Soft words of grace he spoke
Unto lost desert-folk
That listned wondering.
He heard the bittern call
From ruined palace-wall,
Answered him brotherly;
He held communion
With the she-pelican
Of lonely piety.
Basilisk, cockatrice,
Flocked to his homilies,
With mail of dread device,
With monstrous barbed stings,
With eager dragon-eyes;
Great bats on leathern wings
And old, blind, broken things
Mean in their miseries.
Then ever with him went,
Of all his wanderings
Comrade, with ragged coat,
Gaunt ribs -- poor innocent --
Bleeding foot, burning throat,
The guileless young scapegoat;
For forty nights and days
Followed in Jesus' ways,
Sure guard behind him kept,
Tears like a lover wept.

Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bainton: "Christ"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]


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):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , title 1: "Dans le désert", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:31
Line count: 30
Word count: 119

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Dans le désert

Language: French (Français) after the English

Lui, plein de bonté,
Ayant soif et faim,
Marchait dans le désert ;
Avec des mots doux pleins de grâce il parlait
Au peuple perdu du désert
Qui l'écoutait émerveillé.
Il entendit l'appel du butor
Des murs du palais en ruine,
L'interrogeant fraternellement ;
Il fut en communion
Avec la femelle pélican
D'une piété solitaire.
Basilic, coquatrix,
Affluèrent à ses homélies,
Avec des écailles d'aspect horrible,
Avec des épines monstrueusement aiguës
Avec des yeux avides de dragon ;
De grandes chauve-souris sur des ailes de cuir
Et des créatures vieilles et aveugles
Misérables dans leurs malheurs.
Et toujours avec lui allait,
Dans toutes ses marches,
Un compagnon, avec un manteau en haillons,
Les côtes décharnées -- pauvre innocent --
Les pieds en sang, la gorge brûlante,
Jeune et candide bouc émissaire ;
Pendant quarante nuits et quarante jours
Il suivit Jésus dans ses pérégrinations,
Il resta en garde sûr derrière lui,
Il versa des larmes comme un amant.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 by Guy Laffaille, (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 English by Robert Graves (1895 - 1985), "In the wilderness", appears in Over the Brazier, first published 1916
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Edgar Leslie Bainton, Samuel Barber. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2015-06-04.
Last modified: 2015-06-04 22:41:39
Line count: 30
Word count: 156