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The Send‑Off

Language: English

Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men's are, dead.

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.

So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours:
We never heard to which front these were sent.
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant
Who gave them flowers.

Shall we return to beatings of great bells
In wild train-loads?
A few, a few, too few for drums and yells,
May creep back, silent, to village wells
Up half-known roads.

Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

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 or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Le départ", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website: 2007-05-04.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:21
Line count: 20
Word count: 128

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Le départ

Language: French (Français) after the English

En descendant des chemins étroits, assombris, ils chantaient leur chemin
Jusqu'au hangar,
Et longèrent le train avec des visages résolument gais.
Leurs poitrines étaient couvertes tout de blanc avec des couronnes et des gouttelettes 
Comme celles des hommes, morts.

Les porteurs ternes les regardaient, et un clochard sans-gêne
Était là, le regard dur,
Désolé qu'ils manquent au camp des plateaux.
Puis, impassibles, les signaux acquiescèrent, et une lampe
Fit signe au garde.

Tellement secrètement, comme des torts étouffés, ils sont allés.
Ils n'étaient pas des nôtres:
Nous n'avions jamais entendu à quel front ils avaient été envoyés.
Ni là-bas s'ils se moquent encore de ce que voulaient dire les femmes 
Qui leur ont donné des fleurs.

Allons-nous retourner vers les coups des grosses cloches
Dans des chargements de trains sauvages ?
Quelques-uns, quelques-uns, trop peu pour les tambours et les cris,
Peuvent se glisser, silencieux, vers les puits du village
Sur des routes à moitié connues.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2017 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 Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918)
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Gary Bachlund. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2017-11-16.
Last modified: 2017-11-16 11:19:36
Line count: 20
Word count: 156