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La mer

Language: French (Français)

Ô Mer, sinistre mer, que la bise d'automne
Secoue et fait claquer ainsi qu'un vain lambeau :
Ô Mer, joyeuse Mer, magnifique manteau
Qu'agraffe le soleil aux flancs nus de Latone1 ;

Ô Mer, sinistre mer, dont les gémissements
Troublent l'esprit nocturne attardé sur les grèves ;
Ô Mer, joyeuse mer qui, pour bercer les rêves,
As des bruits de baisers et [de chuchotements]2 ;

Ô Mer, sinistre mer, pleine de funérailles !
Ô Mer, joyeuse mer, qui peuple un flot vivant !
La vie avec la mort en toi semblent [souvent]3
S'unir pour féconder tes profondes entrailles.

Es-tu la coupe immense où le philtre sacré
Des renouvellements opère son mystère,
Où viennent se tremper les forces de la Terre,
Pour embrasser la forme en faisceau plus serré ?

Es-tu le temple obscur de nos métamorphoses ?
Le trésor infini des mouvements divers
Dont s'animent les corps épars dans l'univers,
Et des aspects sans fin que revêtent les choses ? 

Puisque, sans te lasser, l'âpre travail du vent
Engloutit dans tes flancs de charnelles semailles,
Ô Mer, sinistre Mer, pleinde de funérailles !
Ô Mer, joyeuse Mer qui peuple un flot vivant!

Translation(s): ENG

List of language codes

A. Castillon sets stanzas 1-3, 6

View original text (without footnotes)
1 In Roman mythology, Latone was the mother of Apollo and Diana through Jupiter. Juno pursued Latone in revenge, but Neptune took her under his protection, creating the island of Delos for her to live on with her children.
2 Castillon: "des frémissements"
3 omitted by Castillon.

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):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "The sea", copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:50
Line count: 24
Word count: 192

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The sea

Language: English after the French (Français)

Oh Sea, sinister sea that the north wind of autumn
Shakes and flaps just like a useless shred of cloth:
Oh Sea, joyful Sea, magnificent coat
Which the sun clasps around Latone's nude flanks;

Oh Sea, sinister sea, whose groans
Trouble the nocturnal spirit lingering on the strand;
Oh Sea, joyful sea who, in order to cradle dreams,
Possesses the noises of kisses and of quivering;

Oh Sea, sinister Sea, full of funerals!
Oh Sea, joyful Sea, who populates a living wave!
Life and death often seem, in you,
To unite to inseminate your profound depths.



Since, without tiring, the fierce work of the wind
Swallows up the carnal sowing of your slopes ,
Oh Sea, sinister Sea, full of funerals!
Oh Sea, joyful Sea, who populates a living wave!

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  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2018 by Laura Prichard, (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: 2018-01-08.
Last modified: 2018-01-08 11:55:55
Line count: 18
Word count: 132