by Paul Verlaine (1844 - 1896)
Translation © by John Glenn Paton

Tournez, tournez, bons chevaux de bois
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG GER
Tournez, tournez, bons chevaux de bois,
Tournez cent tours, tournez mille tours,
Tournez souvent et tournez toujours,
Tournez, tournez au son des hautbois.

L'enfant tout rouge et la mère blanche,
Le gars en noir et la fille en rose,
L'une à la chose et l'autre à la pose,
Chacun se paie un sou de dimanche.

Tournez, tournez, chevaux de leur cœur,
Tandis qu'autour de tous vos tournois
Clignote l'œil du filou sournois,
Tournez au son du piston vainqueur !

C'est étonnant comme ça vous soûle
D'aller ainsi dans ce cirque bête
[Bien]1 dans le ventre et mal dans la tête,
Du mal en masse et du bien en foule.

Tournez au son de l'accordéon,
Du violon, du trombone fous,
Chevaux plus doux que des moutons, doux
Comme un peuple en révolution.

Le vent, fouettant la tente, les verres,
Les zincs et le drapeau tricolore,
Et les jupons, et que sais-je encore ?
Fait un fracas de cinq cents tonnerres.

Tournez, dadas, sans qu'il soit besoin
D'user jamais de nuls éperons
Pour commander à vos galops ronds
Tournez, tournez, sans espoir de foin.

Et dépêchez, chevaux de leur âme
Déjà voici que sonne à la soupe
La nuit qui tombe et chasse la troupe
De gais buveurs que leur soif affame.

Tournez, tournez ! Le ciel en velours
D'astres en or se vêt lentement.
L'église tinte un glas tristement.
Tournez au son joyeux des tambours !

C. Debussy sets stanzas 1-4, 7-9

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View original text (without footnotes)

See also the very similar "Chevaux de bois" in Romances sans paroles.

1 Debussy: "Rien"

Authorship

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 (John Glenn Paton) , "Turn, turn, good horses of wood", copyright © 2000, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

Text added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Last modified: 2017-10-11 12:39:24
Line count: 36
Word count: 235

Turn, turn, good horses of wood
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Turn, turn, good horses of wood,
turn a hundred turns, turn a thousand turns,
turn often and turn always,
turn, turn to the sound of the oboes.

The red-faced child and pale mother,
the boy in black and the girl in pink,
the one pursuing and the other posing,
each getting a penny's worth of Sunday fun.

Turn, turn, horses of their hearts,
while all around your turning
squints the sly pickpocket's eye --
turn to the sound of the victorious cornet.

It is astonishing how it intoxicates you
to go around this way in a stupid circle,
[plenty]1 in the tummy and aching in the head,
very sick and having lots of fun.











Turn, wooden horses, with no need
ever to use spurs
to command you to gallop around,
turn, turn, with no hope for hay.

And hurry, horses of their souls--
hear the supper bell already,
the night that is falling and chasing the troop
of merry drinkers, famished by their thirst.

Turn, turn! The velvet sky
is slowly clothed with golden stars.
The church bell tolls sadly.
Turn, to the happy sound of drums.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Debussy: "nothing"

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2000 by John Glenn Paton, (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: 2017-10-10 12:42:36
Line count: 28
Word count: 186