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A little black thing among the snow

Language: English

A little black thing among the snow,
Crying 'weep 'weep in notes of woe!
Where are thy father and mother? say?
They are both gone up to the church to pray.

Because I was happy upon the hearth,
And smil'd among the winter's snow
They clothed me in the clothes of death,
And taught me to sing the notes of woe.

And because I am happy & dance & sing
They think they have done me no injury,
And are gone to praise God & his Priest & King
Who make up a heaven of our misery.

Translation(s): FRE

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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: "Le ramoneur de cheminée", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:21
Line count: 12
Word count: 97

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Le ramoneur de cheminée

Language: French (Français) after the English

Une petite chose noire sur la neige,
Pleurant snif, snif, sur les notes du malheur !
Où sont ton père et ta mère ? dis ?
Ils sont tous les deux allés à l'église prier.

Parce que j'étais heureux sur la cheminée,
Et souriais dans la neige de l'hiver
Ils m'habillèrent avec les habits de la mort,
Et m'apprirent à chanter les notes du malheur.

Et parce que je suis heureux et danse et chante
Ils pensent qu'ils ne m'ont fait aucun mal,
Et sont allés louer Dieu et son prêtre et le roi
Qui maquillent en paradis notre misère.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2009 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 William Blake (1757 - 1827), "The chimney sweeper", appears in Songs of Innocence and Experience, in Songs of Experience, no. 7, first published 1794
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): William Bolcom, Havergal Brian, Benjamin Britten, James Henry Baseden Butt, John H. Corina, Norman Curtis, Don Freund, Ole Carsten Green, Joan Littlejohn, William James Mathias, Oskar Morawetz, Elie Siegmeister, William Marion Smith. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2009-06-26.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:03:16
Line count: 12
Word count: 100