The LiederNet Archive
WARNING. Not all the material on this website is in the public domain.
It is illegal to copy and distribute our copyright-protected material without permission.
For more information, contact us at the following address:
licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net

Clair de lune

Language: French (Français)

Jadis, aux jours du Feu, quand la Terre, en hurlant,
[Roulait]1 son bloc fluide à travers le ciel blanc,
Elle enfla par degrés sa courbe originelle,
Puis, dans un vaste effort, creva ses flancs ignés,
Et lança, vers le flux des mondes déjà nés,
La Lune qui germait en elle.

Alors, dans la splendeur des siècles éclatants,
Sans relâche, sans fin, à toute heure du temps,
La mère, ivre d'amour, contemplait dans sa force
L'astre enfant qui courait comme un jeune soleil:
Il flambait. Un froid vint l'engourdir de sommeil 
Et pétrifia son écorce.

Puis, ce fut l'âge blond des tiédeurs et des vents:
La Lune se peupla de murmures vivants;
Elle eut des mers sans fond et des fleuves sans nombre,
Des troupeaux, des cités, des pleurs, des cris joyeux;
Elle eut l'amour; elle eut ses arts, ses lois, ses dieux,
Et, lentement, rentra dans l'ombre.

Depuis, rien ne sent plus son baiser jeune et chaud;
La Terre qui vieillit la cherche encor là-haut:
Tout est nu. Mais, le soir, passe un globe éphémère,
Et l'on dirait, à voir sa forme errer sans bruit,
L'âme d'un enfant mort qui reviendrait la nuit
Pour regarder dormir sa mère.

Translation(s): ENG GER

List of language codes

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Edmond Haraucourt: L'Ame Nue, Paris, G. Charpentier et Cie, éditeurs, 1885, pages 25-26.

1 Koechlin: "Jetait"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Peter Rastl [Guest Editor]


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 (Faith J. Cormier) , "Moonlight", copyright © 2001, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Mondlicht", copyright © 2004, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

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

Last modified: 2017-12-26 12:02:40
Line count: 24
Word count: 198

Gentle Reminder
This website began in 1995 as a personal project, and I have been working on it full-time without a salary since 2008. Our research has never had any government or institutional funding, so if you found the information here useful, please consider making a donation. Your gift is greatly appreciated.
     - Emily Ezust


Language: English after the French (Français)

 Long ago, in the days of fire, when the Earth cried out
 as it threw its fluid blocks through the white sky,
 slowly swelling her original curves
 and, in a great effort, split her fiery flanks
 and hurled, toward the flux of worlds already born,
 the Moon that grew within her.
 Then in the splendor of brilliant centuries,
 tirelessly, endlessly, eternally, 
 the mother, drunk with love, contemplated in her strength
 the heavenly infant who ran like a young sun.
 She burned! Cold made her sleepy 
 and petrified her skin.
 Then came the blonde age of soft temperatures and winds.
 The Moon was inhabited with living murmurs.
 She had bottomless oceans and numberless rivers;
 flocks, cities, tears, cries of joy;
 she knew love, the arts, laws, her gods,
 and slowly she slipped back into the shadows.
 There has been nothing since the like of her young, hot kiss.
 The Earth grows old, and still searches the heavens for her.
 All is bare... but at night, a ghostly sphere passes
 and you might say, seeing her form wander noiselessly,
 that she was the soul of a dead child returning at night
 to watch her mother sleep.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The material directly above is protected by copyright and appears here by special permission. If you wish to copy it and distribute it, you must obtain permission or you will be breaking the law. Once you have permission, you must give credit to the author and display the copyright symbol ©. Copyright infringement is a criminal offense under international law.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 by Faith J. Cormier, (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.


    licenses (AT) lieder (DOT) net
    (licenses at lieder dot net)

Based on


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

Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:01:31
Line count: 24
Word count: 195