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An ode on the death of Mr Henry Purcell

Language: English

Mark how the lark and linnet sing:
With rival notes
They strain their warbling throats
To welcome in the spring.

But in the close of night
When Philomel begins her heav'nly lay,
They cease their mutual spite,
Drink in her music with delight,
And list'ning and silent obey.

So ceas'd the rival crew when Purcell came:
They sung no more, or only sung his fame.
Struck dumb, they all admir'd the matchless man,
Alas, too soon retir'd,
As he too late began.

We beg not Hell our Orpheus to restore:
Had he been there,
Their sovereign's fear
Had sent him back before.

The pow'r of harmony too well they knew;
He long ere this had tun'd their jarring sphere,
And left no Hell below.
The heav'nly choir, who heard his notes from high,
Let down the scale of music from the sky;

They handed him along,
And all the way he taught, and all the way they sung.
Ye brethren of the lyre and tuneful voice,
Lament his lot, but at your own rejoice.
Now live secure, and linger out your days:
The gods are pleas'd alone with Purcell's lays,
Nor know to mend their choice.

Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

Submitted by John Versmoren


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: "Une ode sur la mort de Mr Henry Purcell", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website: 2004-06-29.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:02:08
Line count: 30
Word count: 196

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Une ode sur la mort de Mr Henry Purcell

Language: French (Français) after the English

Notez comme l'alouette et la linotte chantent :
Avec des notes rivales 
elles lancent avec force leurs gazouillis
De leurs gorges pour accueillir le printemps.

Mais à la tombée de la nuit
Quand Philomèle commence son chant céleste,
Elles cessent leur lutte mutuelle,
Boivent sa musique avec délice,
Et l'écoutent dans un silence religieux.

Ainsi cessèrent les groupes rivaux quand Purcell arriva :
Ils ne chantèrent plus ou seulement à sa gloire.
Muet de saisissement, ils admirèrent tous l'homme sans égal,
Hélas, il est parti trop vite,
Alors qu'il a commencé trop tard.

Nous ne demandons pas à l'Enfer de rendre notre Orphée :
S'il avait été là,
Leur crainte du souverain
L'aurait renvoyé avant.

Ils connaissaient trop bien le pouvoir de l'harmonie ;
Depuis longtemps il avait accordé leurs discordes,
Et ne laissa aucun enfer ici-bas.
Le chœur céleste, qui entendait ses notes d'en haut,
Avait tendu l'échelle musicale depuis le ciel.

Ils lui tendirent la main,
Et tout au long de sa vie, il enseigna et ils chantèrent.
Camarades de la lyre et voix mélodieuses,
Pleurez son sort, mais du vôtre réjouissez-vous.
Maintenant vis en paix et veille sur nos jours :
Les dieux seuls prennent du plaisir aux chants de Purcell,
Et ne savent pas rectifier leur choix.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2012 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 John Dryden (1631 - 1700)
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): John Blow. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2012-10-02.
Last modified: 2014-06-16 10:05:04
Line count: 30
Word count: 211