by Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG GER
Nicolette, à la vesprée,
S'allait promener au pré,
Cueillir la pâquerette, 
la jonquille et la muguet,
Toute sautillante, toute guillerette,
Lorgnant ci, là de tous les côtés.

Rencontra vieux loup grognant,
Tout hérissé, l'œil brillant;
Hé là! ma Nicolette, 
viens tu pas chez Mère Grand?
A perte d'haleine, s'enfuit Nicolette,
Laissant là cornette et socques blancs.

Rencontra page joli,
Chausses bleues et pourpoint gris,
"Hé là! ma Nicolette, 
veux tu pas d'un doux ami?
Sage, s'en retourna, très lentement, 
le cœur bien marri.

Rencontra seigneur chenu,
Tors, laid, puant et ventru
"Hé là! ma Nicolette,
veux tu pas tous ces écus?
Vite fut en ses bras, bonne Nicolette
Jamais au pré n'est plus revenue.


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) , title 1: "Nicolette", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , title 1: "Nicolette", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Auditorium du Louvre

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 24
Word count: 114

Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Nicolette, at twilight1,
Went for a walk through the fields,
To pick daisies, 
daffodils2, and lilies of the valley3.
Skipping around, completely jolly,
Spying4 here, there, and everywhere.
She met an old, growling wolf,
On alert5, eyes a-sparkle:
"Hey there! Nicolette, my dear, 
won't you come to Grandmother's6 house?"
Out of breath, Nicolette fled,
Leaving behind her cornette7 and white clogs.
She met a cute page,
Blue shoes and gray doublet8:
"Hey there! Nicolette dear, 
wouldn't you like a sweetheart?"
Wisely, she turned 'round, poor Nicolette,
very slowly, with a contrite heart.
She met an old gentleman9,
Twisted10, ugly, smelly and pot-bellied:
"Hey there! Nicolette dear,
don't you want all this money11?"
She ran straight into his arms, good Nicolette,
Never to return to the fields again.

View original text (without footnotes)
1 vesprée is an archaic spelling of vêprée, meaning at the time of evening (Catholic) vespers, very late afternoon, just before sunset
2 The American Daffodil Society classes all daffodils, hyacinths, and jonquils as daffodils, but the British prefer the specific name jonquil, or rush daffodil.
3 Muguet is more general in archaic French, and could mean bluebells and other similar flowers as well.
4 lorgner - to look at using a monocle or lorgnette, to covet, leer, or ogle
5 hérisser - to bristle, ruffle fur, to get somebody's back up
6 Mère-Grand - humourous reversal of grand-mère, quoting from the original Charles Perrault story "Le petit shaperon rouge," sounding like the wolf doesn't really know her. Perrault follows his story with a clarification that the wolf represents all sorts of predators.
7 cornette - Middle French term for a white cloth headdress won by the Sisters of Charity and other Renaissance French women
8 pourpoint - costume covering the body from the nexk to just below the belt (dictionary of the Académie Française)
9 chenu - Old French for aged, old person
10 short for torsadée - twisted
11 écu - a pre-revolutionary French coin related to the scudo/escudo, wroth roughly 20 Euros (modern equivalent(; écus (modern colloquial) - lots of money, as 19th-century Frnech 5-franc silver coins were still called écus by the French


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2013 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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This text was added to the website: 2013-06-10
Line count: 24
Word count: 127