Three songs

Translations © by Peter Low

Song Cycle by Jean Barraqué (1928 - 1973)

Original language: Trois mélodies

1. Je dors, et mon coeur veille [sung text checked 1 time]
Je dors, et mon cœur veille : 
j'entends la voix de mon bien-aimé qui frappe à ma porte : 
Ouvrez-moi, ma sœur, mon amie, ma colombe, 
vous qui êtes sans tache ; 
parce que ma tête est pleine de rosée, 
et mes cheveux des gouttes d’eau qui sont tombées pendant la nuit.

Mon bien-aimé a passé sa main par l’ouverture de la porte, 
et mes entrailles se sont émues au bruit qu'il a fait ;

Je me suis levé pour ouvrir à mon bien-aimé.

J'ai ouvert à mon bien-aimé ;
mais il s’en était déjà allé, et il avait passé ailleurs.
Mon âme s’était comme fondue au son de sa voix :
je l'ai cherché, et ne l'ai point trouvé ;
je l'ai appelée, il ne m'a point répondu.

Les gardes qui font le tour de la ville m’ont rencontrée :
ils m’ont frappée et blessée.
Ceux qui gardent les murailles m’ont ôté mon manteau.

Je vous conjure, filles de Jérusalem,
si vous trouvez mon bien-aimé, 
de lui dire que je languis d’amour.

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "I sleep, but my heart is awake", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
1. I sleep, but my heart is awake
I sleep, but my heart is awake: 
I hear the voice of my beloved who is knocking on my door: 
“Open it for me, my sister, my friend, my dove, 
my flawless one, 
for my head is drenched with dew, 
my hair is full of the dampness of the night.”

My beloved passed his hand through the gap in the door, 
and I was moved in my guts hearing the sound he made.

I rose to open for my beloved.

I opened the door; 
but he had already left, he had gone elsewhere. 
My soul had melted, as it were, at the sound of his voice. 
I sought him and had no success, 
I called him and got no answer.

The watchmen that patrol the city met me.  
They struck me and wounded me. 
The guardians of the wall took away my cloak.

I beg you, daughters of Jerusalem, 
if you find my beloved, 
tell him that I am languishing with love.

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2017 by Peter Low, (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: 2017-09-12
Line count: 20
Word count: 162

Translation © by Peter Low
2. L'étranger [sung text checked 1 time]
Qui aimes-tu le mieux, homme énigmatique, [dis]1 ? 
  Ton père, ta mère, ta sœur [ou]1 ton frère ?
- Je n'ai ni père, ni mère, ni sœur, ni frère.
- Tes amis ?
- Vous vous servez là d'une parole dont le sens 
  m'est restée jusqu'à ce jour inconnu.
- Ta patrie ?
- J'ignore sous quelle latitude elle est située.
- La beauté ?
- Je l'aimerais volontiers, déesse et immortelle.
- L'or ?
- Je le hais comme vous haïssez Dieu.
- Eh ! qu'aimes-tu donc, extraordinaire étranger ?
- J'aime les nuages. Les nuages qui passent... 
  là-bas...là-bas les merveilleux nuages !

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Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "The stranger", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Barraqué.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by Charles Baudelaire (1821 - 1867)
2. The stranger
Who do you love most, enigmatic man – say it - 
  your father, your mother, your sister or your brother?
- I have no father, no mother, no sister, no brother.
- Your friends?
- The meaning of that word 
  has always been unknown to me.
- Your homeland?
- I don't know what latitude it lies in.
- Beauty?
- That I would gladly love, as a goddess or immortal woman.
- Gold?
- I hate it as you hate God.
- Eh! What do you love then, extraordinary stranger?
- I love the clouds… the clouds that pass… 
  there… up there… the marvellous clouds!

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2017 by Peter Low, (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: 2017-09-12
Line count: 15
Word count: 106

Translation © by Peter Low
3. L'époux infernal [sung text checked 1 time]
[ ... ]

« Ô divin Époux, mon Seigneur, ne refusez pas 
la confession de la plus [triste]2 de vos servantes.
Je suis perdue. Je suis soûle. 
Je suis impure. Quelle vie !

« Pardon, divin Seigneur, pardon ! Ah ! pardon ! 
Que de larmes ! Et que de larmes encore 
plus tard, j'espère !

« Plus tard, je connaîtrai le divin Époux ! 
Je suis née soumise à Lui. -- 
L'autre peut me battre maintenant !

« À présent, je suis au fond du monde ! Ô mes 
amies !… non, pas mes amies… Jamais délires 
ni tortures semblables… Est-ce bête !

« Ah ! je souffre, je crie. Je souffre 
vraiment. Tout pourtant m'est permis, 
chargée du mépris des plus méprisables cœurs.

[ ... ]

« Je suis esclave de l'Époux infernal, 
celui qui a perdu les vierges folles. 
C'est bien ce démon-là. Ce n'est pas un spectre, 
ce n'est pas un fantôme. Mais moi qui ai perdu la sagesse, 
qui suis damnée et morte au monde, -- 
on ne me tuera pas ! -- Comment vous le décrire ! 
je ne sais même plus parler. Je suis en deuil, 
je pleure, j'ai peur. Un peu de fraîcheur, Seigneur, 
si vous voulez, si vous voulez bien !

« Je suis veuve… -- J'étais veuve… -- mais oui, 
j'ai été bien sérieuse jadis, et je ne suis pas née 
pour devenir squelette !… -- 
Lui était presque un enfant… 
Ses délicatesses mystérieuses m'avaient séduite. 
J'ai oublié tout mon devoir humain pour le suivre. 
Quelle vie ! La vraie vie est absente. 
Nous ne sommes pas au monde. Je vais où il va, 
il le faut. Et souvent il s'emporte contre moi, 
moi, la pauvre âme. Le Démon ! -- C'est un Démon, 
vous savez, ce n'est pas un homme.3

[ ... ]

Authorship:

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "The infernal bridegroom", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)

Note: this is a prose text; the line breaks are arbitrary.

1 omitted by Barraqué
2 Barraqué: "humble"
3 Barraqué's setting ends here.

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
3. The infernal bridegroom
[ ... ]

Oh divine Bridegroom, my Lord, do not refuse 
the confession of the [saddest]1 of your handmaids. 
I am lost.  I am drunk.  
I am impure.  What a life!

Forgive me, divine Lord, forgive, ah forgive! 
What a lot of tears!  And many more tears 
later on, I hope!

Later I will come to know the divine Bridegroom! 
I was born enslaved to Him!  
The other one can beat me at present!

Now I am at the bottom of the world!  Oh my 
women friends!... No, not my friends... 
Never were there such ravings and tortures... It's so stupid!

Ah, I'm in pain, I cry out.  I'm really suffering.  
And yet everything is permitted me, 
as I am burdened with the contempt of the most contemptible hearts.

[ ... ]

I am a slave of the infernal Bridegroom, 
the one who ruined the foolish virgins. 
He is the demon in question.  He is not a ghost, 
not a phantom.  But I who have lost my wisdom, 
who am damned and dead to the world, 
I will not be killed!...  How can I describe him, 
I can't even speak now.  I am in mourning, 
in tears, frightened.  A little coolness, Lord, 
if you will, if you would be so kind!

I am a widow… I was a widow… but yes, 
I used to be quite proper, and I was not born 
to become a skeleton!…   
He was almost a child… 
His mysterious tenderness had seduced me. 
I forgot all my human duty to follow him.  
What a life!  True life is absent.  
We are not in the world.  I go where he goes, 
I have to.  And often he loses his temper with me, 
poor soul that I am.  The Demon… He's a Demon, y
ou know, he is not a man.

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2017 by Peter Low, (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.
    Contact: 

Based on:

View original text (without footnotes)
Note: the above translates Barraqué's selection.
1 Barraqué: "lowest"


This text was added to the website: 2017-09-12
Line count: 40
Word count: 301

Translation © by Peter Low
Total word count: 569