Les sonnets sacrés de John Donne

Song Cycle by (Edward) Benjamin Britten (1913 - 1976)

Word count: 1189
Original language: The Holy Sonnets of John Donne
1. Oh my blacke Soule! [sung text checked 1 time]
Oh my blacke Soule! now thou art summoned
By sicknesse, death's herald, and champion;
Thou art like a pilgrim,  which abroad hath done
Treason, and durst not turne to whence hee is fled,
Or like a thiefe, which till death's doome be read,
Wisheth himselfe deliver'd from prison;
But dam'd and hal'd to execution,
Wisheth that still he might be imprisoned.
Yet grace, if thou repent, thou canst not lacke;
But who shall give thee that grace to beginne?
Oh make thyselfe with holy mourning blacke,
And red with blushing, as thou are with sinne;
Or wash thee in Christ's blood, which hath this might
That being red, it dyes red soules to white.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
1.
Oh, mon âme noire ! maintenant tu es convoquée par
La maladie, le héraut et le champion de la mort ;
Tu es comme un pèlerin, qui à l'étranger a commis
Une trahison, et n'ose pas retourner d'où il a fui.
Ou comme un voleur, qui jusqu'à ce que le jugement de mort soit lu,
Souhaite lui-même être délivré de la prison ;
Mais condamné et traîné vers l'exécution
Souhaite être encore emprisonné.
Pourtant la grâce, si tu repens, tu ne peux pas la manquer ;
Mais qui te donnera cette grâce pour commencer ?
Oh fais-toi toi-même noir avec de saintes lamentations
Et rouge de honte, comme tu es avec tes péchés ;
Ou lave-toi dans le sang du Christ qui a ce pouvoir
Qu'étant rouge il change les âmes rouges en blanc.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 134

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
2. Batter my heart [sung text checked 1 time]
Batter my heart, three person'd God; for you
As yet but knocke, breathe, shine, and seeke to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to breake, blowe, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt towne, to another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end,
Reason your viceroy in mee, mee should defend
But is captiv'd, and proves weake or untrue.
Yet dearely I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth'd unto your enemie:
Divorce mee, untie, or breake that knot againe,
Take mee to you, imprison mee, for I
Except you enthrall mee, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish mee.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
2. Frappe mon cœur
Frappe mon cœur, Dieu trinitaire ; car toi
respirer, briller, et chercher à corriger,
Que je puisse m'élever, et me tenir, vaincs-moi, et courbe
Ta force, pour et me faire neuf.
Moi, comme une ville usurpée, pour un autre dû,
Je travaille dur pour te laisser entrer, mais Oh, sans fin,
Raisonne ton vice-roi en moi, il devrait me défendre
Mais il est captif, et se montre faible ou infidèle.
Pourtant chèrement je t'aime, et je voudrais être aimé volontiers,
Mais je suis fiancé à ton ennemi :
Fais-moi divorcer, délie-moi, ou brise le nœud à nouveau,
Prends-moi avec toi, emprisonne-moi, car moi,
Sauf si tu m'ensorcèles, je ne serai jamais libre,
Ni même chaste, sauf si tu me ravis.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2010 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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Translations of titles
"Batter my heart" = "Frappe mon cœur"
"Holy sonnet" = "Sonnet sacré"



This text was added to the website: 2010-08-01
Line count: 14
Word count: 120

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
3. Oh might those sighes and teares [sung text checked 1 time]
Oh might those sighes and teares return againe
Into my breast and eyes, which I have spent,
That I might in this holy discontent
Mourne with some fruit, as I have mourn'd in vaine;
In mine Idolatry what show'rs of rain
Mine eyes did waste? What griefs my heart did rent?
That sufferance was my sinne; now I repent
'Cause I did suffer, I must suffer paine.
Th'hydroptique drunkard, and night scouting thief,
The itchy lecher and self-tickling proud
Have the remembrance of past joyes, for relief
Of coming ills. To poore me is allow'd
No ease; for long, yet vehement griefe hath been
Th'effect and cause, the punishment and sinne.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
3.
Oh, puissent ces soupirs et ces larmes retourner à nouveau
Dans mon cœur et les yeux, eux que j'ai dépensés,
Que je puisse dans ce saint mécontentement
Me désoler avec quelque fruit, puisque je me suis désolé en vain ;
Dans mon idolâtrie quelles averses de larmes
Mes yeux n'ont-ils pas versées ? Quels chagrins mon cœur n'a-t-il pas hébergés ?
Ces souffrances sont mon péché ; maintenant je me repens
Car j'ai souffert, je dois supporter la douleur.
L'ivrogne hydropique, et le voleur qui cherche dans la nuit,
Le débauché sans repos et le fier content de lui
Ont le souvenir de joies passées, pour le chagrin
Des maladies à venir. À moi, si pauvre, il ne m'est permis
Aucun soulagement ; car une longue et violente douleur a été
L'effet et la cause et la punition et le péché.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 141

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
4. Oh, to vex me [sung text checked 1 time]
Oh, to vex me, contraryes meet in one:
In constancy unnaturally hath begott
A constant habit; that when I would not
I change in vowes, and in devotione.
As humorous is my contritione
As my profane Love and as soone forgott:
As ridlingly distemper'd, cold and hott,
As praying, as mute; as infinite, as none.
I durst not view Heav'n yesterday; and today
In prayers, and flatt'ring speeches I court God:
Tomorrow I quake with true feare of his rod.
So my devout fitts come and go away,
Like a fantastique Ague: save that here
Those are my best dayes, when I shake with feare.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , "Oh, pour me contrarier", copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , "Ach, um mich zu plagen", copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
4. Oh, pour me contrarier
Oh, pour me contrarier, des contraires se rencontrent :
Dans la constance, anormalement a produit
Une habitude constante ; que quand je ne voudrais pas
Je change en serments, et en dévotions.
Aussi amusante est ma contrition
Que mon amour profane et aussi vite oubliée :
Aussi énigmatiquement de mauvaise humeur, froid et chaud,
Aussi en prières que muet : aussi infini que nul.
Je n'osais pas voir le ciel hier : et aujourd'hui
En prières, et en paroles flatteuses je courtise Dieu :
Demain je tremble avec une vraie peur de sa baguette.
Ainsi mes accès de piété vont et viennent,
Comme une fièvre vertigineuse : sauvez ce qui ici
Forment mes meilleurs jours, quand je tremble de peur.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 120

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
5. What if this present [sung text checked 1 time]
What if this present were the world's last night?
Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Teares in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc'd head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee into hell,
Which pray'd forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
No, no; but as in my Idolatrie
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulenesse onely is
A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign'd,
This beauteous forme assures a piteous minde.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
5.
Que faire si cette nuit était la dernière du monde ?
Marque dans mon cœur, ô mon âme, où tu demeures,
L'image du Christ cruxifié, et dis
Si ce visage peut te terrifier.
Les larmes dans ses yeux éteignent la lumière stupéfiante,
Ses sourcils sont pleins du sang qui coule de sa tête percée,
Et cette langue peut-elle t'envoyer en enfer,
Elle qui a prié pour le pardon de la méchanceté féroce de ses ennemis ?
Non, non ; mais comme dans mon idolâtrie
Je l'ai dit à toutes mes maîtresses profanes,
La beauté montre la compassion, la laideur est seulement
Un signe de cruauté : aussi je te dis,
Aux esprits malfaisants d'horribles formes sont attribuées,
Cette forme pleine de beauté assure un esprit compatissant.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 126

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
6. Since she whom I lov'd [sung text checked 1 time]
Since she whom I lov'd hath pay'd her last debt
To Nature, and to hers, and my good is dead,
And her Soule early into Heaven ravished,
Wholly on heavenly things my mind is sett.
Here the admyring her my mind did whett
To seeke thee God; so streams do shew their head;
But though I have found thee and thou my thirst hast fed,
A holy thirsty dropsy melts mee yett,
But why should I begg more love, when as thou
Dost wooe my soul for hers: off'ring all thine:
And dost not only feare lest I allow
My love to Saints and Angels, things divine,
But in thy tender jealousy dost doubt
[Lest the world, Fleshe]1, yea, Devill putt thee out.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Hall: "Least in the world. Fleshe"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
6.
Depuis que celle que j'ai aimée a payé sa dernière dette
À la Nature, et aux siens, et que mon trésor est mort,
Et son âme tôt ravie dans les cieux,
Mon esprit est fixé complètement sur des choses célestes,
Ici mon esprit, qui l'admire, doit s'exercer
À chercher Dieu ; ainsi les rivières montrent leur tête ;
Mais bien que je t'aie trouvé et que tu aies assouvi ma soif,
Une hydropisie sainte et assoiffée me fait fondre encore,
Mais pourquoi devrais-je solliciter plus d'amour, quand comme toi
Mon âme se désole pour les siens : offrant tout le tien :
Et ne pas craindre seulement par peur que je permette
Mon amour pour les saints et les anges, divins objets,
Mais dans ta tendre jalousie, doute
Moins du monde, ma chair, le diable te met dehors.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 138

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
7. At the round earth's imagin'd corners [sung text checked 1 time]
At the round earth's imagined corners, blow 
Your trumpets, angels, and arise 
From death, you numberless infinities 
Of souls, and to your scattered bodies go,
All whom the flood did, and fire shall o'erthrow
All whom war, death, age, agues, tyrannies,
Despair, law, chance hath slain; and you whose eyes 
Shall behold God and never taste death's woe,
But let them sleep, Lord, and me mourn a space,
For, if above all these my sins abound,
'Tis late to ask abundance of Thy grace,
When we are there. Here on this lowly ground,
Teach me how to repent, for that's as good
As if [Thou hadst]1 seal'd my pardon with Thy blood.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Britten: "Thoud'st"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
7.
Aux coins imaginés de la terre ronde, soufflez
Dans vos trompettes, anges, et levez-vous, levez-vous
De la mort, infinités innombrables
D'âmes, et allez vers vos corps éparpillés,
Tous ceux que les flots ont vaincu et le feu vaincront
Tous ceux que la guerre, la disette, l'âge, les fièvres, les tyrannies,
Le désespoir, la loi, le sort, ont tué et vous dont les yeux
Verront Dieu et ne goûteront jamais le malheur de la mort.
Mais laisse-les dormir, Seigneur, et laiise-moi pleurer un moment
Car, si au-dessus de tous, mes péchés abondent,
C'est tard pour demander de ta grâce
Quand nous sommes là ; ici sur cette terre basse,
Apprends-moi comment me repentir ; car c'est aussi bien
Que si tu avais scellé mon pardon avec ton sang.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 127

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
8. Thou hast made me [sung text checked 1 time]
Thou hast made me, and shall thy work decay?
Repaire me now, for now mine end doth haste,
I runne to death, and death meets me as fast,
And all my pleasures are like yesterday;
I dare not move my dim eyes anyway,
Despaire behind, and death before doth cast
Such terror, and my feeble flesh doth waste
By sinne in it, which it t'wards Hell doth weigh;
Onely thou art above, and when t'wards thee
By thy leave I can looke, I rise againe;
But our old subtle foe so tempteth me,
That not one houre myselfe can I sustaine;
Thy Grace may wing me to prevent his art,
And thou like Adamant draw mine iron heart.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2011, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Daniel Johannsen) , copyright © 2020, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
8.
Tu m'as fait, et ton œuvre va tomber en ruines ?
Répare-moi maintenant, car maintenant ma fin se hâte,
Je cours vers la mort, et la mort vient vers moi aussi vite,
Et tous mes plaisirs sont comme hier ;
Je n'ose pas porter nulle part mes yeux faibles,
Le désespoir derrière, et la mort devant jettent
Une telle terreur, et ma chair faible se perd
En péché dans elle, qu'elle emporte vers l'enfer ;
Seulement toi es au-dessus et quand vers toi
Par ta permission je peux regarder, je monte à nouveau ;
Mais notre subtil vieil ennemi me tente,
De sorte que pas une heure je ne peux résister ;
Ta grâce peut voler vers moi pour empêcher son art,
Et toi tu peux rendre inébranlable mon cœur de fer.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 132

Translation © by Guy Laffaille
9. Death be not proud [sung text checked 1 time]
Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadfull, for thou art not soe,
For those whom thou think'st thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poore death, nor [yet canst thou]1 kill mee.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do goe,
Rest of their bones, and souls deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sickness dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well 
And better than thy stroake; why swell'st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

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1 Bennett: "nor canst thou yet"

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]
by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
9.
Mort ne soit pas fière, bien que certains t'ai appelée
Puissante et épouvantable, car tu n'es pas ainsi,
Car ceux que tu penses que tu dois vaincre,
Ne meurent pas, pauvre mort, et tu ne peux pas me tuer.
Du repos et du sommeil, qui ne sont que des images de toi,
On a beaucoup de plaisir ; alors de toi, beaucoup plus doit couler,
Et dès que nos meilleurs hommes vont avec toi,
Arrivent le repos de leurs os, et la délivrance de l'âme.
Tu es l'esclave du destin, du sort, des rois et des hommes désespérés,
Et tu demeures avec le poison, la guerre et la maladie,
Et le pavot, ou les charmes peuvent aussi bien nous faire dormir
Et mieux que ton coup ; pourquoi te gonfles-tu d'orgueil alors ?
Un court sommeil passé, nous sommes éveillés éternellement,
Et la mort ne sera plus ; Mort, tu mourras.

Authorship

  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2010 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.
    Contact: 

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2010-08-01
Line count: 14
Word count: 151

Translation © by Guy Laffaille