by Pierre-Félix Louis (1870 - 1925), as Pierre Louÿs
Translation © by Marvin J. Ward

Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG GER
Une femme s'enveloppe de laine blanche. 
Une autre se vêt de soie et d'or. 
Une autre se couvre de fleurs, 
de feuilles vertes et de raisins.

Moi, je ne saurais vivre que nue. 
Mon amant, prends-moi comme je suis: 
sans robe ni bijoux ni sandales, 
voici Bilitis toute seule.

Mes cheveux sont noirs de leur noir 
et mes lèvres rouges de leur rouge. 
Mes boucles flottent autour de moi libres 
et rondes comme des plumes.

Prends-moi telle que ma mère m'a faite 
dans une nuit d'amour lointaine, 
et si je te plais ainsi, 
n'oublie pas de me le dire.


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 (Marvin J. Ward) , "Bilitis", copyright © 2003, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Bilitis", copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Marvin J. Ward

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 99

Language: English  after the French (Français) 
One woman envelops herself in white wool.
Another clothes herself in silk and gold.
Another covers herself in flowers, 
green leaves and grapes. 

I, I can only live naked. 
My lover, take me as I am: 
without dress or jewels or sandals, 
here is Bilitis alone. 

My hair is black with its blackness 
and my lips are red with their redness. 
My curls float around me free 
and round like feathers. 

Take me just as my mother made me 
in a night of love long ago, 
and if I am pleasing to you thus, 
do not forget to tell me so.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2003 by Marvin J. Ward, (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.

Based on:


This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 16
Word count: 101