possibly by William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

On a day ‑‑ alack the day!
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
On a day -- alack the day! --
Love, whose month is ever May,
Spied a blossom passing fair
Playing in the wanton air:
Through the velvet leaves the wind,
All unseen, can passage find;
That the lover, sick to death,
Wish himself the heaven's breath.
Air, quoth he, thy cheeks may blow;
Air, would I might triumph so!
But, alack, my hand is sworn
Ne'er to pluck thee from thy thorn;
Vow, alack, for youth unmeet,
Youth so apt to pluck a sweet!
Do not call it sin in me,
That I am forsworn for thee;
Thou for whom Jove would swear
Juno but an Ethiope were;
And deny himself for Jove,
Turning mortal for thy love.
[This will I send, and something else more plain,
That shall express my true love's fasting pain.
O, would the king, Biron, and Longaville,
Were lovers too! Ill, to example ill,
Would from my forehead wipe a perjured note;
For none offend where all alike do dote.]1

About the headline (FAQ)

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1 omitted by Parry.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Set in a modified version by Daniel Ruyneman.

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

  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2011-06-27
Line count: 26
Word count: 163

Un jour (hélas ! jour funeste !)
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Un jour (hélas ! jour funeste !)
L’Amour, dont le mois est un mai éternel,
Découvrit une fleur ravissante
Se jouant dans l’air voluptueux :
Entre ses pétales veloutées la brise,
Invisible, se frayait un passage ;
Si bien que l’amoureux, malade à mourir,
Se prit à envier cette haleine du ciel.
Brise, dit-il, tu peux t’épancher à plein souffle  ;
Brise, que ne puis-je triompher comme toi !
Mais, hélas ! ma main a juré, 6 rose,
De ne jamais te cueillir à ton épine !
Serment, hélas ! bien dur pour la jeunesse
Qui aime tant à cueillir les senteurs !
Ne m’accuse pas d’un péché
Si je me parjure pour toi,
Toi près de qui Jupiter jurerait
Que Junon n’est qu’une Éthiopienne,
Toi pour qui, voulant se faire mortel,
Il nierait être Jupiter !
Je vais envoyer ceci, avec quelque chose de plus cîair,
pour exprimer la douleur sincère de mon famélique amour !
Oh ! plût au ciel que le roi, Biron et Longueville
fussent amoureux aussi ! Leur faute, servant d’exemple à ma faute,
effacerait de mon front le stigmate du parjure.
Nul, en effet, n’a tort quand tous radotent.

About the headline (FAQ)


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 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: 2015-07-27
Line count: 26
Word count: 195