by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

Whispers of heavenly death murmur'd I...
Language: English 
Available translation(s): CAT FRE
Whispers of heavenly death murmur'd I hear,
Labial gossip of night, sibilant chorals,
Footsteps gently ascending, mystical breezes wafted soft and low,
Ripples of unseen rivers, tides of a current flowing, forever flowing,
(Or is it the plashing of tears? the measureless waters of human tears?)

I see, just see skyward, great cloud-masses,
Mournfully slowly they roll, silently swelling and mixing,
With at times a half-dimm'd sadden'd far-off star,
Appearing and disappearing.

(Some parturition rather, some solemn immortal birth;
On the frontiers to eyes impenetrable,
Some soul is passing over.)

About the headline (FAQ)


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in French (Français), a translation by Léon Bazalgette (1873 - 1928) CAT ; composed by Eugene MacDonald Bonner.

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

  • CAT Catalan (Català) (Salvador Pila) , copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FRE French (Français) (Guy Laffaille) , copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ahmed E. Ismail

This text was added to the website: 2004-06-27
Line count: 12
Word count: 90

J'entends des chuchotements d'une mort...
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
J'entends des chuchotements d'une mort céleste murmurés,
Bavardage labial de la nuit, chorals sifflants,
Des pas qui montent doucement, brises mystiques qui flottent douces et basses,
Rides de rivières invisibles, flux d'un courant qui coule, qui coule éternellement,
(Ou est-ce le clapotis de larmes ? les eaux sans bornes des larmes humaines ?)

Je vois, je vois juste dans le ciel, de grandes masses de nuages,
Lugubrement ils déferlent lentement, en silence grossissant et se mêlant,
Avec par instants une étoile lointaine attristée, à moitié effacée,
Apparaissant et disparaissant.

(Plutôt un enfantement, une naissance solennelle et immortelle ;
Sur les frontières invisibles à l'œil,
Une âme s'éteint.)

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.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2015-07-27
Line count: 12
Word count: 107