by William Butler Yeats (1865 - 1939)
Translation © by Pierre Mathé

The cat and the moon
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon
The creeping cat looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For wander and wail as he would
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass,
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion,
A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

Confirmed with W. B. Yeats, Later Poems, Macmillan and Co., London, 1926, page 310.


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):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Le chat et la lune", copyright © 2015, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website: 2008-09-19
Line count: 28
Word count: 152

Le chat et la lune
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Le chat allait par-ci par-là
Et la lune tournoyait comme une toupie,
Et le plus proche parent de la lune,
Le chat rampant regardait en l'air.
Le noir Minnaloushe fixait la lune,
Car pour errer et gémir comme il voudrait
La lumière pure et froide du ciel
Troublait son sang animal.
Minnaloushe court dans l'herbe,
Levant son pied délicat.
Danses-tu,  Minnaloushe, danses-tu ?
Quand deux parents proches se rencontrent
Quoi de mieux qu'une invitation à danser ?
Peut-être la lune pourrait-elle apprendre,
Lassée de ces manières courtoises,
Un nouveau pas de danse.
Minnaloushe rampe dans l'herbe
De place en place éclairées par la lune,
Au dessus de sa tête la lune sacrée
Est entrée dans une nouvelle phase.
Minnaloushe sait-il que ses pupilles
Passent d'une forme à l'autre
Et que de rond à croissant,
De croissant à rond elles varient ?
Minnaloushe rampe dans l'herbe,
Seul, important et sage,
Et lève vers la lune changeante
Ses yeux changeants.


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2015 by Pierre Mathé, (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: 2015-12-29
Line count: 28
Word count: 158