by Philippe Gille (1831 - 1901)
Translation © by Peter Low

Pastel
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
C'est un portrait de jeune fille,
On l'a fait au siècle passé,
Les ans l'ont à peine effacé!
Ce regard où son âme brille
Est innocent et curieux,
Me dit ces mots mystérieux:
Ne cherche pas ce qu'on peut lire
Dans mes yeux bleus couleur du temps,
Et n'y vois rien que le sourire
Qui t'attendait depuis cent ans.

À quoi cette enfant pensait-elle,
Quand le peintre la regardait?
Son coeur avait-il un secret?
Sur sa bouche on voit un sourire,
Est-ce ironie, est-ce bonheur?
Que dit-il sous cet air railleur?
Il dit, je crois: à quoi bon lire
Dans les feuillets noircis du temps?
Vois-y seulement le sourire,
Qui t'attendait depuis cent ans!

Authorship:

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 (Peter Low) , "Pastel", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 114

Pastel
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
It is the portrait of a girl,
done during last century,
which the years have barely faded!
Her soul shines through in her gaze,
which is innocent and inquisitive
and speaks these mysterious words:
"Don't search for any message
in my eyes as blue as time.
See in them only the smile
that has awaited you for a hundred years."
 
What was in that child's thoughts
while the artist was looking at her?
Did her heart hold a secret?
On her mouth one sees a smile -
is it irony, is it happiness?
What is it saying behind that hint of mockery?
It says, I think: "Why try to read
in the blackened pages of time?
See in them only the smile
that has awaited you for a hundred years."

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2017 by Peter Low, (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: 2017-08-11
Line count: 20
Word count: 130