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

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!


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

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."


  • 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.

Based on:


This text was added to the website: 2017-08-11
Line count: 20
Word count: 130