by Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

Maundy Thursday
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
Between the brown hands of a server-lad 
The silver cross was offered to be kissed. 
The men came up, lugubrious, but not sad, 
And knelt reluctantly, half-prejudiced. 
(And kissing, kissed the emblem of a creed.) 
Then mourning women knelt; meek mouths they had, 
(And kissed the Body of the Christ indeed.) 
Young children came, with eager lips and glad. 
(These kissed a silver doll, immensely bright.) 
Then I, too, knelt before that acolyte. 
Above the crucifix I bent my head: 
The Christ was thin, and cold, and very dead: 
And yet I bowed, yea, kissed -- my lips did cling. 
(I kissed the warm live hand that held the thing.)


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) (Guy Laffaille) , "Jeudi saint", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Guy Laffaille [Guest Editor]

Text added to the website: 2008-08-15 00:00:00
Last modified: 2017-11-14 03:22:18
Line count: 14
Word count: 109

Jeudi saint
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Dans les mains brunes d'un jeune servant
La croix d'argent était présentée pour être baisée.
Les hommes s'avançaient, lugubres, mais pas tristes,
S'agenouillaient à contrecœur, à moitié pleins de préjugés.
(Et embrassant, embrassaient l'emblème du credo.)
Puis les femmes en deuil s'agenouillaient ; elles avaient la bouche douce,
(Et embrassaient le Corps du Christ vraiment.)
De jeunes enfants s'avançaient, avec les lèvres avides et heureux
(Ils embrassaient une poupée d'argent, immensément brillante.)
Puis moi aussi, je m'agenouillais devant cet acolyte.
Au-dessus du crucifix, je penchais ma tête :
Le Christ était mince, et froid et très mort :
Et pourtant je m'inclinais, oui, embrassais -- mes lèvres se collaient.
(J'embrassais la main vivante et tiède qui tenait la chose.)


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2017 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


Text added to the website: 2017-11-14 00:00:00
Last modified: 2017-11-14 03:35:09
Line count: 14
Word count: 118