by Laurent Tailhade (1854 - 1919)
Translation © by Charles Hopkins (1952 - 2007)

Hymne à Aphrodite
Language: French (Français) 
Aphrodite, déesse immortelle aux beaux rires,
Qui te plais aux chansons lugubres des ramiers,
Les cœurs humains pour toi chantent comme des lyres
Et tes bras font pâlir la blancheur des pommiers.

Salut, dispensatrice auguste de la vie,
Qui courbes sous ton joug les fauves indomptés,
Qui fais voler la lèvre à la lèvre ravie,
Salut, blanche Cypris, reine des voluptés !

C’est par toi que, le soir, sous les myrtes propices,
S’enlacent doucement des groupes bienheureux,
Et qu’au bord des ruisseaux et près des précipices
Sanglotent dans la nuit les enfants amoureux.

C’est par toi que, brûlant d’ivresse, frémissante,
L’églantine se teint de son sang parfumé,
Et que la vierge apporte, heureuse et rougissante,
Sa couronne et son cœur aux bras du bien-aimé.

Et c’est toi qui, rythmant les divines étoiles,
Fais [tressaillir]1 d’amour le cœur de l’univers,
Afin que l’harmonie en qui tu te dévoiles,
Apprenne aux hommes purs à composer des vers.

Je t’implore, déesse immense et vénérable,
Soit que, glorifiant les rosiers rajeunis,
Sous les lilas en fleurs et les bosquets d’érable
Tu couvres de baisers les songes d’Adonis ;

Soit que le dur Arès t’enchaîne à sa victoire,
Ou que, domptant les flots, ô mère des amours,
Les Cyclades en fleurs écoutent ton histoire :
Mon encens à tes pieds s’exhalera toujours.

Garde-moi de l’ennui, de la vieillesse immonde,
Garde-moi, si jamais l’espoir toucha ton cœur,
Ô reine qui maintiens et gouvernes le monde.
Avant tout, garde-moi de l’infâme laideur !

Fais que je tombe dans ma force et ma jeunesse,
Que mon dernier soupir ait un puissant écho,
Et, pour qu’un jour mon âme en plein soleil renaisse,
Que je meure d’amour comme Ovide et Sapho.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Le jardin des rêves, “Poèmes et bas-reliefs”, Paris, Alphonse Lemerre, Éditeur, pages 143-145.

1 misspelled in source as "tressailir"

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 (Charles Hopkins) , "Hymn to Aphrodite", written 2002, first published 2002, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Charles Hopkins) , "Hymne à Aphrodite", written c2005, copyright ©, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2018-07-29
Line count: 36
Word count: 282

Hymne à Aphrodite
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Aphrodite, immortal goddess of joyous laughter,
who takes pleasure in the mournful songs of the woodpigeon,
the hearts of men sing for you like lyres,
while your arms make even the whiteness of the apple-tree grow pale.

Hail[!], August dispenser of life,
beneath whose yoke the wild beasts submit,
who makes lip fly to lip in ecstasy.
Hail[!] Pale Cypris, queen of sensual delights!

It is through you that, in the evening, under the propitious myrtle,
blissful bands fall gently into the embrace of each other’s arms,
and that beside streams and at the cliff’s edge,
young lovers sob in the night.

It is through you that, burning with rapture, quivering,
the wild rose covers itself in the perfumed blood of its dye,
and that the virgin, blushing with happiness,
brings her crown and her heart to the arms of her beloved.

It is you who, in imparting rhythm to the stars in the heavens,
causes the heart of the universe to flutter with love,
so that the harmony in which you reveal yourself
may show men of pure heart how to compose verses.
 
I beseech you, mighty and venerable goddess,
may it be that, as you glorify the burgeoning rosebush,
under the flowering lilac tree and in the maple groves,
you smother the dreams of Adonis with kisses;

May it be that harsh Ares chain you to his victory,
or that, subduing the waves, O mother of loves,
the Cyclades in bloom may hear your story:
My incense will always rise up to your feet.

Protect me from boredom, from the squalor of old age,
protect me, if ever hope touched your heart,
O queen who supports and governs the world,
before all else, protect me from loathsome ugliness!

Ensure that I fall while I still have my strength and my youth,
that my dying gasp has a powerful resonance,
and, so that one day my soul may be born again bathed in glorious sunlight,
that, like Ovid and Sappho, I may die of love.

Confirmed with an original Microsoft Word Document provided by Alistair Hinton. Hopkins does not indicate an English title for this translation. The title of the 2002 translation of the text is "Hymn to Aphrodite."

Note: we have added a line break in the third line of the last stanza to make the lines line up with the original.

Authorship

Based on

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

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Another version of this text exists in the database.


Researcher for this text: Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2018-08-03
Line count: 36
Word count: 336