Translation © by Amy Pfrimmer

Les papillons couleur de neige
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG ENG
Les papillons couleur de neige
Volent par essaims sur la mer ;
Beaux papillons blancs, quand pourrai-je
Prendre le bleu chemin de l'air ?

Savez-vous, ô belle des belles,
Ma bayadère aux yeux de jais,
S'ils me [pouvaient]1 prêter leurs ailes,
Dites, savez-vous où j'irais ?

Sans prendre un seul baiser aux roses,
À travers vallons et forêts,
J'irais à vos lèvres mi-closes,
Fleur de mon âme, et j'y mourrais.

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Note: this poem was titled "Pantoum" in L'Eldorado and Fortunio, and titled "Les papillons" in other editions.

1 in some settings, "voulaient"; we will add further information when we obtain it.


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

Settings in other languages, adaptations, or excerpts:

  • Also set in English, a translation possibly by Paul England (c1863 - c1932); composed by Percy Reeve.
  • Also set in English, a translation by H. D. Banning ; composed by Arturo Luzzatti.
  • Also set in English, a translation by Anonymous/Unidentified Artist ; composed by Bainbridge Crist.
  • Also set in English, a translation by Theophile Marzials (1850 - 1920) ; composed by Arthur Goring Thomas.
  • Also set in German (Deutsch), a translation by Karl Vollheim , "Ein Wunsch" ; composed by Gustav Hasse.
  • Also set in Italian (Italiano), a translation by Giuseppe Zaffira (flourished 1868-1886) ; composed by Émile Pessard.
  • Also set in Italian (Italiano), a translation by Angelo Zanardini (1820 - 1893) ; composed by Ettore Perosio, Francesco Paolo Tosti.

Other available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • CZE Czech (Čeština) (Jaroslav Vrchlický) , "Motýli"
  • ENG English (Peter Low) , no title, copyright © 2000, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Amy Pfrimmer) , copyright © 2020, (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: 12
Word count: 70

Butterflies the color of snow
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Butterflies the color of snow
Swarm over the sea;
Beautiful white butterflies, when could I 
Take the azure blue pathway of the air?

Do you know, o most beautiful of beauties
My bayadere with jet-black eyes
If they could lend me their wings,
Tell me, do you know where I would go?

Without taking a single kiss from the roses 
Through valleys and forests
I would go and land on your half-closed lips, 
Flower of my soul, and there I would die.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "Beaux papillons blancs" = "Beautiful white butterflies"

Translator's note for stanza 2 line 2 - "bayadere" = "dancer"


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2020 by Amy Pfrimmer, (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: 2020-02-29
Line count: 12
Word count: 82