by Paul Verlaine (1844 - 1896)
Translation © by Peter Low

Elle jouait avec sa chatte
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG GER
Elle jouait avec sa chatte,
Et c'était merveille de voir
La main blanche et la blanche patte
S'ébattre dans l'ombre du soir.

Elle cachait — la scélérate ! —
Sous ses mitaines de fil noir
Ses meurtriers ongles d'agate,
Coupants et clairs comme un rasoir.

L'autre aussi faisait la sucrée
Et rentrait sa griffe acérée,
Mais le diable n'y perdait rien...

Et dans le boudoir où, sonore,
Tintait son rire aérien
Brillaient quatre points de phosphore.

About the headline (FAQ)

Confirmed with Paul Verlaine, Poëmes saturniens, Paris: Alphonse Lemerre, 1866, pages 65-66.


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 German (Deutsch), a translation by Serge Bortkiewicz (1877 - 1952) , "Die Frau und die Katze" ; composed by Serge Bortkiewicz.

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

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , copyright © 2021, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Bergen Weeks Applegate) , "Woman and Cat", appears in Poems Saturnine, in 4. Caprices, no. 1
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Pierre Mathé) , copyright © 2013, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Poom Andrew Pipatjarasgit [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2008-10-23
Line count: 14
Word count: 76

She was playing with her cat
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
She was playing with her cat
and it was a marvel to see
the white hand and the white paw
fighting in fun in the evening shade.
Inside her black cotton mitten
she was hiding - the scoundrel! -
her murderous nails of agate,
cutting and clear like a razor.
The other one, likewise feigning sweetness,
had retracted her steely claws...
But the devil saw it all...
And in the boudoir, where his floating
and sonorous laughter rang out,
four points of phosphorus were shining.

About the headline (FAQ)

Translation of title "Femme et chatte" = "Woman and She-Cat"


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2021 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: 2021-03-12
Line count: 14
Word count: 85