by Edmond Rostand (1868 - 1918)
Translation © by Peter Low

Ballade des gros dindons
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Les gros dindons, à travers champs,
D'un pas solennel et tranquille,
Par les matins, par les couchants,
Bêtement marchent à la file,
Devant la pastoure qui file,
En fredonnant de vieux fredons,
Vont en procession docile
Les gros dindons!

Ils vous ont l'air de gros marchands
Remplis d'une morgue imbécile,
De baillis rogues et méchants
Vous regardant d'un œil hostile;
Leur rouge pendeloque oscille;
Ils semblent, parmi les chardons,
Gravement tenir un concile,
Les gros dindons!

N'ayant jamais trouvé touchants
Les sons que le rossignol file,
Ils suivent, lourds et trébuchants,
L'un d'eux, digne comme un édile;
Et, lorsqu'au lointain campanile
L'angélus fait ses lents din! dons!
Ils regagnent leur domicile,
Les gros dindons!

Prud'hommes gras, leurs seuls penchants
Sont vers le pratique et l'utile,
Pour eux, l'amour et les doux chants
Sont un passe-temps trop futile;
Bourgeois de la gent volatile,
Arrondissant de noirs bedons,
Ils se fichent de toute idylle,
Les gros dindons!


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English [singable] (Peter Low) , title 1: "The ballad of the plump turkeys", copyright © 2001, (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: 32
Word count: 155

The ballad of the plump turkeys
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
 Across the fields the turkey-cocks
 process like a grave delegation,
 along the stream, beside the rocks,
 in a follow-the-lead formation.
 A woman of lowly station,
 spinning and humming, idly looks
 at their dimwitted resignation,
 les gros dindons.
 They plod like pompous auctioneers
 attired in dumb ostentation,
 or portly bailiffs, proud and mean,
 who observe you with accusation.
 Their red wattles' oscillation
 brushes the thistles where they seem
 to be holding a convocation,
 les gros dindons.
 From them the nightingale's fine talk
 wins never the least acclamation;
 they stumble on behind the cock
 with the weightiest reputation.
 And when the church-bells' vibration
 rings from behind the village clock
 they return to their habitation,
 les gros dindons.
 A life that's useful, gross and gruff
 expresses their whole aspiration.
 For them the pretty songs of love
 are too futile an occupation.
 The fattest bourgeois in creation,
 they couldn't ever give a stuff
 for romance or imagination,
 les gros dindons.


  • Singable translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2001 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 between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 32
Word count: 157