by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Peter Low

Chanson de pirates
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Nous emmenions en esclavage
Cent chrétiens, pêcheurs de corail ;
Nous recrutions pour le sérail
Dans tous les moûtiers du rivage.
En mer, les hardis écumeurs !
Nous allions de Fez à Catane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs. 1

On signale un couvent à terre.
Nous jetons l'ancre près du bord.
A nos yeux s'offre tout d'abord
[Une fille du monastère.
Prés des flots, sourde à leurs rumeurs,
Elle dormait sous un platane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.]2

- La belle fille, il faut vous taire,
Il faut nous suivre. Il fait bon vent.
Ce n'est que changer de couvent.
Le harem vaut le monastère.
Sa hautesse aime les primeurs,
Nous vous ferons mahométane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

Elle veut fuir vers sa chapelle.
- Osez-vous bien, fils de Satan ?
- Nous osons, dit le capitan.
Elle pleure, supplie, appelle.
[Malgré sa plainte et ses clameurs,
On l'emporta dans la tartane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.]2

Plus belle encor dans sa tristesse,
Ses yeux étaient deux talismans.
Elle valait mille tomans ;
On la vendit à sa hautesse.
Elle eut beau dire : Je me meurs !
De nonne elle devint sultane...
Dans la galère capitane
Nous étions quatre-vingts rameurs.

P. Curet sets stanzas 1-5
Oscar I sets stanza 1

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Oscar I adds, "Allah!"
2 omitted by Paul Puget.

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 (Peter Low) , "Pirate Song", copyright © 2022, (re)printed on this website with kind permission


Researcher for this text: Andrew Schneider [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2013-10-31
Line count: 40
Word count: 214

Pirate Song
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
We carried into slavery
a hundred Christians - coral fishers -
we took recruits for the harem
from all the nunneries of the coast.
Set sail, bold plunderers!
We went from Fez to Catania.
In the leading galley
we were eighty rowers.

Someone pointed out a convent on land.
We anchored near the shore.
The first thing we saw
was a girl from the convent.
Near the waves, deaf to their noise,
she was sleeping under a plane-tree...
In the leading galley
we were eighty rowers.

- Beautiful girl, you must keep silent,
and follow us. The wind is good.
You'll just be changing convents.
The harem is as good as the nunnery.
His highness likes fresh fruit.
We will make you a Muslim...
In the leading galley
we were eighty rowers.

She wanted to flee to her chapel.
- Sons of Satan, do you dare?
-_ We dare, said the captain.
She weeps, she begs, she calls out.
Despite her pleas and her clamour
she was carried into the boat...
In the leading galley
we were eighty rowers.

More beautiful still in her sadness,
her eyes were two talismans.
She was worth a thousand gold coins;
she was sold to his highness.
In vain she said: I am dying!
This nun became a sultana...
In the leading galley
we were eighty rowers.

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2022 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.
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This text was added to the website: 2022-09-05
Line count: 40
Word count: 223