by Armand Silvestre (1837 - 1901)
Translation © by Peter Low

La fée aux chansons
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Il était une fée,
[D'herbes folles]1 coiffée
Qui courait les buissons,
Sans s'y laisser surprendre,
En Avril, pour apprendre
Aux oiseaux leurs chansons.

Lorsque geais et linottes
Faisaient des fausses notes
En récitant leurs chants.
La Fée, avec constance,
Gourmandait d'importance
Ces élèves méchants.

Sa petite main nue,
D'un brin d'herbe menue
Cueilli dans les halliers,
Pour stimuler leurs zèles,
Fouettait sur leurs ailes
Ces mauvais écoliers.

Par un matin d'automne,
Elle vient et s'étonne,
De voir les bois déserts.
Avec les hirondelles,
Ses amis infidèles
Avaient fui [par]2 les airs.

Et, tout l'hiver, la fée,
D'herbe morte coiffée,
Et comptant les instants,
Sous les forêts immenses
Compose des romances
Pour le prochain printemps.

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Armand Silvestre, Les ailes d'or. Poésies nouvelles 1878-1880, Paris, G. Charpentier, 1880, pages 142-143.

1 Fauré: "D'herbe folle"
2 Fauré: "dans"


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

Another version of this text exists in the database.

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

  • ENG English (Peter Low) , "The Song Fairy", 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: 30
Word count: 114

The Song Fairy
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
 There once was a fairy
 with wild grass in her hair
 who ran round the woods
 (not letting anyone catch her)
 in April, to teach
 the birds their songs.
 When jays and linnets
 sang wrong notes
 in their melodies,
 the fairy, without fail,
 would severely rebuke
 these naughty pupils.
 Her little bare hand
 would pluck in the copses
 a blade of thin grass,
 and encourage the zeal
 of these slow learners
 by whipping their wings.
 One autumn morning
 she came and was shocked
 to see the woods deserted;
 her disloyal friends
 along with the swallows
 had taken to the air.
 All winter the fairy
 with dead grass in her hair,
 counting off the minutes
 in the vast forests,
 keeps composing new songs
 for the coming spring!


  • 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: 30
Word count: 127