by Anonymous / Unidentified Author and possibly by Orlando Gibbons (1583 - 1625) and sometimes misattributed to Thomas Morley (1557 - 1602)
Translation © by Dwain Richardson

The silver swan who, living, had no note
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
The silver swan who, living, had no note,
when death approached, unlocked her silent throat.

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,
thus sung her first and last, and sung no more:

"Farewell all joys, O death come close [mine]1 eyes.
More geese than swans now live, more fools than wise."

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bachlund, Baxter, Rorem: "my"


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):

  • FRE French (Français) (Dwain Richardson) , "Le cygne argenté", copyright © 2003, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Martin Stock) , "Der Silberschwan", 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: 6
Word count: 51

Le cygne argenté
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Le cygne argenté, qui, vivant, n'a eu aucune note
Quand la mort s'est approchée et a ouvert sa gorge silencieuse.

A la rive couverte de roseaux, elle a penché son sein et a chanté sa première
et dernière note, puis elle n'a plus chanté: 

Adieu, toutes les joies, Ô, la mort, ferme mes yeux;
Vivent plus d'oies que de cygnes, plus de fous que de sages.


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2003 by Dwain Richardson, (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: 6
Word count: 66