Translation © by Emily Ezust

Connaissez‑vous la blanche tombe
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): DUT ENG ENG GER ITA SPA
Connaissez-vous la blanche tombe,
Où flotte avec un son plaintif
  L'ombre d'un if ?
Sur l'if une pâle colombe,
Triste et seule au soleil couchant,
  Chante son chant :

Un air maladivement tendre,
À la fois charmant et fatal,
  Qui vous fait mal,
Et qu'on voudrait toujours entendre ;
Un air, comme en soupire aux cieux
  L'ange amoureux. 

On dirait que l'âme éveillée
Pleure sous terre à l'unisson
  De la chanson,
Et du malheur d'être oubliée
Se plaint dans un roucoulement
  Bien doucement.

Sur les ailes de la musique
On sent lentement revenir
  Un souvenir;
Une [ombre de forme]1 angélique,
Passe dans un rayon tremblant,
  En voile blanc.

Les belles-de-nuit demi-closes,
Jettent leur parfum faible et doux
  Autour de vous,
Et le fantôme aux molles poses
Murmure en vous tendant les bras:
  « Tu reviendras ? »

Oh! jamais plus, près de la tombe,
Je n'irai, quand descend le soir
  Au manteau noir,
Écouter la pâle colombe
Chanter sur la [branche]2 de l'if
  Son chant plaintif !

H. Duparc sets stanzas 1, 3, 6
P. Hersant sets stanza 4
E. de Polignac sets stanzas 1-5

About the headline (FAQ)

View original text (without footnotes)

Confirmed with Théophile Gauthier, La comédie de la mort, Desessart editeur, Paris, 1838, page 305.

1 Berlioz: "ombre, une forme"
2 Duparc, Berlioz: "pointe"


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:

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

  • DUT Dutch (Nederlands) (Marike Lindhout) , "Lamento", copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , "Lament", copyright ©
  • ENG English (Kyle Gee) , "Lament", copyright © 2012, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , copyright © 2018, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ITA Italian (Italiano) (Ferdinando Albeggiani) , copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Alberto Bonati) , copyright © 2007, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Research team for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator] , Pierre Mathé [Guest Editor]

This text was added to the website: 2003-10-20
Line count: 36
Word count: 167

Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Do you know the white tomb
Where floats with plaintive sound,
The shadow of a yew?
On the yew a pale dove,
Sad and alone under the setting sun,
Sings its song:

An air sickly tender,
At the same time charming and ominous,
Which makes you feel agony
Yet which you wish to hear always;
An air like a sigh from the heavens
of a love-lorn angel. 

One would say that an awakened soul
Is weeping under the earth in unison
With this song,
And from the misfortune of being forgotten,
Moans its sorrow in a cooing
Quite soft.

On the wings of the music
One feels the slow return
Of a memory.
A shadow, a form angelic,
Passes in a trembling ray of light,
In a white veil.

The beautiful flowers of the night, half-closed,
Send their perfume, faint and sweet,
Around you,
And the phantom of soft form
Murmurs, reaching to you her arms:
You will return!

Oh! never again near the tomb
Shall I go, when night lets fall
Its black mantle,
To hear the pale dove
Sing on the limb of the yew
Its plaintive song!

Berlioz's title could be translated "At the cemetery" or "To the cemetery"


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive --

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2003-10-20
Line count: 36
Word count: 190