by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Garrett Medlock

Clair de lune
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
La lune était sereine et jouait sur les flots. --
La fenêtre enfin libre est ouverte à la brise,
La sultane regarde, et la mer qui se brise,
Là-bas, d'un flot d'argent brode les noirs îlots.

De ses doigts en vibrant s'échappe la guitare.
Elle écoute... Un bruit sourd frappe les sourds échos.
Est-ce un lourd vaisseau turc qui vient des eaux de Cos,
Battant l'archipel grec de sa rame tartare ?

Sont-ce des cormorans qui plongent tour à tour,
Et coupent l'eau, qui roule en perles sur leur aile ?
Est-ce un djinn qui là-haut siffle d'un voix grêle,
Et jette dans la mer les créneaux de la tour ?

Qui trouble ainsi les flots près du sérail des femmes ? --
Ni le noir cormoran, sur la vague bercé,
Ni les pierres du mur, ni le bruit cadencé
Du lourd vaisseau, rampant sur l'onde avec des rames.

Ce sont des sacs pesants, d'où partent des sanglots.
On verrait, en sondant la mer qui les promène,
Se mouvoir dans leurs flancs comme une forme humaine... --
La lune était sereine et jouait sur les flots.

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 (Garrett Medlock) , "Moonlight", copyright © 2020, (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: 20
Word count: 183

Moonlight
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
The moon was calm and played upon the waters.--
The window, free at least, is open to the breeze,
The sultana watches, and the breaking sea,
Over there, embroiders the black islets with a swell of silver.

From her trembling fingers slips the guitar.
She listens… A muffled noise strikes dull echoes.
Is it a heavy Turkish ship coming from the waters of Kos,
Beating the Greek archipelago with its Tartar oar?

Are the cormorants diving by turns
And cleaving the water, which rolls in pearls on their wings?
Is it a genie up there who whistles with a thin voice
And throws the tower's battlements into the sea?

Who thus disturbs the waters near the seraglio of women?--
Neither the black cormorant cradled upon the wave,
Nor the stones of the wall, nor the rhythmic sound
Of heavy ships crawling on the wave with their oars.

They are the heavy sacks from which some sobs escape.
One may see, plumbing the sea which walks on above them,
[Something] moving in their sides like a human form…--
The moon was calm and played upon the waters.

Authorship

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2020 by Garrett Medlock, (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: 2020-11-25
Line count: 20
Word count: 186