by Jules Renard (1864 - 1910)
Translation © by Ahmed E. Ismail

Le martin‑pêcheur
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG FIN GER
Ça n'a pas mordu, ce soir,
mais je rapporte une rare émotion. 

Comme je tenais ma perche de ligne tendue, 
un martin-pêcheur est venu s'y poser.

Nous n'avons pas d'oiseau plus éclatant. 
Il semblait une grosse fleur bleue
au bout d'une longue tige. 
La perche pliait sous le poids.  
Je ne respirais plus, tout fier d'être pris 
pour un arbre par un martin-pêcheur.

Et je suis sûr qu'il ne s'est pas envolé de peur,
mais qu'il a cru qu'il ne faisait que passer
d'une branche à une autre.


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 (Ahmed E. Ismail) , "The kingfisher", copyright © 2005, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • FIN Finnish (Suomi) (Erkki Pullinen) , "Kuningaskalastaja", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Der Eisvogel", copyright © 2017, (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: 13
Word count: 88

The kingfisher
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Nothing bit this evening, 
but I felt once more a rare emotion. 

As I held my pole with line out, 
a kingfish landed on it. 

There is no more striking bird. 
It seemed like a giant blue flower 
at the end of a long stem. 
The pole bent under its weight. 
I dared not breathe, proud to have been taken 
for a tree by a kingfisher. 

And I was certain that he did not take off from fear, 
but because he believed he was only passing 
from one branch to another.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2005 by Ahmed E. Ismail, (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: 2005-09-22
Line count: 13
Word count: 91