by Marceline Desbordes-Valmore (1786 - 1859)
Translation © by Ahmed E. Ismail

Si l'enfant sommeille
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Si l'enfant sommeille,
Il verra l'abeille,
Quand elle aura fait son miel,
Danser entre terre et ciel.

Sie l'enfant repose,
Un ange tout rose,
Que la nuit seule on peut voir,
Viendra lui dire: »bonsoir!«

Si mon enfant m'aime,
Dieu dira lui même:
J'aime cet enfant qui dort:
Qu'on lui porte un rêve d'or.

Mettez lui des aîles,
Comme aux tourterelles
Pour venir dans mon soleil
Danser, danser jusqu'à son réveil.

Fermez ses paupières,
Et sur ses prières,
De mes jardins pleins de fleurs
Faites glisser les couleurs.

Mais je veux qu'il dorme,
Et qu'il se conforme
Au silence des oiseaux
Couchés parmi les roseaux!

Car si l'enfant pleure,
On entendra l'heure
Tinter partout qu'un enfant
A fait ce que Dieu défend.

L'écho de la rue,
Au bruit accourue,
Quand l'heure aura soupiré,
Dira: »d'enfant a pleuré!«

Et sa tendre mère,
Dans sa nuit amère,
Pour son ingrat nourisson
Ne saura plus hélas! de chanson.

Si l'enfant est sage,
Sur son doux visage
La Vierge se penchera,
Et longtemps lui parlera.

About the headline (FAQ)

First published in Le musée des familles, August 1835.


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, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Ahmed E. Ismail) , title 1: "Cradle song after an old air", copyright © 2007, (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: 40
Word count: 171

Cradle song after an old air
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
If the child naps,
He will see the bee,
Having made her honey,
Dance between heaven and earth.

If the child lies down,
An angel, all in red,
Whom one can see only at night,
Will come to tell him: "Good evening!"

If my child loves me,
God will say so himself:
I love this sleeping child:
Let him be given a golden dream.

Give him wings,
Like the turtledoves'
That he may come with my sun
To dance, to dance until he wakes.

Close his eyelids
And over his prayers
From my gardens full of flowers
Let glide the colors.

But I want him to sleep
And to respect
The silence of the birds
Sleeping among the roses!

For if the child cries,
One will hear the clocks
Chime everywhere that a child
Has done what God has forbidden.

The echo in the street,
Rushing at the noise,
After the clock has sighed,
Will say: "A child has cried!"

And his tender mother,
Will lie awake and bitter in the night
For her ungrateful child
Will alas know the song no more.

If the child is well-behaved
Toward his sweet face
The Virgin will bend down hers
And speak to him for a long time.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2007 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: 2007-09-19
Line count: 40
Word count: 206