by James Joyce (1882 - 1941)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE GER
Gaunt in gloom
The pale stars their torches
Enshrouded wave. 
Ghostfires from heaven's far verges faint illume
Arches on soaring arches,
Night's sindark nave. 

The lost hosts awaken
To service till
In moonless gloom each lapses, muted, dim
Raised when she has and shaken
Her thurible. 

And long and loud
To night's nave upsoaring
A starknell tolls
As the bleak incense surges, cloud on cloud,
Voidward from the adoring
Waste of souls.

First published in Poetry, May 1917


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) (Guy Laffaille) , "Nocturne", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , "Nachtstück", copyright © 2014, (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: 18
Word count: 73

Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Décharnées dans l'obscurité
Les pâles étoiles ensevelies dans un linceul,
Agitent leurs torches.
Des feux fantomatiques des bords au loin du ciel illuminent faiblement,
Arches sur arches qui s'élancent,
La nef de la nuit.

Les armées perdues s'éveillent
Pour servir jusqu'à ce que
Dans l'obscurité sans lune chacun tombe muet, faible,
Quand elle a levé et secoué
Son encensoir.

Et loin et fort,
S'élanceant vers la nef de la nuit
Sonne un glas d'étoiles
Tandis que l'encens morne monte, nuage sur nuage,
Vers le vide de l'inutile
Adoration des âmes.


  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2009 by Guy Laffaille, (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: 2009-11-09
Line count: 18
Word count: 91