by John Donne (1572 - 1631)
Translation © by Guy Laffaille

What if this present were the world's...
Language: English 
Available translation(s): FRE
What if this present were the world's last night?
Marke in my heart, O Soule, where thou dost dwell,
The picture of Christ crucified, and tell
Whether that countenance can thee affright,
Teares in his eyes quench the amazing light,
Blood fills his frownes, which from his pierc'd head fell.
And can that tongue adjudge thee into hell,
Which pray'd forgivenesse for his foes fierce spight?
No, no; but as in my Idolatrie
I said to all my profane mistresses,
Beauty, of pity, foulenesse onely is
A sign of rigour: so I say to thee,
To wicked spirits are horrid shapes assign'd,
This beauteous forme assures a piteous minde.

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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) , copyright © 2011, (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: 14
Word count: 109

Que faire si cette nuit était la...
Language: French (Français)  after the English 
Que faire si cette nuit était la dernière du monde ?
Marque dans mon cœur, ô mon âme, où tu demeures,
L'image du Christ cruxifié, et dis
Si ce visage peut te terrifier.
Les larmes dans ses yeux éteignent la lumière stupéfiante,
Ses sourcils sont pleins du sang qui coule de sa tête percée,
Et cette langue peut-elle t'envoyer en enfer,
Elle qui a prié pour le pardon de la méchanceté féroce de ses ennemis ?
Non, non ; mais comme dans mon idolâtrie
Je l'ai dit à toutes mes maîtresses profanes,
La beauté montre la compassion, la laideur est seulement
Un signe de cruauté : aussi je te dis,
Aux esprits malfaisants d'horribles formes sont attribuées,
Cette forme pleine de beauté assure un esprit compatissant.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2011 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.

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This text was added to the website: 2011-07-05
Line count: 14
Word count: 126