by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Faith J. Cormier

À une jeune fille
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
Vous qui ne savez pas combien l'enfance est belle,
Enfant! n'enviez point notre âge de douleurs,
Où le coeur tour à tour est esclave et rebelle,
Où le rire est souvent plus triste que vos pleurs.

Votre âge insouciant est si doux qu'on l'oublie!
Il passe, comme un souffle au vaste champ des airs,
Comme une voix joyeuse en fuyant affaiblie,
Comme un alcyon sur les mers.

Oh! ne vous hâtez point de mûrir vos pensées !
Jouissez du matin, jouissez du printemps;
Vos heures sont des fleurs l'une à l'autre enlacées;
Ne les effeuillez pas plus vite que le temps.

Laissez venir les ans! le destin vous dévoue,
Comme nous, aux regrets, à la fausse amitié,
A ces maux sans espoir que l'orgueil désavoue,
A ces plaisirs qui font pitié!

Riez pourtant! du sort ignorez la puissance;
Riez! n'attristez pas votre front gracieux,
Votre oeil d'azur, miroir de paix et d'innocence,
Qui révèle votre âme et réfléchit les cieux!

Inscription preceding the poem:
    Pourquoi te plaindre, tendre fille? tes jours n'appartiennent-ils pas 
    à la première jeunesse? --DAÏNO LITHUANIEN.

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 (Faith J. Cormier) , "To a young maiden", copyright © 2002, (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: 160

To a young maiden
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
You who don't know how fair childhood is,
Child, don't envy our painful age
when the heart is in turn enslaved and rebellious
and laughter is often sadder than your tears.

Your carefree age is so sweet we forget it! 
It passes like a breath in the wide field of the air,
like a joyous voice weakened by distance, 
like a kingfisher on the waters. 

Oh! Don't hurry to ripen your thoughts! 
Enjoy the morning, enjoy the springtime. 
Your hours are a garland of flowers -
don't pluck off their leaves any faster than time.

Let the years come! Fate has destined you,
like us, to regrets and false friendships,
to these hopeless pains which pride refuses to admit,
to these pitiful pleasures.

Laugh instead! Ignore the power of fate!
Laugh! Don't sadden your graceful brow,
your azure eye, mirror of peace and innocence,
which reveals your soul and reflects the heavens!

Authorship:

  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2002 by Faith J. Cormier, (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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Based on:

 

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 152