by Victor Marie Hugo (1802 - 1885)
Translation © by Emily Ezust

La coccinelle
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): CHI ENG GER
Elle me dit: "Quelque chose
"Me tourmente." Et j'aperçus
Son cou de neige, et, dessus,
Un petit insecte rose.

J'aurais dû, - mais, sage ou fou,
A seize ans, on est farouche, -
Voir le baiser sur sa bouche
Plus que l'insecte à son cou.

On eût dit un coquillage;
Dos rose et taché de noir.
Les fauvettes pour nous voir
Se penchaient dans le feuillage.

Sa bouche fraîche était là;
[Je me courbai]1 sur la belle,
Et je pris la coccinelle;
Mais le baiser s'envola.

"Fils, apprends comme on me nomme,"
Dit l'insecte du ciel bleu,
"Les bêtes sont au bon Dieu;
"Mais la bêtise est à l'homme."

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bizet: "Hélas! Je me penchai"


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):

  • CHI Chinese (汉语 / 漢語) (Yen-Chiang Che) , title 1: "小瓢蟲", copyright © 2009, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Emily Ezust) , title 1: "The ladybug", copyright © 2016
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , title 1: "Der Marienkäfer", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 20
Word count: 109

The ladybug
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
She told me: "Something
Is bothering me." And I noticed
Her snow-white neck, and, upon it,
A small reddish insect.

I should have - but wise or mad,
At sixteen, one is timid --
I should have noticed the kiss on her mouth
More than the insect on her neck.

It looked like a shell,
Its back red and spattered with black.
To see us better, warblers
Stretched out their necks in the branches.

Her sweet mouth was there;
[I bent]1 over the beautiful girl,
And I removed the ladybug,
But the kiss flew away!

"Son, learn what they call me,"
The insect said from the blue sky,
"Animals belong to the Good Lord,
But Idiocy belongs to Man."

View original text (without footnotes)
1 Bizet: "Alas! I leaned"


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2016 by Emily Ezust

    Emily Ezust permits her translations to be reproduced without prior permission for printed (not online) programs to free-admission concerts only, provided the following credit is given:

    Translation copyright © by Emily Ezust,
    from the LiederNet Archive --

    For any other purpose, please write to the e-mail address below to request permission and discuss possible fees.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2016-09-29
Line count: 20
Word count: 118