by Maurice Ravel (1875 - 1937)
Translation © by Laura Prichard

Noël des jouets
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG SPA
Le troupeau verni des moutons
Roule en tumulte vers la crêche
Les lapins tambours, brefs et rêches,
Couvrent leurs aigres mirlitons.
Vierge Marie, en crinoline.
Ses yeux d'émail sans cesse ouverts,
En attendant Bonhomme hiver
Veille Jésus qui se dodine
Car, près de là, sous un sapin,
Furtif, emmitoufflé dans l'ombre
Du bois, Belzébuth, le chien sombre,
Guette l'Enfant de sucre peint.
Mais les beaux anges incassables
Suspendus par des fils d'archal
Du haut de l'arbuste hiémal
Assurent la paix des étables.
Et leur vol de clinquant vermeil
Qui cliquette en bruits symétriques
S'accorde au bétail mécanique
Dont la voix grêle bêle:
"Noêl! Noêl! Noêl!"


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):

  • SPA Spanish (Español) (Victor Torres) , title 1: "Navidad de los juguetes", copyright © 2010, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , title 1: "Noël of the toys", copyright © 2013, (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: 21
Word count: 105

Noël of the toys
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
The hand-varnished flock of sheep
Rolls in a sudden burst of noise toward the crêche.
The rabbit drummers, staccato and uneven,
Cover up their [the sheep's] shrill mirlitons1.
The Virgin Mary, in crinoline2,
Her enamel eyes unceasingly open,
Waiting for Old Man Winter,
Keeping watch over Jesus in the rocker.
Because nearby, below a fir tree,
Furtive, swaddled in the shadow
Of the wood, Belzébuth, the dark-colored dog,
Is on the lookout for the Child made of hand-painted fondant.
But the beautiful, shatterproof angels
Suspended by brass wires
From the top of the winter garlands
Ensure the peace of the stable.
And their wings of glittery bronze
Jingle in symmetrical noises,
In time with the mechanical cattle
Whose voices bleat like little hailstones:
"Noêl! Noêl! Noêl!"

View original text (without footnotes)
1 mirliton = also called flûte à l'oignon. A noisy children's musical toy of the Baroque period, simlar to a kazoo. It was usually made of a wooden tune flaring at the end and closed by means of a fine membrane, similar to onion skin.
2 A structured formal dress, usually supposed by hoops, that developed from the stiff petticoats worn by 19th-century ladies. In Ravel's time, the crinoline was the subject of much ridicule and satire in Punch magazine.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2013 by Laura Prichard, (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: 2013-06-09
Line count: 21
Word count: 126