by Henri Cazalis (1840 - 1909), as Jean Lahor
Translation © by Emily Ezust

Danse macabre
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG ENG GER RUS
Zig et zig et zig, la mort en cadence
Frappant une tombe avec son talon,
La mort à minuit joue un air de danse,
Zig et zig et zag, sur son violon.

Le vent d'hiver souffle, et la nuit est sombre,
Des gémissements sortent des tilleuls;
Les squelettes blancs vont à travers l'ombre
Courant et sautant sous leurs grands linceuls,

Zig et zig et zig, chacun se trémousse,
On entend claquer les os des danseurs,
Un couple lascif s'asseoit sur la mousse
Comme pour goûter d'anciennes douceurs.

Zig et zig et zag, la mort continue
De racler sans fin son aigre instrument.
Un voile est tombé! La danseuse est nue!
Son danseur la serre amoureusement.

La dame est, dit-on, marquise ou baronne.
Et le vert galant un pauvre charron -
Horreur! Et voilà qu'elle s'abandonne
Comme si le rustre était un baron!

Zig et zig et zig, quelle sarabande!
Quels cercles de morts se donnant la main!
Zig et zig et zag, on voit dans la bande
Le roi gambader auprès du vilain!

Mais psit! tout à coup on quitte la ronde,
On se pousse, on fuit, le coq a chanté
Oh! La belle nuit pour le pauvre monde!
Et vive la mort et l'égalité!


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 (Emily Ezust) , title 1: "Dance of Death", copyright © 2016
  • ENG English [singable] (Peter Low) , title 1: "Dance of Death", copyright © 2008, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • GER German (Deutsch) (Bertram Kottmann) , title 1: "Totentanz", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission
  • RUS Russian (Русский) (Elena Kalinina) , title 1: "Пляска смерти", copyright © 2016, (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: 28
Word count: 205

Dance of Death
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
Zig and zig and zig, Death rhythmically
Taps upon a tomb with his heel;
Death at midnight plays a dance air,
Zig and zig and zig on his violin.

The winter wind blows and the night is gloomy,
Groaning comes from the lime trees;
White skeletons move through the shadows,
Running and jumping under their large shrouds.

Zig and zig and zig, everyone is moving,
We hear the bones of the dancers banging,
A lascivious couple sits upon the moss
As if to taste ancient pleasures again.

Zig and zig and zag, Death continues,
Scraping without end his harsh-sounding violin.
A veil has fallen! The dancer is nude!
Her partner squeezes her amorously.

The lady is said to be a marchioness or baroness,
And the crude gallant a poor cartwright --
Horrors! And look, she gives herself to him
As though the churl were a baron!

Zig and zig and zig, what a saraband!
What circles of the dead, all holding hands!
Zig and zig and zag, we see in the crowd
King frolicking with peasant!

But shh! Suddenly the dance is over,
one pushes, one takes flight: the rooster has crowed; 
Oh! A beautiful night for the poor world!
And long live Death and Equality!


  • 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: 2016-10-09
Line count: 28
Word count: 205