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Songs

Chant d'automne

by Gabriel Fauré

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Text & Translation

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Chant d'automne (1857)
French source: Charles Baudelaire

Bientôt nous plongerons dans les froides ténèbres;
Adieu, vive clarté de nos étés trop courts!
J’entends déjà tomber avec un choc funèbre
Le bois retentissant sur le pavé des cours.

J’écoute en frémissant chaque bûche qui tombe;
L’échafaud qu’on bâtit n’a pas d’écho plus sourd.
Mon esprit est pareil à la tour qui succombe
Sous les coups du bélier infatigable et lourd.

Il me semble, bercé par ce choc monotone,
Qu’on cloue en grande hâte un cercueil quelque part.
Pour qui? – C’était hier l’été; voici l’automne!
Ce bruit mystérieux sonne comme un départ.

J’aime de vos longs yeux la lumière verdâtre,
Douce beauté, mais aujourd’hui tout m’est amer,
Et rien, ni votre amour, ni le boudoir, ni l’âtre,
Ne me vaut le soleil rayonnant sur la mer.

Autumn Song (2005)
English translation © Richard Stokes

Soon we shall plunge into cold shadows;
Farewell, vivid light of our too-short summers!
Already I hear the funereal thud
Of echoing logs on the courtyard floor.

I listen, trembling, to the fall of each log;
A gallows being built makes no duller sound.
My spirit is like the tower that falls
To the remorseless blows of the battering-ram.

Rocked by those monotone blows, it seems
Somewhere in haste they are nailing a coffin.
But whose? Yesterday summer; autumn now!
This eerie sound rings like some farewell.

I love the emerald glow of your wide eyes,
My sweet, but all today is bitter for me,
And nothing, not your love, the boudoir, or the hearth
Can compare with the sunlight on the sea.

Translations by Richard Stokes, author of The Book of Lieder (Faber, 2005)

Chant d'automne (1857)
French source: Charles Baudelaire

Autumn Song (2005)
English source: Richard Stokes

Bientôt nous plongerons dans les froides ténèbres;
Soon we shall plunge into cold shadows;
Adieu, vive clarté de nos étés trop courts!
Farewell, vivid light of our too-short summers!
J’entends déjà tomber avec un choc funèbre
Already I hear the funereal thud
Le bois retentissant sur le pavé des cours.
Of echoing logs on the courtyard floor.

J’écoute en frémissant chaque bûche qui tombe;
I listen, trembling, to the fall of each log;
L’échafaud qu’on bâtit n’a pas d’écho plus sourd.
A gallows being built makes no duller sound.
Mon esprit est pareil à la tour qui succombe
My spirit is like the tower that falls
Sous les coups du bélier infatigable et lourd.
To the remorseless blows of the battering-ram.

Il me semble, bercé par ce choc monotone,
Rocked by those monotone blows, it seems
Qu’on cloue en grande hâte un cercueil quelque part.
Somewhere in haste they are nailing a coffin.
Pour qui? – C’était hier l’été; voici l’automne!
But whose? Yesterday summer; autumn now!
Ce bruit mystérieux sonne comme un départ.
This eerie sound rings like some farewell.

J’aime de vos longs yeux la lumière verdâtre,
I love the emerald glow of your wide eyes,
Douce beauté, mais aujourd’hui tout m’est amer,
My sweet, but all today is bitter for me,
Et rien, ni votre amour, ni le boudoir, ni l’âtre,
And nothing, not your love, the boudoir, or the hearth
Ne me vaut le soleil rayonnant sur la mer.
Can compare with the sunlight on the sea.

Composer

Gabriel Fauré

  ​"Gabriel Urbain Fauré (12 May 1845 – 4 November 1924) was a French composer, organist, pianist and teacher. He was one of the foremost French composers of his generation, and his musical style influenced many 20th-century composers. Among his…

Poet

Charles Baudelaire

Charles Pierre Baudelaire was a French poet who also produced notable work as an essayist, art critic, and pioneering translator of Edgar Allan Poe. His most famous work, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), expresses the changing nature of…

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