Songs

Les berceaux

by Gabriel Fauré From Three Songs (1879) Op. 23

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Text & Translation

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Les berceaux
French source: Sully Prudhomme

Le long du quai les grands vaisseaux,
Que la houle incline en silence,
Ne prennent pas garde aux berceaux
Que la main des femmes balance.

Mais viendra le jour des adieux,
Car il faut que les femmes pleurent,
Et que les hommes curieux
Tentent les horizons qui leurrent.

Et ce jour-là les grands vaisseaux,
Fuyant le port qui diminue,
Sentent leur masse retenue
Par l’âme des lointains berceaux.

The cradles
English translation © Richard Stokes

Along the quay the great ships,
Listing silently with the surge,
Pay no heed to the cradles
Rocked by women’s hands.

But the day of parting will come,
For it is decreed that women shall weep,
And that men with questing spirits
Shall seek enticing horizons.

And on that day the great ships,
Leaving the dwindling harbour behind,
Shall feel their hulls held back
By the soul of the distant cradles.

Translations by Richard Stokes, from A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Les berceaux
French source: Sully Prudhomme

The cradles
English source: Richard Stokes

Le long du quai les grands vaisseaux,
Along the quay the great ships,
Que la houle incline en silence,
Listing silently with the surge,
Ne prennent pas garde aux berceaux
Pay no heed to the cradles
Que la main des femmes balance.
Rocked by women’s hands.

Mais viendra le jour des adieux,
But the day of parting will come,
Car il faut que les femmes pleurent,
For it is decreed that women shall weep,
Et que les hommes curieux
And that men with questing spirits
Tentent les horizons qui leurrent.
Shall seek enticing horizons.

Et ce jour-là les grands vaisseaux,
And on that day the great ships,
Fuyant le port qui diminue,
Leaving the dwindling harbour behind,
Sentent leur masse retenue
Shall feel their hulls held back
Par l’âme des lointains berceaux.
By the soul of the distant cradles.

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

Sully Prudhomme

René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme was a French poet and essayist, and was the first ever winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature, in 1901. Born in Paris, Prudhomme originally studied to be an engineer, but turned to philosophy and later to…

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