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Les cloches • The Bells
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The English version presented below is a literal, word-for-word translation. It attempts to preserve the poet's word order as far as possible, for a better appreciation of the composer's musical treatment of individual words and phrases. Download track from iTunes. Corinne Orde & Jonathan Cohen - Fauré & Debussy: Bonne Chanson, Belle Époque


Les feuilles s'ouvraient sur le bord des branches,
Délicatement.
Les cloches tintaient, légères et franches,
Dans le ciel clément.

Rhythmique et fervent comme une antienne,
Ce lointain appel
Me remémorait la blancheur chrétienne
Des fleurs de l'autel.

 

Ces cloches parlaient d'heureuses années,
Et, dans le grand bois,
Semblaient reverdir les feuilles fanées,
Des jours d'autrefois.

 

Paul Bourget


The leaves opened on the edge of the branches,
Delicately.
The bells tolled, light and free,
In the clear sky.

Rhythmic and fervent, like an antiphon,
This distant calling
Reminded me of the Christian whiteness
Of the flowers on the altar.

 

Those bells spoke of happy years,
And, in the large forest,
They seemed to revive the withered leaves
Of days gone by.

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