Le tombeau des Naiades •
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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

Le long du bois couvert de givre, je marchais;
Mes cheveux devant ma bouche
Se fleurissaient de petits glaçons,
Et mes sandales étaient lourdes
De neige fangeuse et tassée.


Il me dit: “Que cherches-tu?”
Je suis la trace du satyre.
Ses petits pas fourchus alternent
Comme des trous dans un manteau blanc.

Il me dit: “Les satyres sont morts.

Les satyres et les nymphes aussi.
Depuis trente ans, il n’a pas fait un hiver aussi terrible.

La trace que tu vois est celle d’un bouc.
Mais restons ici, où est leur tombeau.”

Et avec le fer de sa houe il cassa la glace
De la source ou jadis riaient les naïades.

Il prenait de grands morceaux froids,
Et les soulevant vers le ciel pâle,
Il regardait au travers.


Pierre Louÿs

Along the frost-covered woods I was walking;
My hair, in front of my mouth,
Blossomed in tiny icicles,
And my sandals were heavy
With muddy and caked snow.


He said to me: “What are you looking for?”
“I’m following the tracks of the satyr:
His little cloven hoofprints alternate
Like holes in a white mantle.”

He said to me: “The satyrs are dead.

The satyrs and the nymphs too.
In thirty years there has not been such a terrible winter.

The tracks that you see there are those of a buck.
But let’s pause here, where their tomb is.”

And with the blade of his hoe he broke the ice
Of the spring where the water-nymphs used to laugh.

He was picking up large cold pieces [of ice],
And, lifting them towards the pale sky,
He was peering through them.