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Remembrance • Souvenir
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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.

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Bien souvent je ne pense à rien, comme une bête,

Soudain un mot bourdonne et passe dans ma tête,

Mot jadis entendu,

Un de ceds mots de rien où vivait tout ton être;

Et je sens mille échos de mon passé renaître

Dans cet écho perdu.

 

Je me souviens de l’an, du mois, du jour, de l’heure,

Et je ferme les yeux sans rien dire, et je pleure.

Car dans ce mot en l’air

J’entends toutes les voix de ma jeunesse heureuse,

Comme on entend au fond d’une coquille creuse

Chanter toute la mer.

 

Jean Richepin

 

Often I think of nothing, like some dumb creature.

Suddenly a word buzzes and goes through my head,

A word heard long ago,

One of those insignificant words in which your whole being dwelt;

And I sense the rebirth of a thousand echoes of my past

In that lost echo.

 

I remember the year, the month, the day, the hour,

And I close my eyes without saying anything, and I weep.

For in that idle word

I hear all the voices of my happy youth

As one hears, at the bottom of a hollow shell,

The whole sea singing.

 

Recorded 19 October 2007

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