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Sombre Pleasures • Sombres plaisirs
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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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Il serait plus viril et plus noble sans doute

De croiser sur son coeur ses bras las et meurtris,

Et de ne point pousser de lamentables cris

Comme un enfant perdu la nuit sur la grand’ route.

 

Il faudrait, ainsi qu’un cadavre qui dégoûte,

Enfouir son amour, en brûler les débris,

Et chanter au besoin, et crier qu’on est gris,

 

Et boire en souriant ses larmes goutte à goutte.

Mais on est solagé par les pleurs, les sanglots,

La rage folle. Ainsi vos mères, matelots,

Quand vous êtes noyès par la houle inhumaine,

 

Arrachent des galets au bord du gouffre amer,

Et, les jetant aux flots avec des cris de haine,

Apaisent leur douleur en outrageant la mer.

 

Jean Richepin

 

It would doubtless be nobler and more manly

To fold one’s tired and bruised arms across one’s heart

And not to let out pitiful cries

Like a child, lost in the night on the highway.

 

One should, as with a repulsive cadaver,

Bury one’s love, and burn its remains,

And sing if need be, and yell out that one is tipsy,

 

And, with a smile, drink one’s tears drop by drop.

But one finds relief in the tears and the weeping,

And the mad rage. In the same way - sailors - your mothers,

When you are drowned by the inhuman swell,

 

Tear up pebbles at the edge of the bitter whirlpool,

And, throwing them to the waves with cries of hatred,

Appease their suffering by outraging the sea.

 

Recorded 23 November 2007

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