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The sound of the horn•
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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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Le son du cor s'afflige vers les bois,

D'une douleur on veut croire orpheline

Qui vient mourir au bas de la colline,

Parmi la bise errant en courts abois.

 

L'âme du loup pleure dans cette voix,

Qui monte avec le soleil, qui décline

D'une agonie on veut croire câline,

Et qui ravit et qui navre à la fois.

 

Pour faire mieux cette plainte assoupie,

La neige tombe à longs traits de charpie

A travers le couchant sanguinolent,

Et l'air a l'air d'être un soupir d'automne,

Tant il fait doux par ce soir monotone,

Où se dorlote un paysage lent.

 

Paul Verlaine

 

The horn sounds its distress call over by the woods

With a cry of grief like that of an orphan

And comes to die at the foot of the hill

Where the roaming north wind wails in brief outbursts.

 

The soul of the wolf is weeping in that voice

Which rises with the sun that sinks

With an agony that seems somehow soothing

And at once delights and distresses.

 

To enhance this drowsy lament

The snow is falling as long shreds of linen

Across the blood-red sunset,

And the air has the air of an autumn sigh,

So mild is this monotonous evening

In which a slow landscape coddles itself.

 

Recorded 4 April 2008

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