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The Cracked Bell • La
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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 est amer et doux, pendant les nuits d'hiver,

D'écouter, près du feu qui palpite et qui fume,

Les souvenirs lointains lentement s'élever

Au bruit des carillons qui chantent dans la brume.

 

Bienheureuse la cloche au gosier vigoureux

Qui, malgré sa vieillesse, alerte et bien portante,

Jette fidèlement son cri religieux,

Ainsi qu'un vieux soldat qui veille sous la tente!

 

Moi, mon âme est fêlée, et lorsqu'en ses ennuis

Elle veut de ses chants peupler l'air froid des nuits,

Il arrive souvent que sa voix affaiblie

 

Semble le râle épais d'un blessé qu'on oublie

Au bord d'un lac de sang, sous un grand tas de morts,

Et qui meurt, sans bouger, dans d'immenses efforts.

 

Charles Baudelaire

 

It is bitter and sweet, during winter nights,

To listen, by the fire that flickers and smokes,

To long-distant memories slowly rising

At the sound of the bells chiming in the mist.

 

Happy is that bell with the vigorous throat,

Which, in spite of its age, is alert and healthy,

And faithfully sends forth its religious cry,

Like some old soldier on watch in his tent.

 

As for me, my soul is cracked; and when in its troubles

It wants to fill the cold night air with its songs,

It often happens that its weakened voice

 

Seems like the thick gasp of a wounded man, forgotten

Beside a lake of blood, underneath a large heap of dead,

And who dies, without moving, with immense effort.

 

Recorded 19 January 2007

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