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Baudelaire – Harmonie du soir

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Voici venir les temps où vibrant sur sa tige
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Les sons et les parfums tournent dans l’air du soir;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Chaque fleur s’évapore ainsi qu’un encensoir;
Le violon frémit comme un cœur qu’on afflige;
Valse mélancolique et langoureux vertige!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir.
Le violon frémit comme un cœur qu’on afflige,
Un cœur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir!
Le ciel est triste et beau comme un grand reposoir;
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige.
Un cœur tendre, qui hait le néant vaste et noir,
Du passé lumineux recueille tout vestige!
Le soleil s’est noyé dans son sang qui se fige…
Ton souvenir en moi luit comme un ostensoir!

The time commences in which each flower
Shaking on its stem exudes its essence like a censer;
Sound and scent swirl in the evening air;
Melancholy waltz and languid vertigo!
Each flower exudes its essence like a censer;
The violin quivers like a heart beset,
Melancholy waltz and languid vertigo!
The sky is sad and beautiful like a great altar
The violin quivers like a heart beset,
A tender heart that detests the vast and black void,
The sky is sad and beautiful like a great altar
The sun is drowned in its thickened blood.
A tender heart that detests the vast and black void,
Gathering up every vestige of a luminous past!
The sun is drowned in its thickened blood…
The memory of you in me glows like a monstrance!

Charles Baudelaire, Harmonie du soir from Les Fleurs du mal (1857 ed.) in Œuvres complètes p. 45 (Y.G. Le Dantec ed. 1961)(S.H. transl.)

Examine four other English translations of the poem here

Listen to Pierre Viala read the poem:

Listen to Claude Debussy’s setting of the poem in a performance by Barbara Hendricks, soprano and Michel Béroff, piano, from Cinq Poèmes de Baudelaire (1887-9)

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