Claire de Lune, Mournful Fetes Galantes and translating across artforms

“et quasi tristes sous leurs déguisements fantasques” / “and almost sad despite their whimsical costumes” (my trans.)

Thanks Mark Till and The Reader Online for this  blog on Paul Verlaine and  the translation for Claire de Lune…and the link from a commentator (scroll down) to the Faure song. Beautiful (or you can find various lovely versions on YouTube).

I haven’t been a great fan of French Symbolist poetry – truth to tell, I don’t know that much about it at all. But I’ve been listening and listening to the Faure song this Summer and at the same time trying to translate the poem. Trying to translate not so much the words, but the feeling I have in response to hearing it.

Perhaps music is a better way of translating what I am hearing…. and I have to credit ‘Claire de Lune’ with my introduction to Debussy. Honestly, I listened too many times to Claire de Lune – but ‘The Sunken Cathedral’ has been my private theme tune to the Titanic commemorations of 2012.

The Reader Online


Today is the 165th Birthday of French poet Paul Verlaine (1844 – 1896). 

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