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Absence

Berlioz (1841)1
Bizet (1872)2

Reviens, reviens, ma bien-aimée;
Comme une fleur loin du soleil,
La fleur de ma vie est fermée
Loin de ton sourire vermeil.

Entre nos cœurs, quelle distance!
Tant d'espace entre nos baisers!3
O sort amer, ô dure absence!
O grands désirs inapaisés!

D'ici là-bas que de campagnes,
Que de villes et de hameaux,
Que de vallons et de montagnes,
A lasser le pied des chevaux!

Au pays qui me prend ma belle,
Helas! si je pouvais aller;
Et si mon corps avait une aile
Comme mon âme pour voler!

Par-dessus nos vertes collines,
Les montagnes au front d'azur,
Les champs rayés et les ravines,
J'irais d'un vol rapide et sûr.

Le corps ne suit pas la pensée,
Pour moi, mon âme, va tout droit,
Comme une colombe blessée,
T'abattre au rebord de son toit.

Théophile Gautier

1Berlioz set verses 1, 2 and 3
2Bizet omits verse 3
3Bizet has "tant de distance"

Absence


Come back, come back, my well-beloved;
like a flower far from the sun,
the flower of my life is closed
far from your vermilion smile.

Between our hearts, such a distance!
So much space between our kisses!
Oh bitter fate, oh harsh absence!
Oh great unassuaged desires!

Between here and over there, so much country
so many towns and hamlets,
so many valleys and mountains,
to tire the hoof of the horses!

To the country which takes my fair one from me
alas! If only I could go;
and if my body had a wing,
like my soul, to fly

over our green hills,
the azure-browed mountains,
the streaked fields and the ravines,
I would fly, swift and sure!

The body does not follow the thought,
for me, my soul, go straight ahead,
like a wounded dove,
and throw yourself against the eves of her roof.

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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