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La fleur qui va sur l'eau

Fauré (1902)

Sur la mer voilé
D'un bouillard amer
La Belle est allée,
La nuit, sur la mer!

Elle avait aux lèvres
D'un air irrité,
La Rose des Fièvres,
La Rose Beauté!

D'un souffle farouche
L'ouragan hurleur
Lui baisa la bouche
Et lui prit la fleur!

Dans l'océan sombre,
Moins sombre déjà,
Où le troismats sombre,
La fleur surnagea.

L'eau s'en est jouée,
Dans ses noirs sillons;
C'est une bouée
Pour les papillons.

Et l'embrun, la houle
Depuis cette nuit,
Les brisants où croule
Un sauvage bruit,

L'alcyon, la voile,1
L'hirondelle autour,
Et l'ombre et l'étoile
Se meurent d'amour,

Et l'aurore éclose
Sur le gouffre clair
Pour la seule rose
De toute la mer!

Catulle Mendès

1The halcyon, in legend a magical kingfisher, was believed to make floating nests at sea and had the power to keep the sea calm.

The flower drifting on the water


Over the sea, veiled
by a bitter fog,
the Fair one set out,
by night, over the sea!

She had on her lips
with a irritated air
The Rose of Fevers
The Rosy Beauty!

With a sly breath
the howling hurricane
kissed her on the mouth
and took the flower from her!

In the sombre ocean
already less dark,
where the three-master is sinking,
the flower stayed afloat.

The water toyed with it
in the black furrows;
it is a buoy
for the butterflies.

And the spray, the swell
since that night,
breaking them where
a savage noise crashes,

the halcyon, the sail
the swallow all round,
and the shadow and the star
die of love,

and the dawn unfurls
upon the clear deep
for the only rose
of all the sea!

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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