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Venise

Gounod (1842)

Dans Venise la rouge,
Pas un bateau qui bouge,
Pas un pêcheur dans l'eau,
Pas un falot.

La lune qui s'efface
Couvre son front qui passe
D'un nuage étoilé
Demi-voilé.

Tout se tait, fors les gardes
Aux longues hallebardes,
Qui veillent aux créneaux
Des arsenaux.

_Ah! maintenant plus d'une
Attend au clair de lune,
Quelque jeune muguet,
L'oreille au guet.

Sous la brise amoureuse
La Vanina rêveuse
Dans son berceau flottant
Passe en chantant;

Tandis que pour la fête,
Narcissa qui s'apprête,
Met devant son miroir
Le masque noir.

Laissons la vieille horloge,
Au palais du vieux Doge,
Lui compter de ses nuits
Les longs ennuis.

Sur la mer nonchalante,
Venise l'indolente
Ne compte ni ses jours
Ni ses amours.

Car Venise est si belle
Qu'une chaîne sur elle
Semble un collier jeté
Sur la beauté.

Alfred de Musset

Verses 4, 5, 7 and 8 were
specially written for Gounod
in 1865, the original text having
been written in 1829.

Venice

 

In Venice, the red,
not one boat which stirs,
not one fisherman on the water,
not one lantern.

The moon which is hiding herself
covers her passing brow
with a starry cloud
half veiled.

All keeps silent, except the guards
with their long halberds,
who keep watch at the battlements
of the arsenals.

Ah! Now more than one girl
awaits, in the moonlight,
some young beau,
with attentive ear.

Beneath the amorous breeze
the dreamy Vanina,
in her floating cradle,
passes by, singing.

Whilst, for the festivity,
Narcissa, who is getting ready,
puts on, in front of her mirror,
the black mask.

Let us leave the old clock
on the palace of the old Doge
to count for him, during his nights,
the long hours of boredom.

On the nonchalant sea
Venice, the indolent,
counts neither her days
nor her loves.

For Venice is so beautiful
that a chain on her
seams to be a necklace thrown
across beauty.

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

This translation is offered for study purposes. If seeking to use it for concert programmes please do let me know, and if for commercial purposes please consider making a small donation towards the upkeep of the site.

Christopher Goldsack singing Venise accompanied by Claire Toomer.