Rhené-Bâton: Sérénade Mélancolique

6 05 2009

With your body, with your arms, make a tomb

With your body, with your arms, make a tomb

My love for the International Musical Scores Library Project grows by the day! Today, I discovered scores by a conductor and composer from the early 20th Century named Rhené-Bâton. His music sounds like a hybrid of Debussy and Fauré – not a bad thing!

The fourth song of Rhené-Bâton’s Op. 16 has an unabashed romantic flair. Much of the text describes the beauty one finds in a lover. At the end, though, the text turns dramatically, and the singer asks the beloved to “make a tomb” with his or her body within which the singer can hide from pain, hence the “melancholy” of the title.

Text (Jean Lahor) and new translation behind cut:

Tes grands yeux doux semblent des îles
Qui nagent dans un lac d’azur.
Sous la paix de tes yeux tranquilles
Fais-moi tranquille et fais-moi pur.
Ton corps a l’adorable enfance
Des clairs paradis de jadis:
Enveloppe-moi du silence
De ton corps blanc comme des lys.
Je souffre, j’étouffe, je pleure;
Fais de ton corps, fais de tes bras
Afin que je m’y perde et meure
Un tombeau que tu m’ouvriras

–Jean Lahor


Your big, sweet eyes resemble the islands
That swim in a lake of azure.
Within the peace of your tranquil eyes
I am made tranquil and made pure.
Your body has the adorable infancy
Of lights of paradise long ago:
Envelop me in silence
Of your body white like the lily.
I suffer, I choke, I cry;
With your body, With your arms
So that I me may get lost and die,
Make a tomb that you open to me.

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