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Je suis le Ténébreux

Donald Swann having fortified himself with a glass of water - not just plain water, but water enriched with Strontium 90 - is now going to sing you his own modern setting of a mid-19th-century poem which he will sing in French, because this is a French poem, it's a French sonnet actually, 14 lines, or 1.4 in the new heavy lines; it's by Gérard de Nerval, chap who used to go round with a lobster. It's called "Je suis le ténébreux", which, of course, translates as "I am . . . the" . . . I, I think, erm, translation rather spoils it.

Je suis le Ténébreux, - le Veuf, - l'Inconsolé,
Le Prince d'Aquitaine à la Tour abolie :
Ma seule Étoile est morte, - et mon luth constellé
Porte le Soleil noir de la Mélancolie.

Dans la nuit du Tombeau, Toi qui m'as consolé,
Rends-moi le Pausilippe et la mer d'Italie,
La fleur qui plaisait tant à mon coeur désolé,
Et la treille où le Pampre à la Rose s'allie.

Suis-je Amour ou Phébus ? ... Lusignan ou Biron ?
Mon front est rouge encor du baiser de la Reine ;
J'ai rêvé dans la Grotte où nage la Sirène...

Et j'ai deux fois vainqueur traversé l'Achéron :
Modulant tour à tour sur la lyre d'Orphée
Les soupirs de la Sainte et les cris de la Fée.


I am the Dark One, the Widower, the unconsoled,
The prince of Aquitaine whose Tower is abolished:
My sole Star is dead, and my constellated Luth
Bear the Black sun of Melancoly.

In the night of the Vault, You who comforted me,
Surrender me the Pausilippe and the sea of Italy,
The flower which pleased my bleeding heart to much,
And the trellised vine where the Vine Branch allies the Rose.

Am I Love or Phoebus?...Lusignan or Biron?
My forehead is still red from the Queen's kiss;
I have dreamt in the Cave where the Syrene swims...

And I have two times vanquished and been through Archeron:
Modulating in turn on Orpheus's lyre
The whispers from the Saint and the screams from the Fay.

Originally from the album 'At The Drop of a Hat'.
Words: Gerard de Nerval
Music: Donald Swann