Clair de lune (poem)

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"Clair de lune" (French for "Moonlight") is a poem written by French poet Paul Verlaine in 1869. It is the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Claude Debussy's 1890 Suite bergamasque. Debussy also made two settings of the poem for voice and piano accompaniment. The poem has also been set to music by Gabriel Fauré, Louis Vierne, Sigfrid Karg-Elert, Josef Szulc, and Alphons Diepenbrock.


poeticized English translation (introductory stanza not literal): we gaze upon the moon our dreams sing in revelry her light plays in air and water dazzling plumes her shadow dances in the branches of trees that line the countryside

the soul’s countryside; masks and fantasy masks enchanting, playing lutes and dancing, melancholy beneath façades

soul sings in minor key of triumphant love and luck disbelieving its own song; its shadow cries with moonlight

calm, clear, winsome moon who makes birds sing in the trees illuminating marble statues playing on thin, dazzling plumes of water weeping from far-away fountains.


  1. ^ "Clair de lune". One Hundred and One Poems by Paul Verlaine (a bilingual edition). Translated by Norman R. Shapiro. University of Chicago Press. 1998. ISBN 0-226-85344-6, 0-226-85345-4. Retrieved 2017-07-08. (Only the French text is quoted here.)

Au Clair De La Lune

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