Composer
[ London, UK ]
- free music to play
Concert Band (3) Music Theatre (3) Choir (5) Orchestra (10) Chamber - Wind (13) Chamber - Strings (8) Chamber - Other (16) Keyboard (6) Songs (11)
Guillaume Apollinaire
Written in 1998
Love and War in the Poetry of Guillaume Apollinaire, 1880 -1918
Mezzo-soprano, flute, trumpet, cello, piano, percussion
12 minutes
Difficulty level: Good amateur or student
Guillaume Apollinaire was one of the pioneers of modern poetry, and took part in the modernist revolution in the arts in pre-First World War Paris of Picasso and Stravinsky. The three poems set here are Pont Mirabeau, a poem of lost love, Cornflower (1917), based on his experience of trench warfare, and It's Raining which was written after the War. The translations are by Oliver Bernard, and were taken from the Penguin Modern European Poets edition, published in 1965. Note: In France the cornflower is a symbol of the war in the trenches, like to the poppy in the UK.
The Pont Mirabeau

Under the Pont Mirabeau the Seine
Flows with our loves
Must I recall again?
Joy always used to follow after pain
Let the night come: strike the hour
The days go past while I stand here

Love runs away like running water flows
Love flows away
But oh how slow life goes
How violent hope is nobody knows
Let the night come: strike the hour
The days go past while I stand here

The days pass and the weeks pass but in vain
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Pont Mirabeau flows the Seine
Let the night come: strike the hour
The days go past while I stand here

The days pass and the weeks pass but in vain
Neither time past
Nor love comes back again
Under the Pont Mirabeau flows the Seine
Let the night come: strike the hour
The days go past while I stand here
Cornflower (1917)

Young man of twenty
You have seen death face to face more than a hundred times
you do not know what life is

You know bravery and cunning
Communicate your fearlessness
To those who will come after you

Young man you are full of joy your memory is full of blood
It is 1700 hrs. and you would know how to die
For you know death better than life

O sweetness of other times
Immemorial slowness

Note: the original poem is not laid our in separate lines like this.
It's Raining

it is raining women's voices as if they were dead even in memory
you also are raining down marvellous encounters of my life o little drops
listen to it rain while regret and disdain weep an old fashioned music
listen to the fall of all the perpendiculars of your existence

Note: The original poem is laid our in columns of letters, like rain falling.

Some words have been omitted from each of the poems.
The piece can be performed either with a small group of men performing the male vocal part trained singers are not needed or with the male vocal part performed by the men amongst the trumpeter, percussionist, and pianist.
Click below to download the Score (and parts if needed) as PDF files.