Green - (1990)    

Paul Verlaine

for baritone and piano

pour José Van Dam avec admiration

Voici des fruits, des fleurs, des feuilles et des branches

Et puis voici mon coeur qui ne bat que pour vous.

Ne le déchirez pas avec vos deux mains blanches

Et qu'à vos yeux si beaux l'humble présent soit doux.


J'arrive tout couvert encore de rosée

Que le vent du matin vient glacer à mon front.

Souffrez que ma fatigue à vos pieds reposée

Rêve des chers instants qui la délasseront.


Sur votre jeune sein laissez rouler ma tête

Toute sonore encor de vos derniers baisers;

Laissez-la s'apaiser de la bonne tempête,

Et que je dorme un peu puisque vous reposez.

[  3 pages, circa 2' 40" ]

Paul Verlaine


Here - some fruit, some flowers, some leaves and branches,

And here - my heart which beats for you alone.

Do not rend it with your two pale hands,

But let it be a small gift, sweet to your beauteous eyes.


I arrive covered with dew,

Which the morning wind freezes upon my brow.

Suffer me in my fatigue to lie at your feet,

Dreaming of sweet moments that will revive me.


On your young bosom let my head rest,

Still filled with your last kisses;

Let my thoughts subside after such a wondrous storm

And let me sleep a little while you lie by my side.


This text has been set many times, notably by Debussy, Fauré and Hahn, and José mentioned it as a favorite text of his. Included in Verlaine's Romances sand Paroles, published in 1872, this is a gentle expression of affection of the man for a woman, as it sketches one small moment in time -- the arrival of the suitor and his wish to "repose" beside her. It is not a text filled with overt sexual tension, so much as with refined tenderness.


José Van Dam


José van Dam (b. 1940) is among the most prominent and sought-after interpreters of the baritone-bass operatic repertoire, as well as in concert, oratorio, and lieder. In 1989, I sang Parsifal at the Royal de la Monnaie in Brussels with José Van Dam as a powerful and elegant Amfortas. His singing was inspiring, and his persona during rehearsals and backstage a joy in which to share. A greater biography is easily available for this fine performer and gentleman.


The score to Green is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.