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Plaisir D'Amour (A Classical French Love Song)

By Thomas Keyes
May 1, 2005

“Plaisir d’Amour” is a classical French love song that goes back 200 years or more. The music was composed by Johann Scwartzendorf (1741-1816), also known as “Jean Martini”. The lyrics are from a poem of Jean de Florian (1755-1794), in his romance “Célestine”. The final orchestral version was the work of the distinguished French symphonist Hector Berlioz (1803-1869). “The Joys of Love” is the usual English title.

More recently, the song has been sung by Joan Baez, Brigitte Bardot, Karen Allyson, and, most notably, Charlotte Church. I learned the song from a Joan Baez recording around 1962, but, though I liked the song, I was not exactly happy with the way Baez did it. She sang the song in English, with only the refrain in French. Surely she could have done better. I will admit though that she sang Spanish well, being herself Spanish apparently, to judge from her name. Eventually I found the all-French words. This was not so easy in pre-Internet days. I hate to think of time I spent going through songbooks in libraries looking for songs that I can now get with a click of the mouse. But if I’m going to sing a French song, I want to sing it in French.

Here is the URL of the Charlotte Church rendition of the song. Charlotte Church is a 20-year-old Welsh girl. Her voice is incredible for someone so young as she:

http://www.geocities.com/tvng3/plaisirdamour.html

Here’s her picture: http://www.charlottechurchfans.com/images/charlottechurch_side.jpg

Though the lyrics are posted at that website, I have repeated them below, with my own translation.

PLAISIR D’AMOUR (Original French Lyrics)

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

J’ai tout quitté pour l’ingrate Sylvie.
Elle me quitte et prend un autre aimant.

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

« Tant que cette eau coulera doucement
Vers ce ruisseau qui borde la prairie,
Je t’aimerai » me répétait Sylvie.
L’eau coule encore. Elle a changé pourtant.

Plaisir d’amour ne dure qu’un moment.
Chagrin d’amour dure toute la vie.

PLAISIR D’AMOUR (English translation)

The joys of love last but a moment.
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

I’ve given up everything for the ungrateful Sylvia.
She is leaving me and taking another lover.

The joys of love last but a moment.
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

“As long as that water flows gently
Towards that brook at the edge of the meadow,
I’ll love you,” Sylvia repeated to me.
The water still flows. She has changed though.

The joys of love last but a moment.
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

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About the author Thomas Keyes: I have written two books: A SOJOURN IN ASIA (non-fiction) and A TALE OF UNG (fiction), neither published so far.

I have studied languages for years and traveled extensively on five continents.

Email: udikeyes@yahoo.com


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