The Annual
Friday 26th November 2010 at 7-30pm

 Glebe Music Festival

In conjunction with The Glebe Society Inc

These translations of the works of Pierre Louÿs are by Alvah C. Bessie. The original works were published in 1894, and Debussy set them in 1914. Robert Weatherburn made a few small changes in italics.

The songs of Bilitis I. Bucolics of Pamphylia. Pastoral song

Pastoral Song

Evocation of the Pan, God of the Summer Wind.

One must sing a pastoral song to invoke Pan, god of the summer wind. I watch my flock, and Selenis watches hers, in the round shade of a shuddering olive-tree.

Selenis is lying on the meadow. She rises and runs, or hunts grasshoppers, picks flowers and grasses, or bathes her face in the brooklet's cooling shade.

I pluck the wool from the bright backs of my sheep to supply my distaff, and I spin. The hours are slow. An eagle sails the sky.

The shadow moves let us move the basket of flowers and the crock of milk. One must sing a pastoral song to invoke Pan, god of the summer wind.


The songs of Bilitis II. Elegies at Mytilene. The Nameless Tomb.

The Nameless Tomb

Mnasidika then took me by the hand, and led me through the portals of the town to a little barrne field where a marble shaft was standing.

I felt a sudden tremor, and – clinging to her hand – leaned on her shoulder, to read the four verses between the serpent and the broken bowl.

“Death did not carry me away, but the Nymphs of the river. I rest here beneath the light earth with the shorn ringlets of my Xantho. Let her alone weep for me. I shall not say my name”

We stood there long and (but) did not pour libation. How can one call upon an unknown soul from out the rushing hordes of the souls in Hades?


The Songs of Bilitis III. Epigrams in the Isle of Cyprus. Dancer with Castanets

Dancer with Castanets

You tie you sound crotals to your airy(supple) hands, Myrrhinidion my dear, and no sooner have you taken off your dress, than you stretch you tensing limbs. How pretty you are in with arms flung in the air, arched flanks, and rouge-red breasts!

You begin: your feet step one before the other, daintily hesitate, and softly slide. With body waving like a scarf, you caress you trembling skin and desire bathes you long and fainting eyes.

Suddenly you clap your castanets! Arch yourself on tip-toe, shake your flanks, fling your legs, and your crashing hands call all the lusts, in hordes, about your fiercely twisting body.

Let us applaud wildly, whether, smiling over your shoulder(as) you twitch your convulsed and strongly-muscled croup, or undulate, almost stretched abroad, to the rhythm of your ardent memories.

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