Based on a French poem by Rainer Maria Rilke this piece replicates musically Rilke’s intimacy with the reader, his careful attentiveness and his magical poetic transformation of what is often seen as a common bird. A very gentle, evocative setting, Mésange requires subtle shading and tenderness of tone.

Ô toi, petit coeur, qui hivernes
avec nous au milieu des rigueurs,
tu te poses -, tendre lanterne
de vie -, sur les arbres en pleurs;

je contemple ce feu qui t’allume
à travers ton plumage dru,
et moi, plus caché à la brume
je ne crains de m’éteindre non plus.

A-t-elle peur de demain cette neige?
En effet, elle durcit en vain;
mais nous, qu’une flamme protège,
nous aurons la joie de demain.

by Rainer Maria Rilke

translation by Titmouse

O you, small heart that winters
out these harsh days with us,
you perch – tender lantern 
of life – on the weeping trees;

I ponder this fire which blazes forth
through your thick plumage,
and, more hidden by the mist,
am no longer afraid of dying out.

Does this snow fear tomorrow?
In fact, it hardens in vain;
but we, whom a flame protects,
will know the joy of tomorrow.

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