A Conversion of Art – From Poetry to Music

A classical music enthusiast, Michael Erin’s favorite song is “Clair de Lune,” the third and most famous movement of Claude Debussy’s Suite bergamasque. While the three other movements of Suite bergamasque are equally brilliant, there is something about “Clair de Lune” that has captivated Michael Erin and many others.

The phrase “clair de lune” is French for “moonlight,” and Debussy managed to capture the mysteries of the moon’s rays into his song. However, Debussy did not achieve this feat alone. The song is actually his musical rendition of a poem written by his childhood friend Paul Verlaine. The poem in question is also entitled “Clair de Lune,” and it consists of only three stanzas. Despite its brevity, the poem successfully tackles the mystery, loneliness, and the hidden darkness of the soul. It demonstrates Verlaine’s earliest inspiration, Charles Baudelaire‘s volume of poetry titles Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). It is this depth–this conversion of art–that makes Debussy’s Clair de lune so captivatingly beautiful.

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