english | nederlands

RC 143* La grenouille (“En ramassant un fruit dans l’herbe qu’elle fouille”)

unfinished work

text source

Albert Samain, Aux Flancs du Vase, suivi de Polyphème et de Poèmes inachevés (Paris: Mercure de France 3rd edition 1917), 29-30
  • La grenouille (“En ramassant un fruit dans l’herbe qu’elle fouille”)
  • Samain, Albert
  • solo voice and piano
  • 1918-07-05 00:00:00.0

It was Berthe Seroen who, in the summer of 1918, introduced Diepenbrock to the poetry by Albert Samain (1858-1900). The singer sent him Samain’s posthumously published collection Aux Flancs du Vase, suivi de Polyphème et de Poèmes inachevés (On the Vase’s Side, Followed by Polyphemus and Unfinished Poems, 1902); its third edition had appeared in 1917. Diepenbrock must have been immediately charmed by the uninhibited mood of La grenouille (The Frog), a poem of 24 twelve and thirteen-syllable lines, as he made an attempt to set it to music on 5 July. …more >

La grenouille (incipit)


It was Berthe Seroen who, in the summer of 1918, introduced Diepenbrock to the poetry by Albert Samain (1858-1900). The singer sent him Samain’s posthumously published collection Aux Flancs du Vase, suivi de Polyphème et de Poèmes inachevés (On the Vase’s Side, Followed by Polyphemus and Unfinished Poems, 1902); its third edition had appeared in 1917. Diepenbrock must have been immediately charmed by the uninhibited mood of La grenouille (The Frog), a poem of 24 twelve and thirteen-syllable lines, as he made an attempt to set it to music on 5 July.

The poem is about the beautiful nymph Chloris (azure eyes, wavy hair and pink cheeks) who is picking forest fruit when she sees a startled frog leap up and hop towards a small pond. Chloris tries to catch the quick little animal. After she has felt it slip away between her fingers several times, she manages – crowing with delight – to get hold of the frog. Curiously she observes the little body that feels at the same time alive and cold. The trembling animal looks at her. Its tiny heart is beating fast and Chloris feels compassion for it.

Diepenbrock only got as far as writing a four-measure piano introduction and the vocal melody for the first two lines. The following day he selected a different poem from Samain’s collection, see RC 144. Stylistically the sketch from 5 July is in keeping with the songs from this period which he did complete: Incantation (RC 132) from 1916 and Come raggio di sol (Like a Ray of Sun, RC 138) from 1917. La grenouille is never mentioned in his correspondence.

Ton Braas



En ramassant un fruit dans l’herbe qu’elle fouille,
Chloris vient d’entrevoir la petite grenouille
Qui, peureuse, et craignant justement pour son sort,
Dans l’ombre se détend soudain comme un ressort,
Et, rapide, écartant et rapprochant les pattes,
Saute dans les fraisiers, et, parmi les tomates,
Se hâte vers la mare, où, flairant le danger,
Ses sœurs, l’une après l’autre, à la hâte ont plongé.
Dix fois déjà Chloris, à la chasse animée,
L’a prise sous sa main brusquement refermée;
Mais, plus adroite qu’elle, et plus prompte, dix fois
La petite grenouille a glissé dans ses doigts.
Chloris la tient enfin; Chloris chante victoire!
Chloris aux yeux d’azur de sa mère est la gloire.
Sa beauté rit au ciel; sous son large chapeau
Ses cheveux blonds coulant comme un double ruisseau
Couvrent d’un voile d’or les roses de sa joue;
Et le plus clair sourire à ses lèvres se joue.
Curieuse elle observe et n’est point sans émoi
A l’étrange contact du corps vivant et froid.
La petite grenouille en tremblant la regarde,
Et Chloris dont la main lentement se hasarde
A pitié de sentir, affolé par la peur,
Si fort entre ses doigts battre le petit cœur.


  • Map-15(19)

    Map-15(19), 1 page dated 5 Juli 1918

    • 1918-07-05 00:00:00.0
    • location: Diepenbrock Archief Laren
    • pages: unknown