Clair de Lune



As a pianist, I have a special place in my heart for classical music. A newfound favorite of mine is called “Clair de Lune,” (meaning “moonlight” in French) which is the third movement of Suite bergamasque, composed by Claude Debussy. I was doing some research on it and – besides finding out that it has been used in various movies, such as Twilight (coming to theaters on November 21st!!!) and the Bellagio fountain scene from Ocean’s 11 – was surprised to discover that it was inspired by a poem entitled, “Clair de Lune,” by Paul Verlaine. If you’d like to read it, here’s a link to the original poem


While I read the English translation, I could hear the song playing in the back of my mind, moving smoothly between its soft, delicate moments depicting “the still moonlight” and the powerful crescendos of “the fountain sprays sob[bing] in ecstasy.” Reading Verlaine’s poem made me more fully appreciate the achingly sweet, melancholy beauty of Debussy’s masterpiece. The fact that Debussy had this poem in mind as he composed “Clair de Lune” made me reflect on the true power of art in conveying a certain essence to others, and going beyond this in inspiring them to feel this essence in their own ways. This made me think of how beauty can be captured in so many different forms (i.e. writing, music, photography, film, etc.). [Shameless plug: This is why we especially encourage submissions of ALL media for {m}22!]


When I was first learning “Clair de Lune” on the piano, I found it frustrating that the way I played it was different from the version I heard, because I wanted to do Debussy justice in playing it as it was meant to be played. However, after hearing a lot of different renditions online, I realized that what’s more important is to play my own interpretation of it, because the purpose of art to me is to feel something the way that I feel it, to find my own meaning in it. Although I still appreciate the beauty of all the different renditions I’ve heard, I never feel as “in the moment” as I do when I play it myself, because it is an expression of myself, and an expression of what “Clair de Lune” means to me.


I’m really sad because I recorded a 1-minute clip of my own rendition of “Clair de Lune,” but the blog doesn’t allow uploads of .wav files… Oh well, the quality was pretty crappy anyway, since I used Windows Sound Recorder, haha.


{ Jacqueline Fauni/Co-Literary Editor }


One thought on “Clair de Lune

  1. “Your soul is like a landscape fantasy,
    Where masks and Bergamasks, in charming wise,
    Strum lutes and dance, just a bit sad to be
    Hidden beneath their fanciful disguise.”

    I love Claire de Lune

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