Plaisir d'amour

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"Plaisir d'amour" (literally "The pleasure of love") is a classical French love song written in 1784 by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (1741–1816); it took its text from a poem by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794), which appears in his novel Célestine.

The song was greatly successful in Martini's version. For example, a young woman, Madame Julie Charles, sang it to the poet Alphonse de Lamartine during his cure at Aix-les-Bains in 1816, and the poet was to recall it 30 years later.[1]

Hector Berlioz arranged it for orchestra (H134) in 1859.[2] Louis van Waefelghem arranged the tune for viola d'amore or viola and piano in the 1880s. It has been arranged and performed in various pop music settings.


Original poem by de Florian[edit]

Music by Jean-Paul-Égide Martini (1741–1816)
Lyrics by Jean-Pierre Claris de Florian (1755–1794)

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment.
chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

J'ai tout quitté pour l'ingrate Sylvie.
(or Tu m'as quitté pour la belle Sylvie.)
Elle me quitte et prend un autre amant.
(or Elle te quitte pour un autre amant.)

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment.
chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

Tant que cette eau coulera doucement
vers ce ruisseau qui borde la prairie,

Je t'aimerai me répétait Sylvie.
L'eau coule encore. Elle a changé pourtant.

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment.
chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

The pleasure of love lasts only a moment
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

I gave up everything for ungrateful Sylvia,
(or You gave me up for the beautiful Sylvia,)
She is leaving me for another lover.
(or She is leaving you for another lover.)

The pleasure of love lasts only a moment,
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

"As long as this water will run gently
Towards this brook which borders the meadow,

I will love you", Sylvia told me repeatedly.
The water still runs, but she has changed.

The pleasure of love lasts only a moment,
The grief of love lasts a lifetime.

Joan Baez lyrics[edit]

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment.
chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.

The joys of love are but a moment long
The pain of love endures the whole life long

Your eyes kissed mine, I saw the love in them shine
You brought me heaven right then when your eyes kissed mine.

My love loves me, and all thy wonders I see
The rainbow shines in my window, my love loves me

And now he's gone like a dream that fades into dawn
But the words stay locked in my heartstrings, my love loves me

Plaisir d'amour ne dure qu'un moment.
chagrin d'amour dure toute la vie.



Notable classical singers who have recorded Martini's original song include Rosa Ponselle, Victoria de los Ángeles, Tito Schipa, Fritz Wunderlich, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Janet Baker, Inese Galante, Yvonne Kenny, and many others. In 2014, Plácido Domingo recorded the song for his album, Encanto del Mar.

Notable interpretations of modern arrangements of the song include those of Karrin Allyson, Joan Baez, Brigitte Bardot, Vicki Brown, Charlotte Church, Marianne Faithfull, Nana Mouskouri, and The Seekers.

One of the more unusual recordings is by Paul Robeson. Notable appearances in films include Irene Dunne in Love Affair; Montgomery Clift played the music on the piano and sang the song as well in The Heiress; the song's music is featured in the opening of the 1955 movie We're No Angels; Joely Richardson, as Marie Antoinette, sings it in the 2001 film The Affair of the Necklace; "Plaisir d'amour" is sung by an all-female choir in "The Breaking Point", an episode of HBO's 2001 World War II television miniseries Band of Brothers; the 1987 movie La Famiglia by Ettore Scola; the tune is heard repeatedly in the 1977 film March or Die. The melody was used for several songs with new lyrics, including "Can't Help Falling in Love", with Elvis Presley, and "I Want To Live" by Aphrodite's Child.

In literature[edit]

In the 1949 film The Heiress, the song is played and sung by Montgomery Clint's character Morris. The song is woven throughout the score, foreshadowing his betrayal and the title character's lifelong heartbreak.

Hermann Hesse's short story "Chagrin d'Amour" (1908) narrates a fictional origin for this song at a medieval tournament. Hesse has it composed by an obscure troubadour named Marcel, who sings this song to a queen named Herzeloyde to express his hopeless and unrequited love for her. Hesse took the names of the characters from Wolfram von Eschenbach's Parzival.

At the start of Robert Anderson's play Tea and Sympathy, the main character, Tom Lee, is singing this "plaintive" song referred to as "The Joys of Love".


  1. ^ Vojislav Mate Jovanović "La Guzla" de Prosper Mérimée: étude d'histoire romantique 1910 p. 136 "Les paroles de Florian furent mises en musique par Martini, l'auteur de Plaisir d'Amour; cette traduction obtint un grand succès en France. En 1816, Mm° Charles la chantait à Lamartine, et le poète du Lac, trente ans plus tard, déclarait dans une page de Raphaël qu'il ne pouvait entendre sans pleurer les vers de cette touchante ballade : Quand les moutons sont dans la bergerie, .."
  2. ^ Berlioz: Musical and Literary Works (list of reference editions)
  3. ^ Baez, Joan (1961). Joan Baez, Volume 2 (audio recording). New York, New York, USA: Vanguard Records. p. Plaisir d'Amour. 
  4. ^ Anthologie de la Chanson Francaise released by EPM in France
  5. ^ Classic Folk at AllMusic

External links[edit]