The notes from my recital program:
Claude Debussy was a French composer, author, conductor, and performer. His music was primarily impressionistic. Clair de lune is the third movement from Debussy's work Suite bergamasque, composed around 1890. This movement's title means "moonlight". It is inspired by Paul Verlaine's poem, Clair de lune:
Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair,
Peopled with maskers delicate and dim,
That play on lutes and dance and have an air
Of being sad in their fantastic trim.
The while they celebrate in minor strain
Triumphant love, effective enterprise,
They have an air of knowing all is vain,
And through the quiet moonlight their songs rise,
The melancholy moonlight, sweet and lone.
That makes to dream the birds upon the tree,
And in their polished basins of white rock
The fountains tall to sob with ecstasy.
I never played this piece without thinking about this poem.