Learn the Lyrics to "La Fleur Que Tu M'avais Jetee" From "Carmen"

Don José's Aria Translated From French to English

Louise Poole and Philip O'Brien as Carmen and Don Jose on stage during photocall for "Carmen". Photo by Roberta Parkin/Redferns/Getty Images

The French composer Georges Bizet (1838–1875) wrote the song "La Fleur Que Tu M’avais Jetée" for his famous opera, "Carmen." Better known in English as "The Flower Song," the lyrics were written in French. If you've been wondering what Don José says to Carmen in this moving aria, you'll want to read through the English translation.

Setting the Stage

"La Fleur Que Tu M’avais Jetée" is sung by Don José in the opera’s second act when he is about to return to the army barracks. Through song, he tells Carmen that the flower she gave to him (in act one) allowed him to remain strong while serving his time in prison.

To many people, this aria is a highlight of the opera. The poetic lyricism of these five strains marked by unique changes in key speak to Bizet's talent. Sadly, Bizet's "Carmen" was not well received by the French opera lovers at the time. The upper society that attended operas did not want to see stories with peasants and gypsies, much less one in which women fight in a cigarette factory.

The critiques were so devastating to Bizet that he became depressed, fell ill, and died just months after the opera debuted in 1875. Today, it is considered a classic in operatic theater and loved by many.

"La Fleur Que Tu M’avais Jetée" French Text

La fleur que tu m'avais jetée,
Dans ma prison m'était restée.
Flétrie et séche, cette fleur
Gardait toujours sa douce odeur;
Et pendant des heures entiéres,
Sur mes yeux, fermant mes paupières,
De cette odeur je m'enivrais
Et dans la nuit je te voyais!
Je me prenais à te maudire,
À te détester, à me dire :
Pourquoi faut-il que le destin
L'ait mise là sur mon chemin?
Puis je m'accusais de blasphème,
Et je ne sentais en moi-même,
Je ne sentais qu'un seul déisr,
Un seul désir, un seul espoir:
Te revoir, ô Carmen, ou,
te revoir!
Car tu n'avais eu qu'à paraître,
Qu'a jeter un regard sur moin
Pour t'emperer de tout mon être,
Ô ma Carmen!
Et j'étais une chose à toi
Carmen, je t'aime!

"The Flower Song" English Translation

As with most translations, this is just one of many interpretations of "The Flower Song" in English. If you read more, you will notice subtle differences, though the meaning remains the same.

The flower that you had thrown me,
I kept with me in prison.
Withered and dry, the flower
Still kept its sweet smell;
And for hours,
On my eyes, my eyelids closed,
I became intoxicated by its fragrance
And in the night I saw you!
I began to curse you,
and hating you, I began to tell myself:
Why should fate
put you on my path?
Then I accused myself of blasphemy,
And I felt within myself,
I only felt but one desire,
One desire, one hope:
To see you again, Carmen, oh,
you again!
For all you needed was to be there,
to share one glance with you
To long for you with all my being,
O my Carmen
And I was yours
Carmen, I love you!