Last Updated: 3 February 2023

Au clair de la lune is a popular French song whose characteristic melody and lyrics are so familiar that they have been the subject of countless quotations, adaptations, parodies and pastiches.

The story of the song

In the absence of reliable sources on its creation, the work is currently considered to be an eighteenth-century song whose author and composer are unknown.

The lyrics were first published in 1843 by Théophile Marion Dumersan in Chants et chansons populaires de la France. The text was included in 1846 in the song collection Chansons nationales et populaires de France.

Harrogate Perriots

Harrogate Perriots

The oldest recording of a human voice

This song was first recorded in 1860 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, inventor of sound recording. It is the oldest known recording of a human voice.

Who is Pierrot?

There are several versions of the song. The most common one refers to characters from the commedia dell'arte, notably Pierrot and Harlequin.

Pierrot is a character with a white hat and a face powdered with flour. This role reappeared in Paris in 1673, played by Giuseppe Giratone. But it was Jean-Gaspard Deburau and his son Charles who popularised it at the Théâtre des Funambules in the 1820s.

Learn more about Pierrot...

Au clair de la lune - Pierrot and Harlequin by Cézanne 1888

Pierrot and Harlequin by Cézanne 1888

Au clair de la lune

Lyrics, music, free download... let's learn more about the popular song:

Au clair de la lune

The lyrics in French

The original song of Au clair de la lune has 3 verses.

Couplet 1

Au clair de la Lune

Mon ami Pierrot

Prête-moi ta plume

Pour écrire un mot

Ma chandelle est morte

Je n'ai plus de feu

Ouvre-moi ta porte

Pour l'amour de Dieu

Couplet 2

Au clair de la Lune

Pierrot répondit

Je n'ai pas de plume

Je suis dans mon lit

Va chez la voisine

Je crois qu'elle y est

Car dans sa cuisine

On bat le briquet

Couplet 3

Au clair de la Lune

On n'y voit qu'un peu

On cherche la plume

On cherche le feu

En cherchant d'la sorte

Je n'sais c'qu'on trouvera

Mais je sais qu'la porte

Sur eux se ferma

Translation of the lyrics into English

Here is an approximative translation into English:

Verse 1

In the light of the moon
My friend Pierrot
Lend me your pen
To write a word
My candle is dead
I have no more fire
Open your door for me
For God's sake

Verse 2

In the light of the moon
Pierrot answered
I have no feather
I'm in my bed
Go to the neighbour's house
I think she's there
For in her kitchen
We beat the lighter

Verse 3

In the moonlight
You can only see a little bit
We're looking for the feather
We're looking for the fire
I'm not sure what I'm looking for
I don't know what we'll find
But I know that the door
I'm not sure what to do about it

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Au clair de la lune © French Moments

French Nursery Rhymes

My challenge for the year 2023 is to publish 80 French Nursery Rhymes lyrics and descriptions (list below). Come back as time goes by to discover the new articles:

About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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