Claude Debussy (1982-1918,  shown above in a portrait by Marcel Baschet) composed one of the world’s most beloved and beautiful pieces of music — the sublime “Clair de Lune” (Light of the Moon). Listen to a rendition by pianist Ivan Moravec here.

Debussy was inspired to write “Clair de Lune” after reading Paul Verlaine‘s 1869 poem of the same name. (Verlaine’s portrait below is by Gustave Courbet.)

by Paul Verlaine

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.