In the poem Le spectre de la rose, set as part of Bizet's Les nuits d'été, we find “Soulève ta paupière close”. What's going on here with “close”; is that actually French word, or has the poet borrowed an English word?

3 Answers 3


A quick search in google with "origine of the word closed" returned "Middle English: from Old French clos (as noun and adjective), from Latin clausum ‘enclosure’ and clausus ‘closed’, past participle of claudere ."

The french word seems to be the origine of the english one.

"Close" is the feminine form af the adjective "clos" which describes a closed space or place, or the fact that something is... well... closed. It's often a synonym of "fermé" or "fermée". The verb associated is "clore".


Any dictionary shows this is a French word, so the English borrowed it to the French, not the other way around.

Being literary, clos[e] is more likely to be used in a poem than fermé.

Outside set expressions like espace clos, porte close, maison close, huis clos l'incident est clos, this adjective is rare in spoken French which prefers fermé[e] and sometimes clôturé.

Almost nobody would say je n'ai pas pu faire les course, le magasin était clos, or est-ce que la fenêtre est bien close ?

Similarily, the verb clore being quite irregular is also only used in limited tenses and persons (e.g. vous closez is very rare). The regular clôturer (which is derived from clore through clôture) being preferred along with fermer.

  • The one attempt I made to look it up failed. Obviously, an inadequate attempt.
    – bmargulies
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 1:16
  • «Espace clos» is fairly common. Among the closely related words, one could think of «enclos», «clôture», and «cloître». Further away in the family, we could think of «claustrophobie». Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 14:08
  • @Feelew My comment was about the adjective. Yes, espace clos and other set expressions like porte close, maison close, l'incident est clos are still used, but otherwise, clos is rare and often formal. Nobody would say je n'ai pas pu faire les course, le magasin était clos, or est-ce que la fenêtre est bien close ?
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 17:18
  • Qqs exemples bien vivants: la discussion est close, la réunion est close, l'incident est clos, le débat est clos. Et un exemple à usage plus restreint, mais encore actuel, dans le domaine des mathématiques: un corps (algébriquement, intégralement, quadratiquement) clos. Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 19:04
  • @Feelew, Beaucoup sont des expressions toutes faites. J'ai déjà cité l'incident est clos. Pour clarifier mon propos, je n'ai pas écrit que clos n'était pas utilisé mais qu'il était rare en français parlé courant et qu'on lui préférait d'autres adjectifs. Clos/close sont toujours bien présents en Français recherché et/ou écrit.
    – jlliagre
    Commented Nov 13, 2017 at 20:01

The poet has chosen to use the fairly uncommon word "close" for the sake of the rhyme with "rose":

Soulève ta paupière close

Qu'effleure un songe virginal;

Je suis le spectre d'une rose

Que tu portais hier au bal.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.