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46 DRAMATIC AND LYRIC INTERPRETATION
Jean Renaud, a knight of the fifteenth century, is returning from war, grievously wounded. His wife, who has just given birth to a child, is in bed; but Renaud's mother keeps looking out for him on the tower of the castle. She sees him approaching, she greets him joyously, not knowing that he is wounded, and announces triumphantly the birth of his child. But Renaud feels that he will die and asks his mother to have him laid far away from his wife's room, that she might not know either his return or his death. He expires a short time after his arrival.
Renaud's wife, however, notices the unusual movements in the house, the strange noises, she hears the hammering, the nailing of the coffin. She hears at last the funeral procession, she questions the mother, who finally has to admit the sad end of Renaud.
You will notice that in each verse the following four measures reappear: