Che gelida manina! Se la lasci riscaldar.
Cercar che giova? Al buio non si trova.
Ma per fortuna e una notte di luna,
E qui la luna l'abbiiamo vicina.
Aspetti, signorina, le diro con due parole chi son,
Chi son, e che faccio, come vivo, Vuole?
Chi son? Chi son? Son un poeta.
Che cosa faccio? Scrivo. E come vivo? Vivo.
In poverta mia lieta scialo da gran signore
Rimi ed inni d'amore.
Per sogni e per chimere e per castelli in aria
L'anima ho milionaria.
Talor del mio forziere ruban tutti
I gioielle due ladri: gli occhi belli.
V'entrar con voi pur ora ed i miei sogni usati,
Ed i bei sogni miei tosto si dileguar!
Ma il furto non m'accora poiche,
Poiche v'ha preso stanza la speranza.
Or che mi conoscete parlate voi.
Deh parlate. Chi siete? Vi piaccia dir?
It is Christmas Eve on Paris' Left Bank. Rodolfo is at home writing when a stranger knocks at the door. It is Mimi, a neighbor, who needs to borrow a match to relight her candle. Mimi is barely out the door, when she realizes she has lost her key. As they search for it, Rodolfos' hand falls upon hers.
How cold your little hand is! Will you let me warm it for you?
Why bother looking? It's dark, and we won't find it.
It's our good luck, though, this night's filled with moonlight,
Up here the moonlight could rest on our shoulders.
Please wait, my dear young lady, and I will quickly tell you
Who stands before you, and what I do,
How I make my living. May I?
Who am I? What am I? I am a poet.
What keeps me busy? Writing! And what do I live on? Nothing!
In poverty I'm cheerful, I am a prince who squanders
Arias and couplets of longing.
And as for hopes and dreams of love and castles-in-the-air,
Miss, I am a millionaire!
My fortress could be broken in, robbed clean of the fine jewels
I store; if the thieves were eyes like yours.
And now that I have seen you, all of my lovely dreaming,
All of the sweetest dreams I've dreamt, quickly have slipped away.
This theft does not upset me, because such treasures
Mean nothing now that I'm rich with sweet hope!
And now that you have met me, I ask you please,
Tell me, lady, who you are, I ask you please!