Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Le parapluie - Video Lyrics Translation

Brassens is at his most gentle and romantic. Some people think that this describes his first meeting with his long-term companion, Joha Heiman. She also was tiny in build, hence the affectionate name which Brassens had for her: Puppchen. This German word means "little doll". (See biogaphical notes below)

On the other hand the girl in the rain could be an example of one of the passing girls in a man's life who remain indelibly in the memory.  Brassens sings of them in his song:"Les Passantes"




Il pleuvait fort sur la grand-route
Ell' cheminait sans parapluie
J'en avais un, volé, sans doute
Le matin même à un ami
Courant alors à sa rescousse(1)
Je lui propose un peu d'abri
En séchant l'eau de sa frimousse(2)
D'un air très doux, ell' m'a dit " oui "



Un p'tit coin d'parapluie
Contre un coin d'paradis
Elle avait quelque chos' d'un ange
Un p'tit coin d'paradis
Contre un coin d'parapluie
Je n'perdais pas au chang', pardi

Chemin faisant, que ce fut tendre
D'ouïr à deux le chant joli
Que l'eau du ciel faisait entendre
Sur le toit de mon parapluie
J'aurais voulu, comme au déluge
Voir sans arrêt tomber la pluie
Pour la garder, sous mon refuge
Quarante jours, quarante nuits


Un p'tit coin d'parapluie
Contre un coin d'paradis
Elle avait quelque chos' d'un ange
Un p'tit coin d'paradis
Contre un coin d'parapluie
Je n'perdais pas au chang', pardi


Mais bêtement, même en orage
Les routes vont vers des pays
Bientôt le sien fit un barrage(3)
A l'horizon de ma folie
Il a fallu qu'elle me quitte
Après m'avoir dit grand merci
Et je l'ai vue toute petite
Partir gaiement vers mon oubli.



Un p'tit coin d'parapluie
Contre un coin d'paradis
Elle avait quelque chos' d'un ange
Un p'tit coin d'paradis
Contre un coin d'parapluie
Je n'perdais pas au chang', pardi




Written in 1952
Rain poured down hard on the highway
She struggled on, without brolly
I had got one, acquired secretly
From a close friend that same morning.
So, running to assist the lady
I offered this spot of cover.
Drying the wet from her tender face
She told me very softly « Oui »

A small bit of brolly
For a bit of heaven
She’d something angelic ‘bout her
A small bit of heaven
For a bit of my brolly
I came off well, gracious me.

Walking along, how sweet to hear
Just we two,the pretty song which
The waters from the sky produced
Upon the roof of my brolly.
I would have wished, like the Great Flood
To see the rain falling non stop
Just to keep her, ‘neath my refuge
For forty days and forty nights

A small bit of brolly
For a bit of heaven
She’d something angelic ‘bout her
A small bit of heaven
For a bit of my brolly
I came off well, gracious me.


But foolishly, e’en when storms rage
Roads lead to different districts
Hers soon loomed like a barrage
On the horizon of m’ folly
She left me, as it had to be,
After thanking me most warmly
And I saw her, chic and petite,(4)
Go gaily to forgetting me.



A small bit of brolly
For a bit of heaven
She’d something angelic ‘bout her
A small bit of heaven
For a bit of my brolly
I came off well, gracious me. 







Translation notes

1)      Rescousse means help/support/relief

2)      Frimousse is a familiar word used for the face of a child or young person
.
3)      Barrage can be (a) dam/ flood barrier. (b) barrier/ barricade/ roadblock.


4)      chic and petite- Brassens said toute petite but “quite petite” sounded flat for a girl who has become a lasting memory.  I could have said: “So very petite” but I did not have enough syllables in the line.  I have therefore made my own contribution to her glamour  - not permissible for a translator – and I have pictured her as elegant.!


Biographical notes

The final verse of the song does not see the event it describes as the start of a love affair, saying that the young lady was going home to give no further thought to him.

It is often assumed that the poem describes a chance meeting between Brassens and Joha Heiman, mainly from the description of the petite young lady under his umbrella. Brassens’ affectionate name for his lifelong partner was his “Püppchen”- his “Little Doll”.

In a conversation with Georges Brassens, extracts of which I have copied below, Brassens spoke of his songs which had been inspired by his love of his Püppchen. I was surprised that in the four songs he quoted on the spot, “Le Parapluie” did not appear – however he said there were many others.

Having read his biography, I want to believe that the poem describes a chance meeting between Brassens and the Estonian, lady when he was a shy 25 years old and had never dared speak to her. I am copying Brassens own account, to leave you to form your own opinion. (I have put my translation of this text afterwards)

Speaking towards the end of his life, Brassens tells us:

Je l'ai souvent répété, Püppchen ce n'était pas ma femme, c'était ma déesse.

Joha Heiman était originaire d'Estonie. Elle avait connu une enfance peu attrayante. Sa mère est morte alors qu'elle n'avait que deux ans et son père s'est alors remarié avec la soeur de sa première femme. Mais ce couple n'était que conflits et tensions. Aussi, Joha profita de la première occasion pour s'en libérer. Et c'est en prenant un poste de jeune fille au pair dans une famille bourgeoise qu'elle vint s'installer à Paris où vivait déjà une soeur de son père. C'était en 1930, elle avait 19 ans. Mais, espérant fuir un climat de confrontation, elle connut à nouveau adversité et tensions dans cette famille où elle devait enseigner l'allemand aux enfants. Aussi, pour s'en sortir, elle choisit d'apprendre le métier de couturière, une valeur sûre pour les jeunes filles à l'époque.

Puis, beaucoup à cause de ces circonstances, elle s'engagea sans grand enthousiasme dans un mariage terne dont la seule dimension réjouissante fut la venue d'un enfant. Si elle s'émerveillait de cette valorisation marquante de sa vie, du bonheur d'être mère, l'événement ne revalorisera pas son mariage. Bien au contraire. Un mari jaloux et possessif n'acceptait pas l'attention et l'amour qu'elle portait à leur fils. C'est bien à cette époque que je croisais cette belle passante.
BRASSENS TELLS HOW HE FIRST MET JOHA IN 1939 –HE WAS ABOUT 18
Un peu avant la guerre, j'avais remarqué une douce jeune fille (j'ai mis longtemps à réaliser
qu'elle avait dix ans de plus que moi) que je croisais occasionnellement lors de flâneries dans mon quartier. Aux sourires complices que nous échangions, j'ai deviné qu'elle avait compris que j'avais noté son trajet quotidien et ses horaires et que ce n'était plus par hasard que je ralentissais le pas en la croisant.

THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
Puis ce fut le gouffre de la guerre. Les privations étaient multiples. La mienne fut de ne plus pouvoir marcher librement dans la rue. Pendant quatre ans. ……..
JOHA PENDANT LA GUERRE 1939 -1945
Puis, le grand dérangement. Le mari fut dès le début de la guerre fait prisonnier et y restera pendant quatre ans. À son retour, il n'y avait plus aucun attachement et les procédures de divorce furent entamées.
APRÈS LA LIBERATION DE LA FRANCE 1945
Puis, la vie ayant repris son cours, c'est, cette fois-ci, par le jeu du hasard que nos routes se croisèrent à nouveau. Le charme opérait toujours. Et ce n'est que beaucoup plus tard que j'ai su qu'elle m'avait parfaitement reconnu. Il a fallu que nous nous retrouvions face à face dans le métro pour que j'ose enfin lui parler. Spontanément, je me retrouvais à la raccompagner chez elle et je crois bien que c'est par complicité mutuelle que le trajet du point A au point B ne fut pas du tout la ligne droite. Comme je l'avais quelques fois aperçue avec un jeune enfant, je me doutais qu'elle devait être mariée. Mais son attitude me permettait d'espérer des circonstances particulières. Aussi, je parvins à surmonter ma timidité de jouvenceau soupirant et lui proposai un rendez-vous. Nous ne nous sommes plus jamais quittés.
(BRASSENS’ BIOGRAPHICAL COMMENTS TRANSLATED INTO ENGLISH)
¬ JOHA HEIMAN’S LIFE-STORY UNTIL 1939
Joha Heiman came originally from Estonia. She had experienced an unappealing childhood. Her mother had died when she was only two years old and her father then got married again to the sister of his first wife. But this couple was nothing but quarrels and tension. Therefore Joha took advantage of the first opportunity to break free and it was by taking a post of au pair with a middle-class family that she came to settle in Paris, where her father’s sister was already living. That was in 1930 and she was 19 years old. However, hoping to run away from an atmosphere of confrontation, she came across once it again with the hostility and confrontation in this family where she was to teach German to the children. Therefore, to get away from it, she chose to learn the trade of a seamstress, a reliable career for girls at that time.

Then, very much much because of these circumstances, she entered into, without any great enthusiasm; a dismal marriage in which the only cheerful dimension was the arrival of a child. If she delighted in this marked improvement in the quality of her life and in the happiness of being a mother, the event did not improve the quality of her marriage. Much to the contrary. A jealous and possessive husband could not accept the attention and love which she devoted to her son. It was indeed at this period that I met this beautiful passer-by.

BRASSENS TELLS HOW HE FIRST MET JOHA IN 1939 –HE WAS ABOUT 18
It was shortly before the outbreak of war. I had noticed a sweet girl (it took me a long time to realise that she was 10 years older than I was) whom I passed now and again when I was strolling around my district of Paris. From the complicit smiles which we exchanged, I guessed that she had understood that I had noted the route of her daily walk and her daily routines and that it was no longer by chance that I slowed down my step as I walked past her.

THE OUTBREAK OF WAR
Then came the huge gap of the war years. The deprivations were many fold. Mine was to no longer be able to walk freely on the street. For four years it lasted..........

JOHA DURING THE WAR 1939-1945
Then came the big upheaval for Joha and her family. Her husband is thrown into prison right from the beginning of the war and will stay there for four years. On his return home, there was no longer any attachment between the married couple and divorce proceedings were started.
AFTER THE LIBERATION OF FRANCE 1945
Brassens resumes his story:
Then, life having resumed its course, it was on this occasion by pure chance, that our two paths crossed once again. The magic still worked its charm. And it was only much later that I found out that she had recognised me perfectly. And it took a face-to-face encounter on the metro for me to dare finally to speak to her. Spontaneously I got around to taking her back home and I very much believe that is it was through mutual collusion that the path we took from point A to point B was not at all a straight line. As I had several times noticed her with a young child I suspected that she must be married but her attitude allowed me to hope for some special circumstances. Therefore, I managed to overcome my shyness of a young suitor and suggest a rendez-vous. We have never left each other since.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The very individual, loving relationship, which Georges Brassens and Joha Heiman forged together was to last more than thirty years, ended by the death of Brassens.

I have given further details of Joha Heiman's part in his life in biographical comments with the following songs:
Je me suis fait tout petit.
La non-demande en mariage.


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