Saturday, 26 April 2008

Dans l'eau de la claire fontaine



This is a light-hearted song about a young girl swimming naked in a country spring. "A la claire fontaine" is one of the multitude of traditional French songs that Brassens knew so well and which gave him such great pleasure. However he limits himself to the first verse:
A la claire fontaine
M'en allant promener
J'ai trouve l'eau si belle
Que je m'y suis baigne.


All the rest of the song is Brassens' gentle fantasy.


I think the delicate illustration painted by Marie-France RIVIERE perfectly conveys the idyll.









Dans l'eau de la claire fontaine (i)
Elle se baignait toute nue
Une saute de vent soudaine
Jeta ses habits dans les nues (ii)

En détresse, elle me fit signe
Pour la vêtir, d'aller chercher
Des monceaux de feuilles de vigne
Fleurs de lis ou fleurs d'oranger

Avec des pétales de roses
Un bout de corsage lui fis
La belle n'était pas bien grosse
Une seule rose a suffi

Avec le pampre de la vigne
Un bout de cotillon lui fis
Mais la belle était si petite
Qu'une seule feuille a suffi

Elle me tendit ses bras, ses lèvres
Comme pour me remercier
Je les pris avec tant de fièvre
Qu'ell' fut toute déshabillée

Le jeu dut plaire à l'ingénue
Car, à la fontaine souvent
Ell' s'alla baigner toute nue
En priant Dieu qu'il fit du vent
Qu'il fit du vent...

In the clear pool of a forest spring
She was bathing all in the nude
A sudden change of wind direction
Threw her clothes up into the sky.

In distress, she signalled to me
To fetch. in order to clothe her,
Piles of vine leaves and of flowers
Fleurs de lis or orange blossom.

With the help of petals of roses
A bit of a top I made her.
The fair maid was not very big
One single rose proved adequate.

With the help of a branch of vine
A bit of a skirt I made her
But the fair maid was so dainty
One single leaf proved adequate.

She offered me her arms, her lips
As if to show her thanks to me.
So feverishly did I accept
That she was all undressed again.

The game must’ve pleased the innocent
For she went often to the spring
And used to bathe all in the nude,
Praying God that the wind might blow
The wind might blow 







TRANSLATION NOTES

(i) Fontaine – as well as meaning fountain, it also means a water spring (The most common word to translate spring is - une source)
(ii) Les nues – means the clouds, the skies. It is more literary than “les nuages”



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2 comments:

Jenn said...

Thank you so much for posting a translation. My sad attempts were an injustice to his brilliance. What an incredibly beautiful song.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when some of Georges Brassens' songs were too 'risquee' to be played on the Radio... and growing up whith the immense legacy that his genius has left behind for all of us to ponder... I am delighted to see that some people are taking the time trying to explain why Georges Brassens is now an Immortal in France.
This particular song has the purity of a classical poem with the added zest of the bliss of innocence... truly a delightful result.