Tuesday, 22 April 2008

L'orage - Brassens song with translation

A sad love song.  Brassens tells how a violent thunderstorm thrust into his arms a young wife with whom he experienced a passion that has left an indelible imprint in his heart.. .




Parlez-moi de la pluie et non pas du beau temps,
Le beau temps me dégoûte et m' fait grincer les dents,
Le bel azur me met en rage,
Car le plus grand amour qui m' fut donné sur terre
Je l' dois au mauvais temps, je l' dois à Jupiter, (1)
Il me tomba d'un ciel d'orage.

Par un soir de novembre, à cheval sur les toits,
Un vrai tonnerr' de Brest(2), avec des cris d' putois, (3)
Allumait ses feux d'artifice.
Bondissant de sa couche en costume de nuit,
Ma voisine affolée vint cogner à mon huis(4)
En réclamant mes bons offices.


« Je suis seule et j'ai peur, ouvrez-moi, par pitié,
Mon époux vient d' partir faire son dur métier,
Pauvre malheureux mercenaire(5),
Contraint d' coucher dehors quand il fait mauvais temps,
Pour la bonne raison qu'il est représentant
D'un' maison de paratonnerres. »



En bénissant le nom de Benjamin Franklin,(6)
Je l'ai mise en lieu sûr entre mes bras câlins,(7)
Et puis l'amour a fait le reste !
Toi qui sèmes des paratonnerre' à foison,
Que n'en as-tu planté sur ta propre maison ?
Erreur on ne peut plus funeste...




Quand Jupiter alla se faire entendre ailleurs,
La belle, ayant enfin conjuré sa frayeur
Et recouvré tout son courage,
Rentra dans ses foyers fair' sécher son mari
En m' donnant rendez-vous les jours d'intempérie,
Rendez-vous au prochain orage.


À partir de ce jour j' n'ai plus baissé les yeux,
J'ai consacré mon temps à contempler les cieux,
À regarder passer les nues,
À guetter les stratus, à lorgner les nimbus,
À faire les yeux doux au moindre cumulus,
Mais elle n'est pas revenue.


Son bonhomm' de mari avait tant fait d'affaires,
Tant vendu ce soir-là de petits bouts de fer,
Qu'il était dev'nu millionnaire
Et l'avait emmenée vers les cieux toujours bleus,
Des pays imbécile' où jamais il ne pleut,
Où l'on ne sait rien du tonnerre.


Dieu fass' que ma complainte aille, tambour battant, (8)
Lui parler de la pluie, lui parler du gros temps
Auxquels on a t'nu tête ensemble,
Lui conter qu'un certain coup de foudre assassin
Dans le mill' de mon coeur a laissé le dessin (9)
D'un' petit' fleur qui lui ressemble...(10)
Georges Brassens
(1960 - Le mécréant,)
Talk to me of the rain and not of fine weather,
Fine weather turns me off and sets my teeth on edge.
Splendid azure skies drive me wild,
For the greatest love which was granted me on earth
I owe to bad weather, I owe to Jupiter.
Love fell down from a stormy sky.

With a november ev’ning, straddling the rooftops
A dreadful thunderbolt, with deafening caterwauls,
Set off its firework display.
Leaping up from her bed in her night attire
The lady next door came banging on my portal
Crying for my good offices.


“I’m alone and frightened, open please, for pity’s sake
My husband has just left on the hard job he has,
How the poor man makes his money
Having to sleep outdoors when the weather is bad
For the good reason that he works as a sales rep
With a lightning conductor firm.


Blessing the renowned name of Benjamin Franklin
I put her in a safe place snuggled in my arms
And then it was love did the rest!
You who scatter conductors round in abundance
Why did you not stick one of them on your own home?
The most fatal mistake to make….


When Jupiter went to make himself heard elsewhere,
The beautiful woman, released from her fear
And with all her courage regained
Went back to her own hearth to get her husband dried.
Fixing me a date for all thundery weather
A date arranged for the next storm.

From that day on, I never more let my eyes drop
I devoted my time to observing the skies,
To watching the clouds going by,
Gazing at the stratus, peering at the nimbus
Casting fond eyes on the least bit of cumulus
But she hasn’t come back again.


Her good husband had secured so much business
Sold so many little iron parts on that night
That he’d become a millionaire
And had taken her away to skies always blue
Idiotic countries where never does it rain
Where nothing is known of thunder.


May God grant that my lament goes forth loud and clear
To speak to her of rain, to speak of foul weather
That we faced up to together
To tell her that a certain deadly thunderbolt
Hit its target in my heart leaving the trace
Of a small flower that is like her…






TRANSLATION NOTES
1.      Jupiter- The ancient God, Jupiter is often depicted holding thunderbolts in his hands.

2.      tonnerr' de Brest – this is in fact a nautical expletive e.g.-“Shiver my timbers”.  It is not an expletive here of course, but conveys an alarming clap of thunder.

3.      Putois – un putois is a pole cat. « Crier comme un putois” means to emit deafening shrieks.

4.      mon huis – « huis » is an old word for door and survives in the expression à huis clos = in camera / behind closed doors.  The word huissier is still used meaning official doorman.

5.      Mercenaire means mercenary.  Un ouvrier mercenaire is a contract worker.  I think the main idea here is of earning a living.
.
6.      Benjamin Franklin- physicist (1706 – 1790) invented the lightning conductor.

7.      Câlin means affectionate also cuddly.   Faire un câlin à qu’n means  to give somebody a cuddle.
 
8.      Tambour battant – means briskly- (Collins-Robert). In France a drum was used to draw public attention just as the town crier’s bell was in Britain. 

9.      Laissé le dessin. Thunderbolts, we are told, can leave behind a plant-like imprint on the skin.


10.   The final line of the song is reminiscent of the final verse of "Une Jolie Fleur" where he says that the girl’s betrayal had left him with a heart incapable of love for any other woman.  As a result, some commentators add l’Orage to the list of songs about his teenage mistress Jo.  However the biography of the lady in this song seems completely different.




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2 comments:

Anonymous said...

In the last verse, there's a play on words: "coup de foudre" means thunderbolt but also love at first sight.

Anonymous said...

Translation is a so difficult art - I would say that this one is a very good try. It respects the spirit, the humor, the weight of expression, words and feelings. Bravo.