Francis Cabrel - Gitans (English translation)

English translation

Gypsies

When you left gypsy
You only left
A car in pieces
You took your bamboo chairs
Your worthless guitar
You put the wind beneath your wings
You stroked the birds, you stroked the birds
 
You put stones on the fire
The long-haired women
Washed everything in buckets
Dried the laundry on the bushes
Put the kids back in the trucks
On the reed baskets
And stroked the birds, stroked the birds
Where were you going?
 
Apart from the puddles of mud
And a few wheel marks
You wanted to leave nothing behind
 
You put your pride gypsy
In the caravan curtains
Like folded flags
You stroked the birds, you stroked the birds
Where were you going?
 
I’m afraid of the town lights
Of the big unmoving houses
Of the gardens built all around
 
I’m afraid the children of our love
Will be taken from us ‘ex-officio’ 1
At rifle point by milicias
 
They call our daughters thieves
From within their fearful homes
Packed with attack dogs
 
They secure their poultry
They watch over their scrap
We’re nothing alike…
 
Now there’s a sign
Parking prohibited
As if there had been a plague
You’ve no choice but to look elsewhere
For people who’ll be less afraid
Hoping that some of them remain
And stroking the birds! And stroking the birds!
 
  • 1. by virtue of position - by 'officialdom'
Submitted by Gavier on Wed, 05/04/2017 - 10:49
Last edited by Gavier on Tue, 30/05/2017 - 13:52
French

Gitans

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Idioms from "Gitans"
Comments
petit élève    Fri, 26/05/2017 - 15:39

sous ta peau -> rather "skin", though wings come easier to mind

Tu n'as rien voulu laisser -> rather "you wanted to leave nothing behind" or "you didn't want to leave anything behind" (more a mark of pride than cowardice, I mean)

And stroking the birds -> shouldn't that be "stroke" to be consistent with the rest of the sentence?

Gavier    Thu, 15/06/2017 - 07:50

Yes, under the skin sounds really odd in English though so I took a bit of a liberty. Does it sound normal in French?

Yep - changed that to be more accurate, thanks.

Stroking the birds... Depends a bit which part of the sentence you link it to.

I'm reading it as "Hoping that some of them remain, and stroking the birds! " (hoping and stroking)

But it could be taken as:

You’ve no choice but to look elsewhere...
And to stroke the birds!

But really I prefer the first. :-)

petit élève    Tue, 30/05/2017 - 14:04

This "peau" sounds pretty odd in French too. Don't really know what he means by that. Like he whished he had wings but only had skin instead or something?

After re-reading the sentence more carefully, it makes perfect sense. The original is rather complicated too.