Jacques Prévert - La grasse matinée (English translation)

French

La grasse matinée

Il est terrible
le petit bruit de l'oeuf dur cassé sur un comptoir d'étain
il est terrible ce bruit
quand il remue dans la mémoire de l'homme qui a faim
elle est terrible aussi la tête de l'homme
la tête de l'homme qui a faim
quand il se regarde à six heures du matin
dans la glace du grand magasin
une tête couleur de poussière
ce n'est pas sa tête pourtant qu'il regarde
dans la vitrine de chez Potin
il s'en fout de sa tête l'homme
il n'y pense pas
il songe
il imagine une autre tête
une tête de veau par exemple
avec une sauce de vinaigre
ou une tête de n'importe quoi qui se mange
et il remue doucement la mâchoire
doucement
et il grince des dents doucement
car le monde se paye sa tête
et il ne peut rien contre ce monde
et il compte sur ses doigts un deux trois
un deux trois
cela fait trois jours qu'il n'a pas mangé
et il a beau se répéter depuis trois jours
Ça ne peut pas durer
ça dure
trois jours
trois nuits
sans manger
et derrière ces vitres
ces pâtés ces bouteilles ces conserves
poissons morts protégés par les boîtes
boîtes protégées par les vitres
vitres protégées par les flics
flics protégés par la crainte
que de barricades pour six malheureuses sardines..
Un peu plus loin le bistrot
café-crème et croissants chauds
l'homme titube
et dans l'intérieur de sa tête
un brouillard de mots
un brouillard de mots
sardines à manger
oeuf dur café-crème
café arrosé rhum
café-crème
café-crème
café-crime arrosé sang !...
Un homme très estimé dans son quartier
a été égorgé en plein jour
l'assassin le vagabond lui a volé
deux francs
soit un café arrosé
zéro franc soixante-dix
deux tartines beurrées
et vingt-cinq centimes pour le pourboire du garçon.
Il est terrible
le petit bruit de l’œuf dur cassé sur un comptoir d'étain
il est terrible ce bruit
quand il remue dans la mémoire de l'homme qui a faim.
 
Submitted by veterisflammae on Wed, 02/08/2017 - 22:09
Last edited by veterisflammae on Mon, 07/08/2017 - 18:48
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English translation

A plentiful morning

1It is so frightful, the noise
of a hardboiled egg being shelled against a pewter counter.
That noise is so frightful
when it stirs in the memories of the hungry man.
It is frightful too, the head of the man
the head of the hungry man
when it's 6AM and he looks at his reflection
in the window of the department store.
A head the color of dust.
Still, it's not at his own head he's looking at
in the grocery's2 window.
The man does not give a damn about his head.
He doesn't think about it.
He's musing.
He pictures another head.
A calf's head3 for instance,
served with vinegar sauce,
or the head of anything edible,
and he gently works his jaw,
gently,
and he grinds his teeth gently,
because the whole world is taking the mickey4 out of him
and he can't defend against this world,
and he's counting on his fingers: one, two, three.
One, two, three,
it's been three days since he last ate.
And though he keeps saying to himself
it can't go on like this,
it does go on.
Three days,
three nights
with nothing to eat,
and behind these windows,
these patés, these bottles, these jars,
dead fishes preserved by cans,
cans sheltered by windows,
windows watched over by cops
cops protected by fear.
So many barricades for a mere half-dozen sardines...
A bit further away, the bar,
flat white and hot croissants.
The man staggers
and inside his head
a haze of words
a haze of words
sardines to eat,
hardboiled egg, flat white
coffee spiked with rhum
flat white
flat white
bled white sprinkled with blood!5...
A gentleman well esteemed in his neighbourhood
had his throat slit in broad daylight.
The murderer, a tramp, robbed him
of two francs,
that is a liqueur coffee:
zero dot seventy francs,
two buttered slices of bread
and twenty five cents for the waiter's tip.
It is so frightful, the noise
of a hardboiled egg being shelled against a pewter counter.
That noise is so frightful
when it stirs in the memories of the hungry man.
 
  • 1. "grasse matinée" (lit. "fat morning") means "a lie-in", but here it can be understood as "a morning with plenty to eat"
  • 2. "Félix Potin" was a popular grocery franchise
  • 3. Calf head is a popular dish made of chopped and jellied calf meat, including parts of the head, usually served warm with a vinegar sauce
  • 4. the French idiom uses "head"
  • 5. lit. "crime-coffee drenched (in) blood"
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Submitted by petit élève on Mon, 14/08/2017 - 12:04
Added in reply to request by veterisflammae
Last edited by petit élève on Wed, 16/08/2017 - 23:16
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