Leïla Huissoud - Le bistrot (English translation)

French

Le bistrot

J'ai inventé un bistrot tout près de chez moi
Pour les poètes, pour les poivrots et pourquoi pas.
Je me suis glissée dans ce bistrot à petits pas
Pour voyager dans leurs histoires qu'on ne croit pas.
 
Y'avait trop de vent sur la mer
Et trop de vagues dans leur verre
Et ils se sont noyés parfois.
 
Mais sur la terre ils me parlaient
De toutes les femmes qu'ils aimaient
Et de toutes celles qui ne les aimaient pas
Mais qui quand même la nuit tombée
Dans un bordel au cabaret
Se donnaient entre leurs bras.
 
Et derrière votre regard sévère
Qui donne l'impression d'un homme fier
Y'a plus que quelques rêves brisés
Par la société comme vous dites
Et par ces vieux cons hypocrites
À qui vous ne voulez pas ressembler.
 
Vous préférez de loin votre histoire Monsieur
Et votre réputation de vieux fou
Vous préférez de loin votre bar Monsieur
Et plutôt que con mieux vaut être saoul.
 
Sur votre tabouret de bar
Vous êtes bien là le pilier
Dans toutes ces belles histoires.
 
Et sur votre tabouret de bar
Est-ce votre vie que vous contez
Où celle que vous vouliez avoir.
 
Comme j'aimerais vous voir sourire Monsieur
Comme j'aimerais vous voir sourire Monsieur
 
Alors vous parlez de la mort
Comme si vous n'en aviez pas peur
Et là ironie du sort viennent vos pleurs.
 
Et effondré sur votre comptoir Monsieur
Bizarrement j'aime votre désespoir
Et effondré sur votre comptoir Monsieur
C'est déjà la fin de vos mémoires.
 
J'ai inventé un bistrot tout près de chez moi
Pour ce poète, pour ce poivrot et pourquoi pas
Je me suis glissée dans ce bistrot à petits pas
Pour voyager dans son histoire qu'on ne croit pas.
 
Y'avait trop de vent sur la mer
Et trop de vagues dans son verre
Et il s'est noyé cette fois.
 
Submitted by Guernes on Sun, 03/09/2017 - 18:19
Last edited by Gavier on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:48
Submitter's comments:

Parole et musique : Leïla Houissoud

Align paragraphs
English translation

The bar

I made up a bar right next to my place
for the poets, for the drunks, and why not?
I tiptoed through the door and took a trip
into their stories no one believes in.
 
There was too much wind at sea
and too many waves in their glasses,
and sometimes they drowned.
 
But when ashore they told me about
all the women they loved,
and all those who did not love them,
but even so, after dark,
in a brothel at the inn
surrendered themselves in their arms.
 
And behind your stern gaze
that makes you look like a proud man,
only a few broken dreams remain,
ruined by the system1, as you put it,
and by these self-righteous old farts,
the kind you don't want to look like.
 
You like your story much better, Mister
and your reputation of old loony.
You like your bar much better, Mister
and you'd rather be a drunk than a jerk.
 
Stuck on your bar stool
you are indeed holding2
all these beautiful stories together.
 
Stuck on your bar stool,
is it your life you're telling,
or the one you wish you had?
 
I'd like so much to see you smile, Mister
I'd like so much to see you smile, Mister
 
And then you speak of death
as if you weren't afraid of it, and then,
how ironic, your tears break out.
 
And as you lie prostrate on your counter, Mister,
strangely enough I like your despair.
And as you lie prostrate on your counter, Mister,
your memories already come to an end.
 
I made up a bar right next to my place
for this poet, for this drunk, and why not?
I tiptoed through the door, to take a trip
into his story no one believes in.
 
There was too much wind at sea
and too many waves in his glass,
and this time he drowned.
 
  • 1. lit. "society", meant as (adverse) social circumstances
  • 2. unfortunately I could not render this rather nice pun on "pilier" which both means "regular" in a derogative way (a drunk spending all his time in bars) and "cornerstone" (the pillar that holds something together)
This translation does not claim to be of any particular value.
Glad if you liked it, sorry if you didn't.
You can reuse it as you please.
Glad if it's for knowledge or understanding, sorry if it's just for money or fame.
Submitted by petit élève on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 05:05
Author's comments:

That's actually quite beautiful French.
It's been a while since I was so pleasantly surprised by a talented young author.

More translations of "Le bistrot"
See also
Comments
Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:00

Oh that's good isn't it! This young lady looks most promising :-)
Certainly hear the echoes of Brel and brassens in the writing. Also in the simplistic but effective guitar work. Delightful!

A few nitpicks...

"No one" is written as two words in standard English.
belives - typo
(and repeated at the end)

I think I'd say "you'd *rather* be a drunk than a jerk" as it relates to a preference

Hmm yes your second footnote - that is hard to replicate. If I can think up something I'll come back to it...

Et là ironie du sort viennent vos pleurs - You could just say "And then, ironically your tears flow (or just you cry)" to keep the "irony" meaning. Quirk of fate is more just like something coincidental that happens.

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:11

It's nowhere near as good as the French but maybe some play on "pin"?

Pinned to your bar stool
you are indeed the lynchpin
holding all these beautiful stories together.

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:25

Mmm.. that's certainly linking both meanings together, but that might sound somewhat contrived. What does your native ear say?

"perched" is not good enough to render the "regular" meaning anyway. Maybe "stuck" or "camped"?

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:30

Stuck on your stool you are the glue that holds these stories together? :-)
That's not half bad...

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:38

Mmm... I'm not quite happy yet, but we're getting closer Regular smile

I really like this metaphor. It's the mix of beauty and triviality that makes this song so moving, so getting this bit right is worth struggling for a while.

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:15

yep, I hesitated between "rather" and "better", thinking of something radical like "better dead than red", but I think you're right, "rather" is nicer there Regular smile

Also I struggled with "the kind you don't want to look like". I could not think of a way to translate this "à qui" with an equivalent relative pronoun. "these old farts like whom you don't want to look" just sounded ugly (and possibly incorrect). How would you put that as a native?

I must say I'm quite impressed by this girl. She got everything right: the voice, the music, the lyrics, the poetry, the emotion...
After all Kate Bush is said to have written "the man with the child in his eyes" when she was only thirteen, but then again you don't see a new Kate Bush every day.

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:24

Yes, the most correct literal English would be "To whom you do not wish to resemble" but that sounds absurdly stuffy!

"the kind you don't want to look like" is fine or you could just say "that you don't want to be like".

Indeed, there's only one Kate Bush - Many imitators but nothing quite like the original. :-)

This young woman looks ready to carve out a niche all of her own

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:16

yep, sorry, for some reason I keep writing this one wrong.

Brat    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:25

"lay prostrate" is somewhat embarrassing. Maybe it is meant "lie prostrate"? I don't see a thing to be laid. Wink smile My spellchecker has suggested "lay prostate". Lol

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:30

Excellent nit-picking! Indeed "Lie" is correct here. Not that that stops many natives making the same error! Regular smile

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:42

Actually I tried to imply the idea of "as you lay dying", but that did not seem to work out very well Regular smile

I wonder why you say "lay dying" instead of "lie dying" by the way. Is that some archaic fixed expression, or just me mixing up these pesky position verbs?

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:02

You can say "as I lay dying" because "lay" is the past tense of "to lie"

In the present tense "to lay" is transitive so, you can lay a carpet, you can lay an egg, you can lay that pretty girl you picked up in the bar! You could even grab your bass and lay down a funky groove. But one cannot just "lay"

To further complicate things "to lie" is also "mentir" with a different set of conjugations. It's no wonder so many get tripped up by this! ;-)

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:10

OK, so the title of Faulkner's book is actually in the past, like "as I was lying dying", right? Since it's been translated as "tandis que j'agonise", I must have got the wrong idea about "lay" being an irregular present tense or something.

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:17

Yes, it is really "as i was lying dying" but that doesn't sound half as good!

Brat    Thu, 14/09/2017 - 10:33

You can say "as I lay dying" because "lay" is the past tense of "to lie"
In the present tense "to lay" is transitive so, you can lay a carpet, you can lay an egg, you can lay that pretty girl you picked up in the bar! You could even grab your bass and lay down a funky groove. But one cannot just "lay"
To further complicate things "to lie" is also "mentir" with a different set of conjugations. It's no wonder so many get tripped up by this! ;-)

The problem is much more complicated than you can even imagine. Its roots are ancient, 'cause it's represented in Russian too. Wink smile For example, we have an ineradicable colloquialism "ложить" widely used intead of the literary "класть". BTW, Russian "ложь" meaning "mentir" or "lie" is of the same origin. This word can also be considered as a colloquialism equivalent to the literary "клади", which is translated as "lay" or "put down" used in the imperative mood. The ruse is that the root can be "лож" (положить, выложить, наложить, отложить, приложить) in case of the perfective aspect or "кла[д]/лаг" (класть/полагать, выкладывать, накладывать/налагать, откладывать, прикладывать/прилагать) in case of the imperfective aspect. Furthermore, there is a bunch of derivatives (безотлагательный, отложенный, приложение, прилагаемый, приклад, заложенный, заклад, вкладыш, вложение and so on) that even the most avid linguists failed to systematize. The only way to become able to use them correctly is to learn them by rote. Sad smile

petit élève    Thu, 14/09/2017 - 15:56

Haha indeed, and German has just the same nightmarishly similar legen/liegen, while French has a wondefully simple approach to these position verbs, simply using the passive way to distinguish action and condition (poser/allonger -> lay, être posé/allongé -> lie).
I suppose it's due to the snappiness of French past participle compared with the other three languages or something. At any rate, position verbs proved to be a nasty surprise in every language I tried to learn Regular smile

Brat    Thu, 14/09/2017 - 17:43
petit élève wrote:

Haha indeed, and German has just the same nightmarishly similar legen/liegen, while French has a wondefully simple approach to these position verbs, simply using the passive way to distinguish action and condition (poser/allonger -> lay, être posé/allongé -> lie)

That's great if we forget about your terrible French genders. Table is female Omg smile tableau is male Devil smile And in Italian, AFAIK, there are tavola for women and tavolo - for men Tongue smile

Ivan U7n    Thu, 14/09/2017 - 17:59

And Bulgarian has момче for a boy and момиче for a girl, and grammatically they both are neuter.

petit élève    Thu, 14/09/2017 - 19:35

So is "Mädchen" (girl) in German, but strangely enough, boys are still masculine.

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 16:57

About "quirk of fate", I don't really know how to handle it. The French sounds a bit peculiar too, but I understand it as the narrator pretending the tears happened by chance, as if to spare the old man's pride. What do you think?

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:04

Oh I think of it as ironic - he says he can't cry and then - ironically - the tears come. Irony actually being used correctly for once - I'm looking at you Alanis Morissette! ;-)

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:14

Right, so something like "and then, how ironic, your tears break out", then?

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:16

Yep, exactly that! :-)

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:17

Always trust a Brit to know about irony Teeth smile

Brat    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:27

Sometimes you need an iron to draw tears, but not that time. Wink smile

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:27

btw. could you please correct the typo on "saoul"? These lyrics deserve a proper spelling for sure!

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:49

Yep done :-)

Brat    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 17:29

The girl is mm-mm.. marvellous, despite the fact she's not "a new Kate Bush" at all.

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 18:01

More like a new Brassens or Brel, I would say. That's French chanson at its best, really.
The comparison with Kate Bush was limited to her capacity to produce remarkably good songs at such an early age.

As Gavin said, Kate Bush is one of a kind anyway. Copycats like Bat for Lashes, however likeable, don't even come close.

Brat    Tue, 26/09/2017 - 17:54
petit élève wrote:

unfortunately I could not render this rather nice pun on "pilier" which both means "regular" in a derogative way (a drunk spending all his time in bars) and "cornerstone" (the pillar that holds something together)

Fortunately, I've found a nice adaptation of this pun to Russian. After I finish the translation you'll have the chance to evaluate it. Wink smile It's going to be an equirhythmic one, so it'll take some time, either...

Brat    Wed, 27/09/2017 - 10:20
Brat wrote:
petit élève wrote:

unfortunately I could not render this rather nice pun on "pilier" which both means "regular" in a derogative way (a drunk spending all his time in bars) and "cornerstone" (the pillar that holds something together)

Fortunately, I've found a nice adaptation of this pun to Russian. After I finish the translation you'll have the chance to evaluate it. Wink smile It's going to be an equirhythmic one, so it'll take some time, either...

Here you are -> http://lyricstranslate.com/en/le-bistrot-%D0%B1%D0%B8%D1%81%D1%82%D1%80%...

Romaint    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 08:18

Belle chanson en effet !

petit élève    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 08:23

N'est-ce pas ? Si cette gamine a été capable d'écrire ça à 18 ans, tous les espoirs sont permis pour la suite.

Romaint    Sat, 04/11/2017 - 13:01

Ça y'est, je l'ai mise sur "mon" forum. Quelques frissons à la réécoute, beaucoup de nostalgie se dégage de sa voix et de son texte.
Merci pour la découverte et pour la traduction.