Francis Cabrel - L'Ombre au tableau (English translation)

English translation

The shadow on the painting

Versions: #1#2
A Terracotta landscape
The sky that could be by Magritte
The barn covered with ivy
The lizard sleeping on the stone
The cat curled up on the step
The insect hidden under the leaves
The world is in its pure colours
Like in your boxes of paint
 
Coming from beyond the clouds
From the depths of times and the ages
A strange light falls
Of grass, of wind, of dust
On our two useless armchairs
This kite caught on the tiles
Things seem to be eternal
Like in your boxes of watercolours
 
In the blue sky between the branches,
The aeroplane leaves a white vapour trail
Like a ribbon, a long cloud
As if to say "Everything is shared"
In the morning on the huge lake
It just takes a boat to move forward
And the water trembles endlessly
As if to say “Everything is torn”
 
Maybe you’re trying somewhere
To paint love from memory
To recompose the colours
Of a dying autumn on a heart 1
If you want to know how I feel about it
Things haven’t changed much since
That day when you turned your back
Except perhaps the shadow on the painting
 
In the blue sky between the branches,
The aeroplane leaves a white vapour trail
Like a ribbon, a long cloud
As if to say "Everything is shared"
Like your first attempts in gouache
A mark upon your pretty canvas
All diluted in the white
As if to say “Everything comes undone”
 
In your favourite light,
The one that looks like Magritte
The barn covered in ivy
The lizard that sleeps on the stone
 
  • 1. the "heart" here could be a pallette
Submitted by Gavier on Thu, 24/08/2017 - 16:41
Last edited by Gavier on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:40
Author's comments:

The title of this song has an idiomatic meaning. The little thing that spoils something that's otherwise good.
"The fly in the ointment"

French

L'Ombre au tableau

More translations of "L'Ombre au tableau"
French → English - Gavier
Comments
petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:16

I find this one particularly well written.
Cabrel might sometimes err just a bit on the heavy side with his poetic depictions, but this time he got it just right.

tes boites -> typo (plural)

white vapour trail -> maybe "vapour" could be omitted?

It just take a boat -> takes ?

à n'en plus finir -> that's rather idiomatic. Maybe just "endlessly" or something?

sur un cœur -> I don't really get your footnote. As I understand it, he says she tries to paint all this scenery in his heart, so the heart is more like a canvas for her paintings. Or did I miss something?

ont peu bougées -> this ugly grammar error defaces the original !

l'ombre au tableau -> that plays on the idiomatic meaning too (the only drawback/snag, the fly in the ointment)

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:39

Ah yes thanks - little fixes made

I think it's sounds better with "Vapour" in English. It's just normal, planes leave "vapour" or "contra" trails.

Yes, the "sur un coeur", I think that's rather clever. To my mind he wonders if somewhere she is trying to recapture the colours of this dying autumn, this dying love. But it also brings to mind an artist holding a palette (which is rather a heart shaped object) and mixing the paints. the whole thing is dripping with possible interpretation anyway. :-)

Ah - Is it the "ont peu bougées" that is ugly or the translation I made?

Oh there's an idiomatic meaning too! That makes the whole thing make a lot more sense! :-)

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:41

yes indeed, "sur un coeur" is well put. It's a delicate metaphor, the painting as the process of re-establishing a link between them or something

ont peu bougées -> if the fault had been on your side, I would not have put it that way Teeth smile

Gavier    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:43

I thought the french seemed a little awkward but I can't be sure from my non-native POV. :-)

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 15:47

To say the truth, these past participles are a real pain even for natives.
The usual trick is to replace the verb with anything of the 2nd group that ends in "-ir" so that you can "hear" the feminine, but I suppose that won't be of much help for a non-native.