My Childhood

French

Mon Enfance

Mon enfance passa
De grisailles en silences
De fausses révérences
En manque de batailles
L'hiver j'étais au ventre
De la grande maison
Qui avait jeté l'ancre
Au nord parmi les joncs
L'été à moitié nu
Mais tout à fait modeste
Je devenais indien
Pourtant déjà certain
Que mes oncles repus
M'avaient volé le Far West

Mon enfance passa
Les femmes aux cuisines
Où je rêvais de Chine
Vieillissaient en repas
Les hommes au fromage
S'enveloppaient de tabac
Flamands taiseux et sages
Et ne me savaient pas
Moi qui toutes les nuits
Agenouillé pour rien
Arpégeais mon chagrin
Au pied du trop grand lit
Je voulais prendre un train
Que je n'ai jamais pris

Mon enfance passa
De servante en servante
Je m'étonnais déjà
Qu'elles ne fussent point plantes
Je m'étonnais encore
De ces ronds de famille
Flânant de mort en mort
Et que le deuil habille
Je m'étonnais surtout
D'être de ce troupeau
Qui m'apprenait à pleurer
Que je connaissais trop
J'avais l'oeil du berger
Mais le coeur de l'agneau

Et mon enfance éclata
Ce fut l'adolescence
Et le mur du silence
Un matin se brisa
Ce fut la première fleur
Et la première fille
La première gentille
Et la première peur
Je volais je le jure
Je jure que je volais
Mon coeur ouvrait les bras
Je n'étais plus barbare

Et la guerre arriva

Et nous voilà ce soir.

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English

My Childhood

My childhood passed
In silent greyness
In false respectfulness
In a lack of battles.
In the winter, I was held in the belly
Of the large house
That had thrown the anchor
To the north amid the seagrass mats

In the summer, half-naked
but always modest
I would become an Indian
Somehow already certain
That my smug uncles
Had stolen the Far West from me.

My childhood passed
With women in the kitchen
Where I would dream of China
Getting older around the table
The men eating cheese,
Envelopped in clouds of tobacco
Taciturn, intelligent Flemish men
Who didn't know about me
Me, who, every night
Would kneel down for nothing
Increasing my unhappiness
At the foot of the too-big bed.
I wanted to get on a train
That I had never taken.

My childhood passed
Going from one servant to another
I was already surprised
That they never stayed the same
I was surprised again
By all the family circles
How easily they went from one death to another
And by the formal mourning.
I was surprised through all of it
To be one of this flock
That taught me to cry
This flock that I knew too well.
I had the eye of a shepherd
But the heart of a sheep

And then my childhood burst open
That was adolescence
And the wall of silence
tumbled down one morning.
This was the first flower
And the first girl
The first gentleness
And the first fear.
I was flying, I swear
I swear that I was flying
My heart was opening its arms
I was no longer a barbarian

And then the war arrived.

And here we are tonight.

Submitted by sandmonkeywoman on Thu, 17/03/2011 - 07:26
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Comments
snorio     March 17th, 2011

Thanks a lot Smile

mbg     March 19th, 2011

- qui avait jeté l'ancre Au nord parmi les joncs > which had cast anchor [= settled down] To the north among the rush (seagrass mat: tapis tressé d'herbes marines ! et on ne jette pas une ancre comme on jette une pierre) ;
- Je voulais prendre un train Que je n'ai jamais pris > I wanted to take a train I was never to take (that I had never taken: Que je n'AVAIS jamais pris)
Alternative translation of:
Mon enfance passa - My childhood passed/went by
Les femmes aux cuisines - The women in the kitchen
Où je rêvais de Chine - Where I would dream of China
Vieillissaient en repas - Grew old from meal to meal
Les hommes au fromage - Over cheese the men
S'enveloppaient de tabac - Wrapped themselves in tobacco [smoke]
Flamands taiseux et sages - Taciturn and wise Flemish men
Et ne me savaient pas - And knew not where I was/And ignored me
Moi qui toutes les nuits - I who every night
Agenouillé pour rien - Kneeling for nothing
Arpégeais mon chagrin - Would play my sorrow in arpeggio
Au pied du trop grand lit - At the foot of the too large bed
Je voulais prendre un train - I wanted to take a train
Que je n'ai jamais pris - I was never to take