Tranche de vie (ইংরেজী অনুবাদ)

ইংরেজী অনুবাদইংরেজী

Slice of life

I was born in a small village
with a most unusual name,
in hedgerow country1, of course.
It's the St Martin2 village.
I was hardly five when I was taken away
with my mother and all my brothers.
My father reckoned there would be a job
in the city where the Seine flows3
After so many years
I'm still stuck wondering
whether life is worth it, you see,
and, in short, what use it is to be born
The capital is well and good,
'specially when seen from Passy4,
but from Nanterre or Charenton
it looks a lot less pleasant.
I can easily figure
what my father experienced
since I went through the same annoying mess
only fifteen years later.
In the morning you're stuck
queueing for a crappy job,
in the afternoon you try to excite
the pity of charitable old bags
My mother was all at sea,
deprived of her rabbits and chicks.
I'd like to see you try filling up
five toddlers' bellies with no money.
To polish my education
there was5 the concrete primary school.
Lots of pedagogy going on there,
in front of 60 over-playful kids.
Beside the ABC and counting
I got my fill of kicks in the ass.
I also learned Arabic and Portuguese
without anybody asking me to
The good life ends when you turn 15
Your days as a kid are over.
I ended up with my hands in petrol,
rubbing car spare parts.
10 hours on end in a garage
is quite fulfilling for the youth
and remarkably healthy too.
Makes you very fond of the world.
There's more to come...
When you're not too stupid
you don't gather dust there.
You naturally find a way
to do a less tiring job.
I stepped into a nasty gang
committing misdeeds in the country.
I learned songs of Bruant's
while playing hide and seek6 with the pigs
Of course the coppers7 grabbed me
soon as I put a foot wrong.
You're one lucky guy,
the FLN needs looking after
I'm off for three years on the firing line
Aurès, Kabylie, Mitidja8
that's enough to take a dislike to the whole of Africa,
but this is what it takes to serve your country.9
When they set me free I was spent,
empty like a small paper bag.
Nothing left in there, all broken.
I didn't even fancy a chick.
Just as I thought I would wake up,
the cops beat me real hard.
To be fair I must say I had
chucked a few cobblestones at them.
As far as money is concerned,
the cops will repay you in full and then some.
They gave me in the skull, the belly and the balls.
In short, long live the Nation.10
The judge gave me three years
because of my track record.
I couldn't say I'm overjoyed,
but three years isn't that long at all.
In the slammer I'll be able to blossom
in a structured society.
I'll be crafting slippers and brooms
and I'll get back into reading.
I was born in a small village
with a most unusual name,
in hedgerow country, of course.
It's the St Martin village.
  • 1. which was already gone when the song was written. Most hedgerows were bulldozed flat shortly after WWII to increase cultivable area
  • 2. a most common village name, of course
  • 3. Paris, no doubt, though Rouen also fits the bill
  • 4. A posh neighbourhood. Nanterre and Charenton are suburban small towns right next to Paris. Both were poor at the time the song was written.
  • 5. from there on the French occasionally switches to present tense, a common narrative style. I stuck with the past for readability
  • 6. lit. "tripping the cops"
  • 7. French cops are nicknamed "poulets" (chickens). This common slang name for the police is something like "Broilers Inc." Teeth smile
  • 8. three locations in Algeria where the war was especially nasty
  • 9. "either you serve the country (for real), or you don't (at all)"
  • 10. ??? that's what the cops said while they were giving him a beating, apparently
Do whatever you want with my translations.
They no more belong to me than the air I breathe.
silencedsilenced দ্বারা বৃহস্পতি, 10/10/2019 - 02:36 তারিখ সাবমিটার করা হয়
RomaintRomaint এর অনুরোধের জবাবে যোগ করা হলো
লেখকের মন্তব্য:

J'aime bien Béranger, même s'il est aussi subtil qu'un marteau piqueur.


Tranche de vie

"Tranche de vie" এর আরও অনুবাদ
ইংরেজী silenced
François Béranger: সেরা 3
Idioms from "Tranche de vie"
SchnurrbratSchnurrbrat    বৃহস্পতি, 10/10/2019 - 03:11

Thanks, Pier. Interesting lyrics, thoroughly translated.
Could you please explain what happens with our protagonist in the verse about the Algerian war?
Is he sent to front? Was it a punishment? How it worked back then?

silencedsilenced    বৃহস্পতি, 10/10/2019 - 04:14

Béranger was a left wing activist, so he might have gotten a bit carried away.

You can enlist in the Foreign Legion and get all charges dropped. That's still in effect nowadays. It's not for the faint of the heart though, and I doubt the song goes about that solution.
Except for that, I know of no legal means in France of "redeeming yourself by blood".
It is well possible that such deals as dropping charges in exchange for an enlistment were struck unofficially, but this war was a serious trauma (all civil wars are). Many legends circulate, but it's pretty difficult to collect hard facts about it.

The war in Algeria was a massive military commitment, involving between 400 000 and 800 000 metropolitan troops at a given time in the 1955-1962 period. By comparison, the infamous precursor to the Vietnam war involved only about 50 000 metropolitan troops and 15 000 foreign legion, the rest (about 40 000) being local forces or colonial troops.

The French army worked on a conscription system, so about any able-bodied 18 years old male citizen was likely to be drafted and sent to Algeria. Of course you could slip through it with enough social prestige, so rich kids were less frequently sent to do the dirty work. There was also no recognition of conscientious objectors back then. Those refusing to be drafted were simply sent to jail as deserters.
To keep the troops at their full complement, conscription time had to be extended up to 28 months. At its peak, the amount of non-professional soldiers exceeded half a million (about 1% of the 50 millions population at the time).

You might want to have a listen to this song, it's about paratrooper units, that had a very controversial role during the war, notably regarding the use of torture.
Here is a working vid (this bloody awful French Youtube challenger never seems to work)