Georges Brassens - À l'ombre du cœur de ma mie (English translation)

Proofreading requested

À l'ombre du cœur de ma mie

À l'ombre du cœur de ma mie
Un oiseau s'était endormi
Un jour qu'elle faisait semblant
D'être la Belle au bois dormant.
Et moi, me mettant à genoux,
Bonnes fées, sauvegardez-nous!
Sur ce cœur j'ai voulu poser
Une manière de baiser.
Alors cet oiseau de malheur
Se mit à crier : « Au voleur ! »
« Au voleur ! » et « À l'assassin ! »
Comme si j'en voulais à son sein.
Aux appels de cet étourneau,
Grand branle-bas dans Landerneau :
Tout le monde et son père accourt
Aussitôt lui porter secours.
Tant de rumeurs, de grondements,
Ont fait peur aux enchantements,
Et la belle désabusée
Ferma son cœur à mon baiser.
Et c'est depuis ce temps, ma sœur,
Que je suis devenu chasseur,
Que mon arbalète à la main
Je cours les bois et les chemins.
Submitted by michealt on Sun, 30/08/2015 - 00:23
Last edited by Joutsenpoika on Tue, 19/07/2016 - 19:07
Align paragraphs
English translation

In the shade of my dear one's heart

In the shade of my dear one's heart
A bird1 had gone to sleep
One day when the was pretending
to be Sleeping Beauty2.
And I, kneeling down
- Good fairies, keep us safe! -
wanted to place on this heart
a sort of kiss3.
Then that odd person of ill omen
started shouting "Stop thief!
Stop thief!" and "Murderer!"
As if I was going at his breast.
At the calls of this starling4,
utter chaos ensues,
everyone and his dog5 rushes up
straight away to bring him help.
So much hubub and rumbling riot
frightened all the charm away,
and the beauty, disillusioned,
shut her heart to my kiss.
And it's since that time, my sister
that I became a hunter,
that, crossbow in my hand,
I go through the woods and the paths.
  • 1. literally: "a bird"; but in 1950s slang it meant "an odd person"
  • 2. literally: "The Beauty sleeping in the Wood" which was the what the fairy tale girl was called in an early French version of the fairy tale - much earlier than any surviving German or English version
  • 3. or do rather more than kiss her
  • 4. literally "starling", continuing the "bird" theme with another slang meaning: a silly thoughtless person
  • 5. literally "everyone and his father"
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Submitted by michealt on Sun, 30/08/2015 - 01:07
Last edited by michealt on Wed, 13/09/2017 - 14:12
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petit élève    Sun, 30/08/2015 - 01:33

A flawless interpretation. Still I would have preferred to let the birds be in the translation and explain the "odd person" analogy in the footnotes. That would better convey the charm of the original, I think.
I quite liked the use of "every man and his dog". That's just in the spirit of the song.

michealt    Sun, 30/08/2015 - 13:21

I can see your point about which way up to handle the slang. Maybe I'll change it.

petit élève    Sun, 30/08/2015 - 13:33

Well this would mostly matter for a casual reader who would not want to bother with footnotes, which is fine by me. Brassens often said he just aimed to give fleeting moments of happiness to people, though he gave them much more than that in my opinion.
Still I think the song is better appreciated with a bit of pondering about, like a good wine :).

michealt    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 14:15

I forgot to move the birds from the footnotes to the text. For some reason, now, two years later, it has popped back into my mind so at last I've fixed it.

petit élève    Wed, 13/09/2017 - 14:18

Just the right time for a good wine to mature Wink smile