Damien Saez - Ami de Liège (English translation)

English translation

Friend From Liège

You, my friend from Liège
You, cut down by life, by the human beast that spreads throughout here
You, my friend from Liège
You, little brother of the night, who sang poetry, like one who sings of life.
You, my friend, departed far too early for down there, or rather up there
You, the martyr of Liège
You, my friend that knows the price of violence, the price of ignorance
You, my friend down there, give them a greeting to those we've lost
Those that just like you have left before their time
And say to yourself, we’ll be by your side
Like a Hail Mary that sings Hallelujah
To drink a Liege beer or to sing Verdun,1 to sing this flat country that is yours2
This country that cries for you and me in the studio and I, the humble bard who sings platitudes
You, my friend from Liège, from Paris or Roubaix, of palaces or towers, yes from Saint Petersburg
I have a fist raised to the heavens like a never-ending struggle, I have my fist that clenches to take your hand, to tell you that my heart, always in memory, will keep your light in eternal hope
Will keep your light in eternal hope…
You my friend, goodbye, at least, here on earth
Let's bury our eyes in these cemeteries
May the flowers of December carry your scent
May they sing your name to the eternal spray of the sea
And may it fly heavenwards, the blood of swallows
May they carry your soul beyond the eternal
May it fly to the eternal, the song of swallows
May they carry your soul beyond the eternal
  • 1. refers to a song by Michel Fugain, see comments
  • 2. refers to song by Jacques Brel, see comments
Submitted by tdwarms on Sun, 05/11/2017 - 02:38
Author's comments:

Written in memory of the 2011 Liège attack. See more here.
The song by Michel Fougain that is refered to is "C'est pas ma faute si j'ai pas fait Verdun." See here.
The song by Jacques Brel that is refered to is "Le Plat Pays." See here.

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Ami de Liège

More translations of "Ami de Liège"
Idioms from "Ami de Liège"
See also
sandring    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 10:24

Speechlessly impressed, thank you!

tdwarms    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 10:26

No, thank you! I didn't think it was good enough to warrant such a vote. I was rather waiting for a native speaker's input. Regular smile

tdwarms    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 10:33

Just the man I had in mind. Regular smile

petit élève    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:02

qui chantait le poème -> I'd probably go without article here, "le poème" being meant as "poetry" (the concept of poem)
like one who sings life -> rather "like one sings life [itself]"

Et dis toi bientôt -> say to yourself (remember, keep in mind)

près de toi -> at your side, near you (i.e. they will rejoin him in heavens)

Verdun -> definetly worth a footnote, the song is so thoroughly forgotten that you can't even find a vid on youtube
ce plat pays qui est le tien -> might be worth a footnote too Regular smile

chante des bateaux -> "bateau" is meant as "platitude", "banality" here (he feels his words are inadequate)

de Saint Petersbourg -> for some reason Saez seems to have a thing for St Petersburg. One of his nice early songs btw

qui se sert pour te prendre la main -> "sert" is most likely wrong. "qui se serre" (that clenchs) makes a lot more sense here

surtout à la terre
Remettons nos yeux -> "surtout" sounds pretty odd here, like "the most important thing to do is...", while I would have expected "maintenant" (and now) or something like that.
Then there is a double entendre: "let's bury our eyes" ("remettre à la terre" is an idiomatic expression for burial) or "let's lower our eyes to the ground", said in a rather odd way. Sounds like a convoluted pun with no real justification to me (the second meaning makes little sense).
Frankly that's where you see Saez is in a rough spot. That sounds quite over the top to me. His best songs have far less convoluted lyrics, in my opinion.

Que s'envole l'éternel -> "the eternal", might be the eternal soul or memory of his friend or something, that sounds a bit odd in French too.

tdwarms    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:13

You're the best! Thanks so much. I think I made all of the adjustments.

Is it common to say "chanter des bateaux" to refer to saying platitudes? Ironically, the "let's bury our eyes" sounds *really* good to me in English. It must just not sound so clever in French, or maybe I'm just weird...

petit élève    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:32

"chanter des bateaux" is not usual at all, but the meaning is pretty clear.
"bateau" is rather used as an adjective to mean "platitude" : "des paroles bateau", "c'est bateau ce que tu racontes"...

well "bury your eyes" might be seen as surrealistic poetry, why not?
I just feel all this is a bit too convoluted for my taste. If you look at what he wrote earlier, he did not resort to such complicated tricks to write beautiful poetry. Just my opinion, of course.

tdwarms    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:23

Very interesting! I'm going to have to explore more of his music. Regular smile

petit élève    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:26

At some point he was considered by some to be one of the finest French songwriters. His first albums were very good indeed. Definetly worth a look, in my opinion.

tdwarms    Sun, 05/11/2017 - 11:26

"Saint Petersbourg" that you linked to is very beautiful. Regular smile