Georges Brassens - Chansonnette a celle qui reste pucelle (English translation)


Chansonnette a celle qui reste pucelle

Jadis la mineure
Perdait son honneur
Au moindre faux pas
Ces mœurs n'ont plus cours de
Nos jours c'est la gourde
Qui ne le fait pas
Toute ton école
Petite, rigole
Qu'encore à seize ans
Tu sois vierge et sage
Fidèle à l'usage
Caduc à présent
Malgré les exemples
De gosses, plus ample
Informé que toi
Et qu'on dépucelle
Avec leur crécelle
Au bout de leurs doigts
Chacun te brocarde
De ce que tu gardes
Ta fleur d'oranger
Pour la bonne cause
Et chacune glose
Sur tes préjugés
Et tu sers de cible
Mais reste insensible
Aux propos moqueurs
Aux traits à la gomme
Comporte-toi comme
Te le dit ton cœur
Quoi que l'on raconte
Y a pas plus de honte
A se refuser
Ni plus de mérite
D'ailleurs, ma petite
Qu'à se faire baiser
Certes, si te presse
La soif de caresses
Cours, saute avec les
Vénus de Panurge
Va, mais si rien n'urge
Faut pas t'emballer
Mais si tu succombes
Sache surtout qu'on peut
Être passée par
Onze mille verges
Et demeurer vierge
Paradoxe à part
Submitted by Green_Sattva on Tue, 11/07/2017 - 17:33
Submitter's comments:

Written by Georges Brassens and Jean Bertola

Align paragraphs
English translation

Ditty for her who remains a virgin

Formerly, the adolescent girl
Lost her honor
At the slightest mishap
These manners are no longer present
These days it's so stupid (1)
Who doesn't do it ?
Your entire school
belittles and laughs
That at age sixteen still
You're wise and a virgin
True to the use
And presently obsolete
No matter the examples
of kids that are better
informed than you
And who are deflowered
With their ratchet (2)
On their fingertips
Everyone lampoons you
for what you safekeep
Your orange flower
For the right reasons
And everyone rambles on
About your prejudice
And you serve as target
But remain unmoved
By the stories of mockers
As they beat their gums
Behave yourself according to
What your heart tells you
No matter what you tell them
There is no more shame
To withhold oneself
Nor anymore merit
elsewhere, little honey
Than to get laid
Of course, If you feel urged
By your thirst for affection
Go and run with them
Like Venus with Panurge (3)
Go, but if nothing beckons you
Don't get carried away
But if you succumb
Know especially, one can
Go through
Eleven Thousand Dicks
And yet stay a virgin
Paradox apart
The heaven for height, and the earth for depth,
and the heart of kings is unsearchable. (Prov 25:3 KJV)
Submitted by SaintMark on Tue, 11/07/2017 - 19:57
Added in reply to request by Green_Sattva
Author's comments:

TL mine
(1) C'est la gourde.. slang expression, not sure if i caught it right
(2) crecelle, a noisemaker.. meaning a lot of kids are bragging about losing their virginity
(3) Panurge, a character from a french novel, a crafty, but cowardly lad.

Idioms from "Chansonnette a celle..."
See also
michealt    Mon, 06/11/2017 - 01:01

Not a bad translation, but it has a few problems.

In the last three lines of the 1st stanza, " mœurs" means something like "attitudes" or "expected behaviour" or "rules" or "customs" rather than manners and "Qui" in the last line is not interrogative, it's a relative pronoun (Brassens' published lyrics make this clear: he uses stops, exclamation marks, and question marks very carefully in all his published poetry, and the published lyrics for this song have a full stop at the end of line 6, not a question mark. So the last three lines of the stanze means something like "those rules are outdated these days someone who doesn't do it is silly" ( actually I thought it emeant "is thought to be silly" rather than "is silly", but the TLF gives " Emploi subst. Personne niaise, sotte" for the figuratve use of "la gourde" (as a noun).
The last two lines of the second stanza mean "faithful to the now obsolete customs" ("usage" is an option as well as "customs", and there are more).

Stanza 3: the important function of a crécelle is to make noise; the important function of a ratchet is mechanical, so ratchet is a lousy translation of crécelle in this context. I think "rattle" or even "noise-maker" would be much better. In the last line, "on their fingertips" might apply to pain or ink or jam, but the intent here is not smeared on to the fingertips but at hand for easy access, and the English phrase for that is "at their fingertips".

Stanza 7: les Venus de Panurge are like les moutons de Panurge - they just imitate mindlessly and without considering the consequances the actions of some other. I would be inclined to say "run and jump with the Venuses of the mindless herd" or something similar (remeber the sheep all ran after those in front of them to jump into the water and drown).

It might be a good idea (quite apart from the Panurge reference) to get familiar with Brassens' song "Le mouton de Panurge" which is perhaps a clearer statement of part of the idea underlying both that song and this one - that sex because it's fashionable is not a good thing, sex for love and sex for fun and even sex for money are better than sex for fashion - and then have another look at this translation and perhaps make some changes.

petit élève    Mon, 06/11/2017 - 01:37

Why are you being so grumpy? Your French is excellent and these are mere details.
Brassens is one of the finest songwriters ever, even natives have a hard time fully understanding his lyrics.
With a few tweaks your translation would be perfect. It would be a shame to let it go to waste.

michealt    Mon, 06/11/2017 - 02:18

I have a rule that when I see a translation which doesn't need too much thought to fix it to be perfect I don't write a translation of my own to compete with it, it's far more useful to give the original translator some comments because he's already demonstrated real capacity in the language.

petit élève    Mon, 06/11/2017 - 01:51

those rules are outdated these days someone who doesn't do it is silly -> Tom was spot on:
lit. "the silly girl is the only one who won't do it", "the silly girl" being meant as "the silly girl kind" (only silly girls won't do it)

Toute ton école, petite, rigole -> "petite" is a vocative here : "little girl, your whole school considers you being still a virgin a laughing matter" or something like that

Avec leur crécelle au bout de leurs doigts -> that was bit obscure to me, to say the truth. I had to lookup the excellent "analyse Brassens" site for an answer.
Apparently little country kids used to ask for eggs during Easter celebrations, using their rattle as a threat for those who were not generous enough, a bit like a French variant of Haloween's "trick or treat".
So the idea is just that the deflored girls are as young as little kids, I think.

Pour la bonne cause -> implies preserving her virginity for mariage.

traits à la gomme -> "trait" as "trait d'humour" (joke/jeer) and "à la gomme" as "lousy/crummy"

what you tell them -> that's the other way around Regular smile (no matter what they say)

Ni plus de mérite d'ailleurs -> "nor any more merit, by the way".
I find that sentence delicious. Full of Brassens' cheeky and yet tender humor.

les Vénus de Panurge -> 100% agreed with Tom

Être passée par onze mille verges -> allusion to Apollinaire's pornographic novel (which I didn't read, unfortunately), so "going through the 11,000 dicks" would just be reading the book Regular smile