Complainte de la butte (English translation)

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French

Complainte de la butte

En haut de la rue St-Vincent
Un poète et une inconnue
S'aimèrent l'espace d'un instant
Mais il ne l'a jamais revue
 
Cette chanson il composa
Espérant que son inconnue
Un matin d'printemps l'entendra
Quelque part au coin d'une rue
 
La lune trop blême
Pose un diadème
Sur tes cheveux roux
La lune trop rousse
De gloire éclabousse
Ton jupon plein d'trous
 
La lune trop pâle
Caresse l'opale
De tes yeux blasés
Princesse de la rue
Soit la bienvenue
Dans mon cœur blessé
 
Les escaliers de la butte sont durs aux miséreux
Les ailes des moulins protègent les amoureux
 
Petite mandigote
Je sens ta menotte
Qui cherche ma main
Je sens ta poitrine
Et ta taille fine
J'oublie mon chagrin
 
Je sens sur tes lèvres
Une odeur de fièvre
De gosse mal nourri
Et sous ta caresse
Je sens une ivresse
Qui m'anéantit
 
Les escaliers de la butte sont durs aux miséreux
Les ailes des moulins protègent les amoureux
 
Mais voilà qu'il flotte
La lune se trotte
La princesse aussi
Sous le ciel sans lune
Je pleure à la brune
Mon rêve évanoui
 
Submitted by petitbalperdu on Tue, 21/02/2012 - 20:02
Submitter's comments:

this "complainte", written by Jean Renoir in 1955 to the music of George Van Parys, has become a classic French chanson and has been interpreted by many, incl. André Claveau, Patachou, Mouloudji, most recently by Rufus Wainwright.

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English translation

Complaint of La Butte

High up on rue St-Vincent
A poet and a stranger
Loved in the flicker of a song
But never did they again meet
 
He composed this little song
In hopes it would chance reach her
One fine morning of the spring
Somewhere on some street corner
 
The moon all too fair
In your russet-red hair
Sets a sparkling crown
The moon all too red
With glory is spread
On your poor, tattered gown
 
The moon all too white
Caresses the light
In your world-weary eyes
Princess of the street
Do allow me to greet you
My broken heart cries
 
The stairways up to La Butte can make a wretched sigh
While windmill wings of the moulin shelter you and I
 
I feel, beggar-girl,
Your fetters, they curl
As they seek my hand
I feel your young breasts
Your thin little waist
My sorrow’s at end
 
I taste on your mouth
The feverish bout
Of a malnourished waif
And under your caress
A quiet happiness
Has captured my faith
 
The stairways up to La Butte can make a wretched sigh
While windmill wings of the moulin shelter you and I
 
And see how she skips
The moon how she drifts,
The princess in tow
Under a moonless sky
I weep at twilight
My reverie’s flown
 
Submitted by petitbalperdu on Tue, 21/02/2012 - 21:32
Author's comments:

I have left La Butte (the hill, Montmartre) and moulin (windmill) untranslated as in the version sung by Rufus Wainwright. Parts of the translation were borrowed from an anonymous source

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