La tondue (English translation)

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Proofreading requested
English translation

The girl whose head was shaved

The good-looker who slept with the King of Prussia,
with the King of Prussia2,
whose skull they shaved absolutely bare,
shaved absolutely bare,
 
her marked fondness for hearing "ich liebe dich"3,
for hearing "ich liebe dich",
earned her the wearing of some false hair,
some false hair.
 
The brave sans-culottes4, et les bonnets phrygiens,
et les bonnets phrygiens5,
delivered her mane to a shearer of dogs,
to a shearer of dogs.
 
I ought to have to some extent taken the part of her hair,
taken the part of her har,
I should have spoken to save her topknot,
to save her topknot.
 
But I didn't come out from the depths of my torpor,
the depths of my torpor,
The hair cutters in strength frightened me,
in strength frightened me.
 
When, worse than a crew-cut, she had been shaved,
she had been shaved,
I said "It's sad, these kiss-curls going to waste,
these crush-curls going to waste
 
and, picking up one of them that was lying in the ditch,
that was lying in the ditch,
I placed it, like a flower, in my buttonhole,
in my buttonhole.
 
On seeing me leave displaying my quiff,
displaying my quiff 6
all those cutters of plaits looked at me suspiciously,
looked at me suspiciously.
 
Since I don't deserve anything much,
don't deserve anything much,
I don't have a Cross of Honour, I don't have a Cross of War,
I don't have a Cross of War,
 
and that doesn't bother me too much,
bother me too much.
I have my own rosette: it is a kiss-curl,
it is a kiss-curl.
 
  • 1. Some analysis and explanations are given here.
  • 2. any member of the german operating forces who had acquired a French girlfriend
  • 3. German for "I love you"
  • 4. revolutionaries in the late 18th centry French revolution
  • 5. bonnets of a type worn by freed roman slaves and adopted as a symbol/badge by some of the sans-culottes
  • 6. the French is a pun that doesn't work in English: toupet can mean cheek or nerve, and wearing that lock of hair as if it were an honorable decoration was cheeky and certainly required nerve
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Submitted by michealtmichealt on Tue, 22/08/2017 - 15:59
Last edited by michealtmichealt on Mon, 22/01/2018 - 01:41
Author's comments:

I think Brassens was probably right to regard the hair-cutters of 1944 & 1945 as something rather unpleasant. From what I've heard, most of them had been very quiet and helpful to the occupational forces until it was safe to sound patriotic. Their victims generally hadn't been particularly heplful to the occupiers, they'd merely fallen in love with a private soldier who hated all this war stuff just as much as they did.

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La tondue

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