Lads o'The Fair (French translation)

Proofreading requested
English (Scots)

Lads o'The Fair

Come, bonnie lass, lie near me,
And let the brandy cheer ye,
For the road frae Fife tae Falkirk's lang
And cauld an’ wet an' weary.
My trade, it is the weavin’
In the bonnie toon o' Leven;
An' we'll drink to the health o' the fairmer's dames
Who'll buy oor claith the morn
For ye can see them a', the lads o' the fair,
Lads frae the Forth an' the Carron Water,
Warkin' lads an' lads wi' gear,
Lads that'll sell ye the provost's dochter,
Sodgers back frae the German Wars,
Peddlers up frae the Border;
An' lassies wi' an eye for mair than the kye,
At the tryst an' fair at Falkirk.
Come, Geordie, haud the pony
for the path is steep an' stony,
An' we're three lang weeks frae the Isle o' Skye.
An' the beasts are thin an' bony.
We'll tak the last o' the siller.
An' we'll buy oorsels a gill or two;
An' we'll drink tae lads who'll buy oor kye.
In Falkirk toon the morn.
Stan here an' A'll show ye,
there's the toon below ye.
But ye'd best bide here in the barn the nicht
For the nichtwatch dinna know ye.
Ma brither, he's a plooman
An' A'm for the feein' noo, man;
An' we'll drink tae the price o' the harvest corn
In Falkirk toon the morn.
O, the wark o' the weaver's owre,
likewise the days o' the drover,
An' a plooboy sits on a tractor noo;
(too high tae see the clover)
The warkin's nae sae steady,
but the lads are aye still ready,
For tae drink a health tae the workin' man
In Falkirk toon the morn.
Submitted by Ove ErikssonOve Eriksson on Thu, 07/03/2019 - 16:14
Last edited by Ove ErikssonOve Eriksson on Fri, 15/03/2019 - 01:57
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French translation

Les gars de la foire

Allez ma belle, viens t'asseoir par ici
et bois un coup, ça va te faire du bien
pour la route de Fife à Falkirk,
le froid, la pluie et la fatigue.
Je suis tisserand de mon état
dans la bonne ville de Leven.
Et buvons à la santé des femmes de fermiers
qui demain m'achèteront mes étoffes.
Les voilà, tous nos gars de la foire.
Des gars de Forth et de Carron Water,
des travailleurs, des gens de bien,
et aussi quelques fiers gredins1
Des soldats revenus de la guerre2,
des colporteurs venus de la frontière,
et des filles qui ne regardent pas que les vaches,
c'est la fête3 à la foire de Falkirk.
Allez, Geordie, tiens-moi le poney,
le chemin est raide et plein de caillasse.
Déjà trois semaines qu'on a quitté notre île de Skye,
et les bêtes n'ont plus que la peau sur les os.
On va racler le fond de nos poches
et se payer un verre4 ou deux,
à la santé des gars qui achèteront nos vaches,
demain matin à Falkirk.
Venez par ici, que je vous montre :
Pour la ville, c'est par là.5
mais vous feriez mieux de dormir dans la grange,
les gars du guet n'ont jamais vu vos têtes.
Mon frère, il est laboureur
et moi je suis parti faire le métayer.
on boira au prix de la prochaine moisson,
demain matin à Falkirk.
Le tisserand a fini sa journée,
et le vacher aussi.
Le laboureur est perché sur un tracteur
(trop haut pour voir le trèfle6)
Le travail est achevé,
mais les gars sont tout prêts
à lever un verre à la santé des travailleurs
demain matin à Falkirk
  • 1. "d'autres qui vous vendraient la fille du maire" Regular smile
  • 2. "contre les Allemands" : la 2nde guerre mondiale, la chanson date de bien après
  • 3. plutôt "rendez-vous galant", mais c'est un peu dur à caser
  • 4. lit. "quart de pinte", donc sans doute du whisky ou un alcool fort
  • 5. "la ville est en-dessous de vous"
  • 6. probablement une allusion aux paysans qui examinent soigneusement le trèfle pour être sûr qu'il n'est pas moisi avant de le donner à manger à leurs bêtes. "to be in the clover" peut aussi vouloir dire "vivre dans l'aisance", il y a peut-être un double sens
Submitted by ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte on Sat, 09/03/2019 - 03:32
Last edited by ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte on Wed, 13/03/2019 - 12:55
Author's comments:

[@michealt] I would really appreciate a second opinion here, Tom.

The author of translation requested proofreading.
It means that he/she will be happy to receive corrections, suggestions etc about the translation.
If you are proficient in both languages of the language pair, you are welcome to leave your comments.
More translations of "Lads o'The Fair"
Dick Gaughan: Top 3
See also
Ove ErikssonOve Eriksson    Mon, 11/03/2019 - 21:56

Hello friend, although my knowledge of français consists of fragments only, would you please consider that there could be a little mistake in your translation? In the second stanza it reads:

"We'll tak the last o' the siller.
An' we'll buy oorsels a gill or two;"

which you translated into:

"On va racler le fond de nos poches
et se payer une bière ou deux,"

Sorry, but my poor French was enough to order a beer, yet that was certainly not what is sung about in this song. A quarter of a pint, or two, would rather mean buying some whisky, or brandy, wouldn't it?

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Mon, 11/03/2019 - 22:13

You're quite right. That would be too small for a beer. I'll fix that.

By the way, I also interpreted "clover" a bit differently. Apparently "to be in clover" can mean "to have comfortable savings" or something like that.
I thought that image of "not being able to see clover" could allude to these workers not being too wealthy.
What do you think?

Also this "for the feeing", I assume it's about agreeing on the price of the harvest? Or did I miss some other meaning?

Ove ErikssonOve Eriksson    Mon, 11/03/2019 - 22:50

Okej Regular smile

As for the clover, it's really difficult to come to terms here. Peasants haven't been wealthy at all over many centuries in Europe, so maybe it was meant that nowadays few rich land owners can afford a tractor on their own and have their lands worked? Without seeing the little ones belonging to the country life, like the clover? It's rather a guess of mine, but Dick's attitude seems to tell me that I'm right on it Wink smile

As for "for the feeing noo" is perhaps meaning another deed the singer would like to do to his opponent, since "Geordie" doesn't mean his companion is strictly a man. Well, in this case just someone from Northern England perhaps rather a girl? That would make sense, don't ye think?

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Mon, 11/03/2019 - 23:13

Mmm yes, this "clover" is a bit mysterious. Perhaps we should ask [@michealt] about it?

As for this "feeing", here is how I put the lines in standard English:

My brother is a ploughman
and I am (here) for the feeing now, man
And we'll drink to the price of the harvest(ed) corn...

It seems rather straightforward to me: the guy is there for the "feeing", and apparently that matches the idea of agreeing on a price.
So did what did I miss?

Ove ErikssonOve Eriksson    Mon, 11/03/2019 - 23:36

Aye, we should!

As for the "feeing", my Scots glossary reads: "fee = engagement as a servant", so maybe you are right and I'm wrong, if @michealt will help us, here's hope he can say how it was really meant. To me it makes no sense to agree to a price at night when the harvest will be sold at the fair the next day Confused smile

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Tue, 12/03/2019 - 00:27

He should be notified by this [@michealt] tag. Magic!

QardelenQardelen    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 11:40

It sounds like: My brother is a ploughman and I'm feeing(labouring for cash). The Scotts have a funny way of using their verbs.

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 11:46

I don't question your English, but it seems strange to me. Why would he be going to town? The next line seems to indicate he's there to sell the harvest.

cholpancholpan    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 13:03

He is a weaver. They are actually heading to the Isle of Sky. They are passing by Falkirk. They are short of cash and their horses are really skinny. They have some cloth to sell. They'll also sell the cow. So they are hoping that corn prices would be good for the farmers so they can also sell their cloth and cow for a decent amount of silver. Listen to the song again and you'll understand the meaning of Feeing. It means laboring for cash I think. The Scotts are funny with the use of their verbs. For instance, they would say 'bearin' for a child. They use the 'ing' suffix in its archaic form sometimes. Bear+ing, Fee+ing e.t.c. I stayed around Fife for a few months. They talk funny like that I know.

Come, fair girl, lie near me,
And let the brandy cheer you,
For the road from Fife to Falkirk is long,
And cold and wet and weary.
My trade, it is the weaving
In the fair town of Leven;
And we'll drink to the health of the farmer's mistress
Who'll buy our cloth in the morn'

For you can see them and, the lads of the fair,
Lads from the Forth and the Carron Water,
Working lads and lads with gear,
Lads that'll sell you the provost's daughter,
Soldiers back from the German Wars,
Peddlers up from the Border;
And girls with an eye for more than the cow,
At the tryst and fair of Falkirk.

Come, Geordie, haul the pony
for the path is steep and stony,
And we're three long weeks away from the Isle of Skye.
And the beasts are thin and bony.
We'll take the last of the silver.
And we'll buy ourselves a gill or two;
And we'll drink to the lads who'll buy our cow
In Falkirk town in the morn'.


Stand here and I'll show you,
there's the town below you.
But you'd best bide here in the barn for the night
For the night-watch don't know you.
My brother, he's a plowman
And I'm for the feeing' now, man;
And we'll drink to the price of the harvest corn
In Falkirk town the morn.


O, the grafting on the weaver's oars,
likewise the days of the drover,
And a plowboy sits on a tractor now;
(too high to see the clover)
The working is not so steady,
but the lads are aye still ready,
For to drink a health to the working man
In Falkirk town the morn.

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 12:52

Ok, I see. Looks much clearer in plain standard English Regular smile
Thanks a lot. You should publish this, it's quite helpful.

cholpancholpan    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 14:27

I have grammar issues. I make many silly mistakes here and there. It is better if you could check it for mistakes and then publish it. It is all yours Regular smile

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 14:16

That's generous of you. I'm no native either though. Maybe Tom would be more suited to that job?

michealtmichealt    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 10:17

chorus line 6: Scotts "frae" = English "from", so "pour" should be "de"

stanza 2: "gill" - surely it should match stanza 1I guess it would be brandy (matching stanza 1).

clover in the last stanza. I'm just guessing here, but I think the point may be that in a previous generation the plough would have been pulled by a horse, and the ploughboy or ploughman would have walked, leading the horse and spotting any mouldy clover to make sure the horse didn't eat it. Non-mouldy clover is extremely good horse food, but when it gets mouldy (usually in hot wet weather) it is extremely had for the horse. Obviously a tractor won't eat clover, which is just as well as spotting mouldy clover from on top of a tractor is rather difficult. On the other hand, there my be a variant of the "in the clover" idiom here, as Pierre suggested. But why on earth do you have "blé" rather than "trèfle"? Clover and wheat are very very different plants.

ingirumimusnocteingirumimusnocte    Wed, 13/03/2019 - 10:58

Well I just understood "gill" as a kind of glass. Like "prendre un verre" can be about anything from beer to brandy. I was careless in my adaptation.

"blé" is one of the many names of money (something like "dough"). That was an attempt at rendering "in the clover" as wealthy, but a feeble one anyway. I quite like this mouldy clover idea, that makes perfect sense to me.