Russia is waging a disgraceful war on Ukraine.     Stand With Ukraine!

Ma France (English translation)


Ma France

De plaines en forêts de vallons en collines
Du printemps qui va naître à tes mortes saisons
De ce que j'ai vécu à ce que j'imagine
Je n'en finirai pas d'écrire ta chanson
Ma France
Au grand soleil d'été qui courbe la Provence
Des genêts de Bretagne aux bruyères d'Ardèche
Quelque chose dans l'air a cette transparence
Et ce goût du bonheur qui rend ma lèvre sèche
Ma France
Cet air de liberté au-delà des frontières
Aux peuples étrangers qui donnait le vertige
Et dont vous usurpez aujourd'hui le prestige
Elle répond toujours du nom de Robespierre
Ma France
Celle du vieil Hugo tonnant de son exil
Des enfants de cinq ans travaillant dans les mines
Celle qui construisit de ses mains vos usines
Celle dont monsieur Thiers a dit qu'on la fusille
Ma France
Picasso tient le monde au bout de sa palette
Des lèvres d'Éluard s'envolent des colombes
Ils n'en finissent pas tes artistes prophètes
De dire qu'il est temps que le malheur succombe
Ma France
Leurs voix se multiplient à n'en plus faire qu'une
Celle qui paie toujours vos crimes vos erreurs
En remplissant l'histoire et ses fosses communes
Que je chante à jamais celle des travailleurs
Ma France
Celle qui ne possède en or que ses nuits blanches
Pour la lutte obstiné de ce temps quotidien
Du journal que l'on vend le matin d'un dimanche
A l'affiche qu'on colle au mur du lendemain
Ma France
Qu'elle monte des mines descende des collines
Celle qui chante en moi la belle la rebelle
Elle tient l'avenir, serré dans ses mains fines
Celle de trente-six à soixante-huit chandelles
Ma France
  • la Provence:

    région du sud-est de la France métropolitaine. voir ou

  • Bretagne:

    région du nord-ouest de la France métropolitaine. voir ou

  • bruyères:

  • Ardèche:

    département du sud-est de France métropolitaine. voir

  • genêts:

  • Robespierre:

    Maximilien de Robespierre, figure importance de la révolution française qui participa notamment à l'instauration de la Terreur. voir ou

  • Hugo:

    Victor Hugo, homme de Lettres français, qui est parti en exil dans les îles Jersey et Guernesey en signe d'opposition au Second Empire. voir

  • monsieur Thiers:

    Adolphe Thiers, notamment connu pour avoir dirigé la Troisième République et la répression de la Commune. voir ou

  • Picasso:

    Pablo Picasso, artiste espagnol qui vécut la plupart de sa vie en France (mais n'en acquit jamais la nationalité). voir

  • Éluard:

    Paul Éluard, poète français à tendance communiste. voir

  • colombes:

    référence à la colombe de la paix de Picasso et au symbole de la paix qu'elles représentent

  • obstiné:


  • trente-six:

    1936 - gouvernement du Front Populaire en France

  • soixante-huit:

    référence à mai 68, période de manifestation sociale. voir

  • chandelles:

    jeu de mots entre 'chandelles', 'bougies' et 'années'

Submitted by MalivoneMalivone on Fri, 05/09/2014 - 15:36
Last edited by Sophia_Sophia_ on Fri, 23/10/2020 - 11:07
Submitter's comments:
English translationEnglish
Align paragraphs

My France

From lowlands to forests, from vales to hills
From the spring to be born to your dead seasons (1)
From what I lived to what I imagine
I shall not stop writing your song
My France
In the great Summer sun which curves Provence
From brooms of Brittany to heathers of Ardèche (2)
Something in the air has that transparency
And that taste for happiness that makes my lip dry
My France
That air of freedom beyond borders
Which used to take foreign people's breath away
And which whom you nowadays usurp the prestige
She still answers for the name of Robespierre
My France
The one of old Hugo railing from his exile (3)
Of five years old children working in the mines
The one who built with her hands your factories
The one whom mister Thiers said :"Lets' shoot her !" (4)
My France
Picasso holds the world at the tip of his palette
From Eluard's lips some doves fly away (5)
They do not stop, your prophetic artists,
To say "It's time for misfortune to succumb"
My France
Their voices multiply to make but one
The one who always pays for your crimes, your mistakes
Filling History and its mass graves
May I sing forever the workers' one (6)
My France
The one who has her sleepless nights for only gold
For the stubborn struggle of that daily time
From newspapers you sell on a Sunday morning (7 )
To the poster you hang on a wall the day after (8 )
My France
May she rise from mines, descend from hills
The one who sings in me, the pretty, the rebel
She holds the future tight in her thin hands
The one from thirty-six to sixty-eight candles (9)
My France
thanked 39 times
Submitted by cyr22cyr22 on Thu, 12/02/2015 - 13:02
Last edited by cyr22cyr22 on Wed, 02/12/2015 - 15:22
Author's comments:

(1) "morte saison" is usually translated as "off season" but I thought it was too prosaic here and didn't reflect the author's intention

(2) Provence, Brittany and Ardèche are french cultural and administrative regions/departments

(3) Victor Hugo, among the greatest and most famous french writers in History

(4) Adolphe Thiers was a president under the 3rd French republic and is historically considered, at least in popular culture, to be responsible for the bloody repression of the Paris Commune in May 1871

(5) Paul Eluard, famous french poet from the early 20th century, a major member of the dadaist and surrealist artistic movements

(6) Because in French the word is the same for "story" and "history", the author switches in this verse from one meaning to the other

(7) As the author talks about the working classes' bravery here, it could be assumed that he evokes L'Humanité (lit. The Mankind ), the press organ of French communist party, as Ferrat himself was a supporter of it, though he never was an official member

(8 ) litteral translation would be "on the day after's wall" but I didn't like the sound of it

(9 ) subtle pun using several linguistic and historical concepts : "to see stars" translates as "voir 36 chandelles " (lit. "to see thirty-six candles" ); sixty-eight arguably refers to May 1968, month historically renowned for having seen the biggest social contestation movement in France since the end of WW II ; and the author uses the tradition of birthday candles to mean that the France he belongs to has a wide variety of ages

Your rating: None Average: 5 (1 vote)
Translations of "Ma France"
English cyr22
Collections with "Ma France"
MalivoneMalivone    Thu, 12/02/2015 - 13:25

Merci beaucoup pour votre traduction... Que dis-je ? Un véritable commentaire historico-linguistique de l'une des plus belle chanson de Ferrat !

Je vous donnerais bien 5 étoiles, mais je ne suis pas suffisamment compétente en anglais pour en juger. En tout cas, pour moi, c'est parfait ! Wink smile

À bientôt,

cyr22cyr22    Mon, 16/02/2015 - 10:03

Merci beaucoup de votre sympathique appréciation Wink smile
A bientôt Regular smile

peterwpeterw    Tue, 22/09/2015 - 21:31

In v4 "Des enfants de 5 ans" means "Children aged 5"
In v2 "courbe", you may prefer "arcs round"

cyr22cyr22    Wed, 11/11/2015 - 10:56

First, thank you for your suggestions Regular smile

For V4, I do prefer "five years old children" as a formulation...which made me realize I had forgotten "old" so thanks
For V2, could you be more explicit please ? I could not find an occurrence of "arc" existing as a verb, yet "courbe" here is the verb, not the noun

Thank you anyway

Torpedo23Torpedo23    Sat, 12/06/2021 - 20:59

Maybe rather "five-year-old children"?
The verb "to arc" does exist, to say that something curves, but I don't think using it would make much of a difference, considering how "curves Provence" seems to work well here.

differentpolicedifferentpolice    Sat, 25/06/2016 - 08:41

I know that in French, 'trente-six' is used idiomatically to mean any large number (like English 'umpteen' or 'however many'), but in this context -- "36 to 68" -- don't you think it refers to the Front Populaire of 1936 -- France's only, and short-lived, Communist government?

cyr22cyr22    Fri, 10/03/2017 - 15:15

It's very possible Regular smile ! Thank you, it is one of my 5-6 favourite ones from Ferrat and I had never thought of it this way Regular smile ! This single line is really rich in terms of historical reference Wink smile
Still, to be fair, it was a time when socialist and communist parties were far closer that they are now, so we might say that Front Populaire was more globally left-wing than truly communist. It was less distinctive than now at least ^^

Torpedo23Torpedo23    Sat, 12/06/2021 - 21:00

Oh, absolutely! I'm on board with that interpretation - that's actually how I had always perceived the sentence, actually, considering Ferrat's background!

Torpedo23Torpedo23    Sat, 12/06/2021 - 20:55

Pretty good, with footnotes to help with references! (:

Read about music throughout history