Charles Aznavour - La bohème (English translation)

English translation

La bohème

Versions: #1#2#3#4
...I tell you about a time
...That teenagers (lit.: those less than 20 years old) cannot know about
...At that time, Montmartre hung its lilacs (pale blue or white, early-blooming flowers)
...right up to our windows, and even if our humble furnished room
...That served us as a (love-)nest didn't look like much
...It was there that we knew each other
...Me, crying hunger, and you, posing in the nude
...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "one is happy"
...La boème, la bohème. We only ate once every two days.
...In the neighbouring cafes
...We were people
...that waited for glory (fame) and although miserable
...with empty stomacs (lit.: hollow bellies)
...we never stopped believing [in it] and when some pub (of course, 'bistro' is a typically french café) exchange for a warm meal
...accepted a painting (lit.: a canvas), we recited verses
...gathered around the stove, forgetting about winter.
...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "you are pretty"
...La bohème, la bohème, and all of us were geniuses (lit.: 'had genius')
...Often [it happened to me that],
...before my easel, (i.e. the stand upon which a painter puts the canvas he is working on)
...I spent sleepless nights
...touching up (=making minor corrections to) the drawing
...of the line of a breast
...of the figure of a hip, and only at morning sat down at last
...before a café-crème (coffee with much hot milk)
...exhausted, but exhillarated
...It must have been so that we loved each other, and that we loved life (a rather stiff translation of a fluent French sentence, but I don't know how to put it otherwise)
...La bohème, la bohème. That meant "one was twenty years old"
...La bohème, la bohème and we lived from the 'spirit of the age' (That's literally what 'air du temps' means, but I'm sure that's not the right way to put it in English. In French it has the connotation of living from air and nothing else, especially nothing material while at the same time referring to the typical feeling in society at that particular time)
...When, some days in a whim
...I go out and take a walk my old address
...I no longer recognise
...nor the walls, nor the streets
...that witnessed (lit.: saw) my youth
...At the top of a stairway
...I search for the workshop
...of which nothing remains
...In its new décor
...Montmartre looks sad, and the lilacs have died.
...La bohème, la bohème. We were young, we were crazy
...La bohème, la bohème. It doesn't mean anything at all anymore.
Submitted by cortom on Thu, 10/01/2008 - 22:00

La bohème

Guest    Tue, 05/01/2010 - 23:11

Thanks a lot!

David _    Sat, 04/03/2017 - 02:04

Thanks for the great translation.
I guess air du temps means zeitgeist
Also, my french is about a million years old now and not very good but I seem to remember
ni... ni
meant neither .... nor
But I thought this translation was excellent. Thank you.