Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Les Croquants - Admiration for a girl who is a free spirit

This is a neat and musical song on Brassens’ familiar themes. He tells how respectable parents hand over their daughters in marriage to men of superior status because of their narrow obsession with their future wealth and social status. The result is marriages that are routine, loveless and set until death. In contrast is the girl who loves a man for what he is and not for what has. She is a free spirit, whose life is full of new experiences as she gives her love when and only when she pleases.







Les Croquants
Les croquants(1) vont en ville, à cheval sur leurs sous,
Acheter des pucelle' aux saintes bonnes gens,
Les croquants leur mett'nt à prix d'argent(2)
La main dessus,(3) la main dessous..(4.).





Mais la chair de Lisa, la chair fraîch' de Lison

(que les culs cousus d'or(5) se fass'nt une raison !)(6)
C'est pour la bouch' du premier venu
Qui a les yeux tendre' et les mains nues…
Les croquants, ça les attriste, ça
Les étonne, les étonne,
Qu'une fille, une fill' bell' comm' ça,
S'abandonne, s'abandonne
Au premier ostrogoth(7) venu...
Les croquants, ça tombe des nues(8)






Les fill's de bonnes moeurs, les fill's de bonne vie,
Qui' ont vendu leur fleurette(9) à la foire à l'encan,(10)
Vont s' vautrer dans la couch' des croquants,
Quand les croquants en ont envie...


Mais la chair de Lisa, la chair fraîch' de Lison
(que les culs cousus d'or se fass'nt une raison !)
N'a jamais accordé ses faveurs
À contre-sous, à contrecoeur...



Les croquants, ça les attriste, ça
Les étonne, les étonne,
Qu'une fille, une fill' bell' comm' ça,
S'abandonne, s'abandonne
Au premier ostrogoth  venu...
Les croquants, ça tombe des nues.




Les fill's de bonne vie ont le coeur consistant
Et la fleur(11) qu'on y trouve est garantie longtemps,
Comm' les fleurs en papier des chapeaux,
Les fleurs en pierre des tombeaux...




Mais le coeur de Lisa, le grand coeur de Lison

Aime faire peau neuve(12) avec chaque saison
Jamais deux fois la même couleur,
Jamais deux fois la même fleur...


Les croquants, ça les attriste, ça
Les étonne, les étonne,
Qu'une fille, une fill' bell' comm' ça,
S'abandonne, s'abandonne
Au premier ostrogoth(7) venu...
Les croquants, ça tombe des nues



1955 - Chanson pour l'auvergnat

The big shots , ride in town astride their moneybags
To buy up virgins from righteous goodly folk
 The big shots, by making down-payments in cash, get
Their hands on them, their hands under...




But the flesh of Lisa, the cool flesh of Lizie,
(Let the arseholes stuffed with money face up to it)
Is for the mouth of the first man she meets
Who comes empty-handed, eyes filled with love.
The rich sods, it depresses them, it
Astounds them, astounds them
That a girl, a pretty girl like that
Should yield herself, should yield herself
To the first troglodyte that comes along.
The rich sods just can't believe it.



The girls with right manners, the girls who live nice lives,
Who sold their flowerlets  at public auction
Spreadeagle themselves in the rich sods’ beds
When the rich sods fancy a bit…


But the flesh of Lisa, the cool flesh of Lizie,
(Let the arseholes stuffed with money face up to it)
Has never given of her favours
‘ gainst money –gainst her wishes


The rich sods, it depresses them, it
Astounds them, astounds them
That a girl, a pretty girl like that
Should yield herself, should yield herself
To the first troglodyte that comes along.
The rich sods just can't believe it.



The good-living girls have a heart that’s consistent
And the flower within has a long guarantee,
Like the paper flowers found upon hats
And like the stone flowers found upon tombs…

But the heart of Lisa, the great heart of Lizie
Likes to make a new start with every season
Never, twice over, the same colour
Never, twice over, the same flower


The rich sods, it depresses them, it
Astounds them, astounds them
That a girl, a pretty girl like that
Should yield herself, should yield herself
To the first troglodyte that comes along.
The rich sods just can't believe it.


TRANSLATION COMMENTS
1) Les croquants – The French dictionary, Le Petit Robert, tells us that the word « croquants » was given to peasants who rose in revolt in the reigns of Henri IV and Louis XIII. Robert goes on to tell us that afterwards the word was used simply to mean a peasant, although it is is often used as a pejorative to mean “thief” or “Skinflint”. Brassens’ croquants have too much money for these descriptions to apply. In this poem, when he uses this pejorative, he is thinking of ignorant men enjoying the power of their wealth.

2) A prix d'argent - acheter qch à prix d’or means to pay a (small) fortune for something.(Collins-Robert)

3) La main dessus - "mettre la main sur" means to take possession of to seize hold of.(Robert)

4) La main "dessous" – In the second part of the antithesis is Brassens being rude, suggesting that these objectionable men of money would also put their hands up the girls’ skirts.

5) cousus d'or – cousu is the past participle of coudre to sew. “être (tout) cousu d’or means to be rolling in money.

6) se fass'nt une raison = se faire une raison de qch.means to accept sth./ to put up with sth. (Collins-Robert)

7) ostrogoth(7) = In history the Ostrogoths were the Goths who came from the East. The word has cometo be used to describe a person who is ill-educated,, ignorant, boorish, eccentric. None of these words fit the man that brassens intends to describe. Instead, in this poem, the term represents the person that the anarchistic Brassens admired- a spontaneous person standing apart from the false values of conventional society and indifferent to wealth and personal possessions.

8) tombe des nues – Idioms using these words refer to a state of surprise and incredulity. “Je suis tombé des nues” means you could have knocked me down with a feather

9) La fleurette – Little flower. Brassens uses it as a symbol for virginity

10) à l'encan, ==vendre à l’encan-to sell at auction. (Larousse). (Of course the most common translation for “the auction” is « La vente aux enchères »)

11) la fleur – The flowerlet of the young girl, mentioned earlier, has now matured into a full flower.

12) faire peau neuve = to find a new image - make a new start



Please click here toreturn to the alphabetical list of my Brassens selection

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Petalouda said...

Your site is amazing resource - as a fan of George Brassens' poetry and music, I've referred to your translations of his songs many times during my years of living in France. I send you heartfelt gratitude.

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