Thursday, 21 January 2010

Putain de Toi

Some of Brassens’ biographers talk of a girl called Jo, with whom Brassens had a passionate relationship from June 1945 until August 1946. They tell us that Jo was only seventeen when she made her dramatic entry into his life - in the song Brassens talks of her twenty years but that will be poetic licence.   He had to be careful not to be caught by his mistress, Jeanne, in whose house he was living in the Impasse Florimont.   Jo was stunning to look at and totally amoral. Brassens’ bohemian character was attracted by her devil-may-care attitude to life and the liberality of her love. Unfortunately the irresponsibility, which was amusing when applied to the society around them, became unacceptable within a personal relationship and she brought a lot of turmoil into his life. This led to the break-up.

As in “Une Jolie Fleur”, the poet feels the need to insult his former girl-friend – in this case notably by his choice of title. He is blaming a young,spontaneous girl for what she is and what he had always known her to be. Men at times can be pathetic!

There are other similarities between “Putain de Toi” and “Une Jolie Fleur”, and it could be that both poems refer to the same girl. In both, Brassens certainly betrays his sense of hurt and disappointment over this girl (or these girls).

Unfortunately, I can find no Brassens recording of this song



Putain (1) de toi
En ce temps-là, je vivais dans la lune (1)
In those times then, I lived inside the moon
Les bonheurs d'ici-bas m'étaient tous défendus
The joys of here below were all forbidden me
Je semais des violettes et chantais pour des prunes
I used to sow violets and sing for peanuts
Et tendais la patte aux chats perdus...
And offered my paw to greet lost cats.(2)

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!

Un soir de pluie, v'là qu'on gratte à ma porte
One rainy night, there’s scratching at my door (3)
Je m'empresse d'ouvrir, sans doute un nouveau chat !
I rush to open, no doubt another cat !
Nom de Dieu, l' beau félin que l'orage m'apporte
Bloody Hell, (4)the fine feline the storm brings me
C'était toi, c'était toi, c'était toi...
It was you, it was you, it was you
Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!

Les yeux fendus et couleur de pistache (5)
With almond eyes colour of pale green
T'as posé sur mon coeur ta patte de velours(6)
You placed upon my heart your safe velvet paw
Fort heureus'ment pour moi t'avais pas de moustache
Very lucky for me you did not have whiskers
Et ta vertu ne pesait pas trop lourd...
And your virtue did not weigh too heavy

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!


Aux quatre coins de ma vie de bohème
To the four corners of my gypsy life
T'as prom'né, t'as prom'né le feu de tes vingt ans
You took round, you took the fire of your twenty years
Et pour moi, pour mes chats, pour mes fleurs, mes poèmes
Both for me, for my cats, for my flowers, my poems
C'était toi la pluie et le beau temps...
That was you the rain and the fine days

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!


Mais le temps passe et fauche à l'aveuglette
But time goes past, reaping willy nilly
Notre amour mûrissait à peine que déjà,
Our love had scarcely blossomed when already
Tu brûlais mes chansons, crachais sur mes violettes,
You were burning my songs, spitting on my violets
Et faisais des misèr's à mes chats...
And making my cats’ lives a misery
Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!

Le comble enfin, misérable salope,
The final limit came miserable wench,
Comme il n' restait plus rien dans le garde-manger,
As there was nothing left in the food cupboard
T'as couru sans vergogne, et pour une escalope,
You ran off shamelessly, and for an escalope
Te jeter dans le lit du boucher !
You jumped into bed with the butcher.

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!


C'était fini, t'avais passé les bornes
It was all over, you had gone just too far
Et, r'nonçant aux amours frivoles d'ici-bas,
And, renouncing the frivolous loves down below
J' suis r'monté dans la lune en emportant mes cornes,
I climbed back into the moon taking horns she gave me
Mes chansons, et mes fleurs, et mes chats...
My flowers, and my songs, and my cats.

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that is you!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...
Ad ah ah ah ah !sucker that's me!
!

Georges Brassens
1953 - Les amoureux des bancs publics,
Translation Notes

1) « je vivais dans la lune ». Brassens talks about these days in « Auprès de mon Arbre ». He lived cut off from the world in a dilapidated attic, where there were gaps in the masonry that allowed him to live with the moon and the stars.
2) Some of the felines whom he welcomed were human. From « Auprès de mon Arbre » we learn that in those carefree days a number of different girls slipped in to pass the night with him.
3) Apologies for the language, but Brassens was taken aback by the stunning young girl who came to offer herself to him
4) “couleur de pistache ». The noun means pistachio nut and the adjective describes a soft shade of green.
5) “patte de velours » As in the English “velvet paws”, the meaning is “claws retracted”.

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2 comments:

Christopher said...

Checking/comparing my translations of Brassens songs into English with yours is going to be very useful to me

here is my translation of same song if your interseted http://sites.google.com/site/ageorgebrassensproject/pdetoipaspaspas

Chris

Anonymous said...

I think this is a recording of him playing the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y5JwJxutbwU&feature=related

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Notes on the classics of French literature. During my years of teaching, I wrote thousands of pages for my students. Preferring not to discard all these years of work, I am posting them on the Internet as a resource for teachers and students and I am using my blogsite as the portal in order to give access to the individual books. During my university course, I was an Assistant for one year in Arras and my nostalgia for Georges Brassens stems from these happy days- now long gone- when his songs were first being recorded and he was all the rage among the student surveillants. When I opened this Blogsite many years ago, I used David Barfield, my maternal family name, as my Internet alias. My actual name is David Yendley and if any of my past students come across this site, I send them my best wishes. They were great company to be with.