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).



Putain(1) de toi
En ce temps-là, je vivais dans la lune(2)
Les bonheurs d'ici-bas m'étaient tous défendus
Je semais des violettes et chantais pour des prunes
Et tendais la patte aux chats perdus 

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...

Un soir de pluie, v'là qu'on gratte à ma porte
Je m'empresse d'ouvrir, sans doute un nouveau chat !
Nom de Dieu, l' beau félin(3)... que l'orage m'apporte
C'était toi, c'était toi, c'était toi...


Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...

Les yeux fendus et couleur de pistache (4)
T'as posé sur mon coeur ta patte de velours(6)

Fort heureus'ment pour moi t'avais pas de moustache
Et ta vertu ne pesait pas trop lourd...

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...



Aux quatre coins de ma vie de bohème
T'as prom'né, t'as prom'né le feu de tes vingt ans

Et pour moi, pour mes chats, pour mes fleurs, mes poèmes
C'était toi la pluie et le beau temps...

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...


Mais le temps passe et fauche à l'aveuglette
Notre amour mûrissait à peine que déjà,
Tu brûlais mes chansons, crachais sur mes violettes,
Et faisais des misèr's à mes chats...

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...

Le comble enfin, misérable salope,
Comme il n' restait plus rien dans le garde-manger,
T'as couru sans vergogne, et pour une escalope,
Te jeter dans le lit du boucher !

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...


C'était fini, t'avais passé les bornes
Et, r'nonçant aux amours frivoles d'ici-bas,
J' suis r'monté dans la lune en emportant mes cornes,
Mes chansons, et mes fleurs, et mes chats...

Ah ah ah ah! putain de toi!
Ah ah ah ah ah! pauvre de moi...


Georges Brassens
1953 - Les amoureux des bancs publics,

In those days, I was living on the moon
The joys down here below for me were forbidden
I used to sow violets and sing for peanuts
And held out my paw to welcome lost cats.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!

One rainy night, there’s scratching at my door
I rush to open it, no doubt another cat !

Heavens! the cute feline that the storm brings to me
It was you, it was you, it was you

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!

With almond shaped eyes pistachio green
You placed on my heart your paw, with claws not on view
Very luckily for me you did not have whiskers

And your virtue did not weigh too heavy.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!


To ev’ry inch of my bohemian  life
You trailed, you trailed all the fire of your twenty years
And for me, for my cats, for my flowers, my poems
T’was you the rain and the fine weather.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!


But time passes and reaps willy nilly
Our love was scarcely ripe when you already
Were burning my songs, spitting on my violets

And making my cats’ lives a misery.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!

Finally the last straw, miserable tart
Since there was nothing left to eat in the pantry
Without any shame you ran, and for a beef steak
You jumped into bed with the butcher.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!


It was over, you’d overstepped the mark
And, shunning frivolous loves down below
I climbed back on the moon, taking my cuckold’s horns
All my  songs, and my flowers, and my cats.

Ah ah ah ah ! tramp that you are!
Ah ah ah ah ah! poor sucker  me!












TRANSLATION NOTES

1)     Putain de toi: “Putain” is an impolite word used to describe a prostitute.  It is used, however also as a derogatory word for females who have no connection with the sex trade, where the abusive word in English would be “bitch”, “cow” etc.
Putain is also used with “de” as here to swear at some-one or something – e.g. “Éteins cette putain de lumière” = “Put out that bloody light!”    
Thus in the translation of “Putain de toi”, we can stick with straight swearing saying “You bloody thing”  
However Brassens thinks she has done many bad things and we should perhaps pick out  a more specific idea from “Putain”, saying “Bitch that you are”or to refer to her low morals by saying ”Whore that you are”
2)     « je vivais dans la lune ». Brassens talks about these days in « Auprès de mon Arbre ». He lived, under the care and eye of Jeanne, in theory at least, 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.
3)     Le beau félin - Some of the felines whom Brassens welcomed during his bohemian days were indeed 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.  Apparently he was as cut off he sometimes claimed!
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 “paws with claws retracted”.




 TRANSLATION NOTES

1)     Putain de toi: “Putain” is an impolite word used to describe a prostitute.  It is used, however also as a derogatory word for females who have no connection with the sex trade, where the abusive word in English would be “bitch”, “cow” etc.
            Putain is also used with “de” as here to swear at some-one or something – e.g. “Éteins cette                 putain de lumière” = “Put out that bloody light!”    
           Thus in the translation of “Putain de toi”, we can stick with straight swearing saying “You                   bloody thing”  
           However Brassens thinks she has done many bad things and we should perhaps pick out  a                  more specific idea from “Putain”, saying “Bitch that you are”or to refer to her low morals by              saying ”Whore that you are”
2)     « je vivais dans la lune ». Brassens talks about these days in « Auprès de mon Arbre ». He lived, under the care and eye of Jeanne, in theory at least, 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.
3)     Le beau félin - Some of the felines whom Brassens welcomed during his bohemian days were indeed 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.  Apparently he was as cut off he sometimes claimed!
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 “paws with 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.