Friday, 3 December 2010

Pauvre Martin - A touching song of a farm labourer who asked nothing from life and got it.

Brassens paints a touching portrait of an impoverished agricultural labourer, whose life is hard but who accepts his fate with total equanimity - Another of society’s outsiders for whom he felt great compassion.



Pauvre Martin

Avec une bêche à l'épaule,
Avec à la lèvre un doux chant,
Avec à la lèvre un doux chant,
Avec à l'âme (1) un grand courage,
Il s'en allait trimer aux champs
Pauvre Martin, pauvre misère,(2)
Creuse la terre, creuse le temps

Pour gagner le pain de sa vie,
De l'aurore jusqu'au couchant,
De l'aurore jusqu'au couchant,
Il s'en allait bêcher la terre
En tous les lieux, par tous les temps
Pauvre Martin, pauvre misère,
Creuse la terre, creuse le temps


Sans laisser voir sur son visage
Ni l'air jaloux ni l'air méchant,
Ni l'air jaloux ni l'air méchant,
Il retournait le champ des autres,
Toujours bêchant, toujours bêchant
Pauvre Martin, pauvre misère,
Creuse la terre, creuse le temps

Et quand la mort lui a fait signe
De labourer son dernier champ,
De labourer son dernier champ,
Il creusa lui-même sa tombe
En faisant vite, en se cachant
Pauvre Martin, pauvre misère,
Creuse la terre, creuse le temps


Il creusa lui-même sa tombe
En faisant vite, en se cachant
En faisant vite, en se cachant,
Et s'y étendit sans rien dire
Pour ne pas déranger les gens
Pauvre Martin, pauvre misère,
Dors sous la terre, dors sous le temps!(3)

Georges Brassens
1954 - Les amoureux des bancs publics


With a spade upon his shoulder
With, on his lips, a little song
With, on his lips, a little song
With, deep within, spirit unbroken
He would go to the fields to toil
Poor old Martin, mis'rably poor
Digs at the earth, digs away time.

To earn enough bread to live off
From crack of dawn ‘til setting sun
From crack of dawn ‘til setting sun
He would go off to work the land
Off anywhere in all weather
Poor old Martin, mis'rably poor
Digs at the earth, digs away time.


He let appear upon his face
No look of envy or of spite
No look of envy or of spite
Tilling fields belonging to others
Digging nonstop, digging nonstop
Poor old Martin, mis'rably poor
Digs at the earth, digs away time

And when death gave him the signal
To begin work on his last field
To begin work on his last field
He dug for himself his own grave
Getting done quick, keeping hidden
Poor old Martin, mis'rably poor
Digs at the earth, digs away time.


He dug for himself his own grave
Getting done quick, keeping hidden
Getting done quick, keeping hidden
And laid him there with no word said
So as not to trouble people.
Poor old Martin, mis'rably poor
Sleep neath the earth, sleep under time







TRANSLATION NOTES

1) Avec à l'âme = Literally  - With, in his soul, ...

2) We French teachers bore or perhaps amuse people by talking about "faux amis". The word "misère" is one of these - it looks like the English word "misery" but it means extreme poverty (Of course the two ideas are not unrelated).

3) Brassens often talks of death and the ravages of time in his songs.

Barbara sings this song:





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