Friday, 7 January 2011

Le Pornographe- he tells where his reputation as a writer of dirty songs leads him.

Brassens muses over his reputation as a writer of dirty songs. It is a paradox that, although he would not use coarse words in his personal life, he uses them quite freely in his professional life. He explains how this came about and describes the exaggeration caused by the stereotyping effect of public expectation. He has no fear of condemnation by the gods based on the meaningless human criteria of pornography.



Le pornographe

Autrefois, quand j'étais marmot,
J'avais la phobie des gros mots,
Et si je pensais "merde" tout bas,
Je ne le disais pas...
Mais(1)

Aujourd'hui que mon gagne-pain
C'est de parler comme un turlupin, (2)
Je ne pense plus "merde", pardi!
Mais je le dis.


Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson(3)
De la chanson.

Afin d'amuser la galerie
Je crache des gauloiseries,
Des pleines bouches de mots crus
Tout à fait incongrus...
Mais


En me retrouvant seul sous mon toit,
Dans ma psyché je me montre au doigt.
Et me crie: "Va te faire, homme incorrecte,
Voir par les Grecs."

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson.

Tous les samedis je vais à confesse
M'accuser d'avoir parlé de fesses
Et je promets ferme au marabout
De les mettre tabou...
Mais

Craignant, si je n'en parle plus,
De finir à l'Armée du Salut,(4)
Je remets bientôt sur le tapis
Les fesses impies.

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson.


Ma femme est, soit dit en passant,
D'un naturel concupiscent
Qui l'incite à se coucher nue
Sous le premier venu...
Mais

M'est-il permis, soyons sincère,
D'en parler au café-concert
Sans dire qu'elle a, suraigu,
Le feu au cul?

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson.


J'aurais sans doute du bonheur,
Et peut-être la Croix d'honneur,
A chanter avec décorum
L'amour qui mène à Rome...(5)
Mais

Mon ange m'a dit: "Turlututu!
Chanter l'amour t'est défendu
S'il n'éclôt pas sur le destin
D'une putain."

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson.


Et quand j'entonne, guilleret,
A un patron de cabaret
Une adorable bucolique,
Il est mélancolique...
Et

Me dit, la voix noyée de pleurs:
"S'il vous plaît de chanter les fleurs,
Qu'elles poussent au moins rue Blondel(6)
Dans un bordel."

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson


Chaque soir avant le dîner,
A mon balcon mettant le nez,
Je contemple les bonnes gens
Dans le soleil couchant...
Mais


N’ me d’mandez pas d’chanter ça, si
Vous redoutez d'entendre ici
Que j'aime à voir, de mon balcon,
Passer les cons.(7)

Je suis le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson


Les bonnes âmes d'ici bas
Comptent ferme qu'à mon trépas
Satan va venir embrocher
Ce mort mal embouché...(8)
Mais,


Mais veuille le grand manitou,
Pour qui le mot n'est rien du tout,
Admettre en sa Jérusalem,
A l'heure blême,(9)

Le pornographe
Du phonographe,
Le polisson
De la chanson.




Georges Brassens
1958 - Le pornographe
In the past, when I was a kid
I just could not stand bad language
And if I thought “shit” on the quiet
I did’nt say it out loud
But

Today when earning my living
Means to speak like a social rebel
I no longer think “shit” - no way!
But I say it.


I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song

Just to amuse the gallery
I come out with dirty remarks
With mouthfuls of crude expressions
Completely uncalled for
But


When I get back home, all on my own
In my mind’s eye, I point straight at myself
And yell : “Incorrect man, get y’self
Seen by the Greeks. »

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song

On Sat’days, I go to confess
To tell I’ve been speaking of bums
And firmly pledge the holy man
To rule them out tabou
But

Fearing, if there’s no more mention
To end up dependent on charity,
I’m soon bringing up once again
The so impious bums.

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song


My wife is, mentioned in passing,
By nature quite concupiscent
Which makes her go to bed naked
Under the first man to call….
But

Am I allowed, let’s be honest
To bring it up in the music-hall
Without saying she has, to the point,
A hot fanny ?

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song


No doubt I would have better luck
And perhaps the Croix d'honneur,
Through singing with due decorum
The love that leads to Rome ….
But

My angel told me “Fiddledee !
Singing of love is forbidden
Unless it hinges on the fate
Of a comm’n whore.

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song


When I strike up a cheerful song
For the boss of a cabaret
A likable man , bucolic
He is melancholic
And

Tells me, his voice choking with tears
If you enjoy singing of flow’rs
At least let them grow in Soho
In a brothel.

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song


Every evening before dinner
Nipping out on my balcony
I gaze at all the good people
In the sunset’s soft light.....
But


Don’t ask me to sing of that if
You’re afraid to hear me say here
I like to see from my balc’ny
The twats go by.

I’m the pornographer
Of phonography,
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song


The right-minded down here below
Firmly expect that at my death
Satan’s going to roast on a spit
This man who said bad things
But


May he be willing the high chief,
For whom words alone matter not
To admit in his Jerusalem
At the pale hour

The pornographer
Of phonography
The rude chappie
Of pop’lar song






TRANSLATION NOTES

1)     Mais je le dis- Brassens splits each verse into two by the word “but”, so that the second part becomes a surprise or amusing qualification of the first. This applies in all the verses except one where “but” becomes “and”.

2)     un turlupin- . Brassens tells us, at the end of the song, that, according to the teachings of the Church, Satan will finally pitchfork him into the eternal fires of Hell, in punishment for using rude words and for talking too frankly about sexual matters. The strictures of the Church were more important at the time when Brassens was writing.  Brassens’ reference to the Turlupins reminds us that the issue of freedom of thought and expression is centuries old:
The Turlupins were part of a movement of religious dissent that emerged in France in the second half of the 14th century. We can only deduce the ideas of the different factions from what their adversaries in the Church said about them. Some apparently called themselves the “Brethren of the Free Spirit” and “The Society of the Poor". One prominent leader was  Jeanne Daubenton from Picardy.. She taught the virtues of the simple life and preached that individuals could achieve salvation through Christ by direct prayer without the intervention of the Church. Also she denied there was any sin in satisfying one’s sensual desires.   Pope Gregory XI, 
with the cooperation of the King of France, Charles V took action to suppress the religious dissidents. Gregory, who was pope from 1370-1378 was the last pope of the period when the Roman Catholic church was governed from France instead of Rome.  He reestablished the Holy Inquisition in France and people with views independent of the Church were excommunicated; some were thrown into prison and some executed.  Jeanne Daubenton, was arrested in 1372 and subjected to long hours of torture in the Chatelet Prison.  Finally with her body totally broken by the brutality, she was humped on a cart and taken not to the official execution ground, the Place de Grève, but as a final humiliation to the Place des Porceaux , where she was tied upright to a stake to suffer the required death for heretics - the agonising death of the burning of a living human body. (Historical facts from Vincent Thouvenot on French Wikipedia.)

3)     Le polisson - The rude chappie – I used the word chappie because polisson has the idea of “naughty”, “rascally” and I wanted to include a sense of harmlessness. The association in my mind is with the title of “the Cheeky Chappie” given to Max Miller (1894-1963), one of Britain's top comedians in the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s. The material of his jokes and songs was risqué, full of sexual double entendres which outraged the strait-laced.

4)     L'Armée du Salut – Brassens mentions the Salvation Army because it is known across the world as the final refuge of the destitute.

5)     L'amour qui mène à Rome...- This is perhaps a reference to the respectful acclaim granted to Brassens’ contemporary, the singing priest, le Père Duval, about whom Brassens relates a personal anecdote in his song;"Les Trompettes de la Renommée.”

6)     rue Blondel – was a street in Paris with a red light reputation

7)     Les cons - My suggestion for this translation refers to “les bonnes gens”, whom Brassens observes from his balcony. In the second part of the verse, under pressure from his public reputation, he calls them “cons”, which in its milder sense means silly, misguided people.

8)     “Emboucher” a musical instrument is to put it to your mouth to play. The idiom “Mal embouché” means “expressed in a coarse manner”.  We have a phrase in English to bad mouth.

9) L'heure blême - Brassens uses elsewhere this image of fading light to depict the moment of death.





Click here to go back to the Index of my Brassens selection

4 comments:

Moltier said...

Great blog, thank you for these!

חנוך said...

and in hebrew - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NP7Uz5kFHQw

thanks for the blog !

Anonymous said...

Fantastic translation. Thank you very much. Asi (Israel)

Anonymous said...

Merci beaucoup!