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Le testament
Chanson de Georges Brassens
Last will and testament
Translation by Dr. Ted Neather
Je serai triste comme un saule,
Quand le Dieu qui partout me suit,
Me dira, le main sur l'épaule,
"Va-t'en voir là-haut si j'y'suis."*
Alors, du ciel et de la terre
Il me faudra faire mon deuil...
Est-il encore debout le chêne,
Ou le sapin de mon cerceuil?
I shall be as sad as a weeping willow
When the Lord who follows me everywhere,
Puts a hand on my shoulder and says,
"It's time to go up yonder and see if I'm really there."*
Then, I shall have to kiss the sky
And the earth goodbye.
I wonder if the oak or the pine is still standing,
Which one day will be shaped to make my coffin?
S'il faut aller au cimitière,
J' prendrai le chemin le plus long,
J' ferai la tombe buissonnière,*
J' quitterai la vie à reculons...
Tant pis si les croqu'-morts me grondent,
Tant pis s'ils me croient fou à lier,
Je veux partir pour l'autre monde
Par le chemin des écoliers.*
If I've really got to go to the cemetery
I'll take the longest way round,
I'll play truant from the grave,*
I'll back out of life slowly.
Too bad if the undertakers curse me,
Too bad if they think I'm barking mad,
When I set off for the next world
I'll creep like a snail unwillingly, as if to school.*
Avant d'aller conter fleurette
Aux belles âmes des damné's,
Je rêv' d'encore une amourette,
Je rêv' d'encor' m'enjuponner...
Encore un' fois dire: "Je t'aime"...
Encore un' fois perdre le nord
En effeuillant le chrysanthème
Qui'est la marguerite des morts.
Before I set about chatting up
The beautiful souls of the damned,
I dream of just one more little love affair,
I dream of getting under just one more petticoat.
Just once more tell someone "I love you",
Just once more, lose my bearings completely.
Playing "she loves me, she loves me not"
With the chrysanthemum, the daisy of death.
Dieu veuill' que ma veuve s'alarme
En enterrant son compagnon,
Et qu' pour lui fair' verser des larmes
Il n'y ait pas besoin d'oignon...
Qu'elle prenne en secondes noces
Un époux de mon acabit:
Il pourra profiter d'mes bottes,
Et d'mes pantoufle's et d'mes habits.
God willing, my widow will take fright
At having to bury her mate.
And I hope she won't need to resort to onions,
To make her shed a tear or two.
By all means, let her take a second husband,
Someone of my type, if she likes.
He'll be able to make good use of my boots
And my slippers and my clothes.
Qu'il boiv' mon vin, qu'il aim' ma femme,
Qu'il fum' ma pipe et mon tabac,
mais que jamais - mort de mon âme! -
Jamais il ne fouette mes chats...
Quoique je n'ai' pas un atome,
Une ombre de méchanceté,
S'il fouett' mes chats, y'a un fantôme
Qui viendra le persécuter.
He can drink my wine, he can make love to my wife,
He can smoke my pipe and my tobacco.
But never, that would give me a heavy heart,
Never let him whip my cats.
Although I've not got one single atom,
Not even a shadow of a nasty streak in me,
If he whips my cats, there's a ghost
Who'll return to persecute him.
Ici-gît une feuille morte,
Ici finit mon testament...
On a marqué dessus ma porte:
"Fermé pour caus' d'enterrement."
J'ai quitté la vi' sans rancune,
J'aurai plus jamais mal aux dents:
Me v'là dans la fosse commune,
La fosse commune du temps.
Here lies a dead leaf,
Hear ends my last will and testament.
Above my door, they've put a sign,
"Closed to allow attendance at funeral."
I've left this life with no resentment.
I'll never have toothache again.
Now I lie in the communal grave,
The communal grave of time.
© 1955 Ed. Intersong-Paris Translation for meaning, not for poetry or song.
© 2000 Dr. Ted Neather


* Brassens had a gift for using slang expressions with new insight, well demonstrated in this particular song.
Va-t'en voir là-haut si j'y'suis.
Va voir la bas si j'y suis is French slang for 'go away', literally: go and look over there to see if I am there.. In this song, Brassens has adapted the slang phrase such that God says to him "Go and look up there to see if I'm there."
J' ferai la tombe buissonnière,
Faire l'ecole buissonière means to play truant, to bunk off school. In this song, Brassens plays truant from the grave.
Par le chemin des écoliers.
Le chemin des écoliers (literally the schoolkids' route) is French slang for the longest way round, by which Brassens means to leave for the Other World. Dr Neather has translated this phrase with a line from William Shakespeare.