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Songs

Bleuet

by Francis Poulenc

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Text & Translation

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Bleuet
French source: Guillaume Apollinaire

Jeune homme
De vingt ans
Qui as vu des choses si affreuses
Que penses-tu des hommes de ton enfance

Tu connais la bravoure et la ruse

Tu as vu la mort en face plus de cent fois
Tu ne sais pas ce que c’est que la vie

Transmets ton intrépidité
À ceux qui viendront
Après toi

Jeune homme
Tu es joyeux ta mémoire est ensanglantée
Ton âme est rouge aussi
De joie
Tu as absorbé la vie de ceux qui sont morts près de toi

Tu as de la décision
Il est 17 heures et tu saurais
Mourir
Sinon mieux que tes aînés
Du moins plus pieusement
Car tu connais mieux la mort que la vie
Ô douceur d’autrefois
Lenteur immémoriale

Rookie
English translation © Richard Stokes

Young man
Of twenty,
You who have seen such horrible things,
What do you think of the men from your childhood?

You know what bravery is and cunning


You have faced death more than a hundred times
You do not know what life is

Hand down your fearlessness
To those who shall come
After you


Young man
You are joyous your memory is steeped in blood
Your soul is red also
With joy
You have absorbed the life of those who died beside you

You are resolute
It is 1700 hrs and you would know
How to die
If not better than your elders
At least with greater piety
For you are better acquainted with death than life
Oh sweetness of bygone days
Slow-moving beyond all memory

Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

Bleuet
French source: Guillaume Apollinaire

Rookie
English source: Richard Stokes

Jeune homme
Young man
De vingt ans
Of twenty,
Qui as vu des choses si affreuses
You who have seen such horrible things,
Que penses-tu des hommes de ton enfance
What do you think of the men from your childhood?

Tu connais la bravoure et la ruse
You know what bravery is and cunning

Tu as vu la mort en face plus de cent fois

Tu ne sais pas ce que c’est que la vie
You have faced death more than a hundred times

Transmets ton intrépidité
Hand down your fearlessness
À ceux qui viendront
To those who shall come
Après toi
After you

Jeune homme

Tu es joyeux ta mémoire est ensanglantée
Young man
Ton âme est rouge aussi
You are joyous your memory is steeped in blood
De joie
Your soul is red also
Tu as absorbé la vie de ceux qui sont morts près de toi
With joy

Tu as de la décision
You are resolute
Il est 17 heures et tu saurais
It is 1700 hrs and you would know
Mourir
How to die
Sinon mieux que tes aînés
If not better than your elders
Du moins plus pieusement
At least with greater piety
Car tu connais mieux la mort que la vie
For you are better acquainted with death than life
Ô douceur d’autrefois
Oh sweetness of bygone days
Lenteur immémoriale
Slow-moving beyond all memory

Composer

Francis Poulenc

Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (F7 January 1899 – 30 January 1963) was a French composer and pianist. His compositions include mélodies, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music. Read the full…

Poet

Guillaume Apollinaire

Guillaume Apollinaire  (26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish-Belarusian descent. Apollinaire is considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as…

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