The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #151871   Message #3549504
Posted By: GUEST,Don Wise
15-Aug-13 - 02:31 PM
Thread Name: French songs in English translation
Subject: RE: French songs in English translation
(@ alex s: are you refering to "The Partisan"? If so, where's the relevant posting?)

"La complainte du partisan"......not only did the american translator apparently leave out a verse, he changed an old man to an old woman and removed the patriotic bits. The printed versions I've seen have 6 french and 5 english verses, even if Joan Baez found an english translation of the sixth verse somewhere. Substituting 'les soldats' for 'les Allemands' and 'la nation' for 'La France' brings the french version, to my mind, up-to-date and gives it a degree of universality. WWII has been over for a long time now but there are plenty of other conflicts rageing in the world.

My translation:-

"No-one ever asked me
Where I've come from, where I'm going
Those of you who know
Erase all traces of me"

I interpret the french last verse as being a return to 'normality'-

"On nous oubliera,
Nous rentrerons dans l'ombre"-

we'll be forgotten- nobody will have any interest in our deeds, they, and we, will be too busy rebuilding our lives and so we'll fade away and become just memories........
Although the english version is apparently up-beat/jolly I look at it the same sense as I look at the original:- at last we'll be able to leave this clandestine life and pick up the pieces of our lives..........

The american, tin-pan-alley, composer("The twelth of never"?) who came up with the english version presumably followed standard tin-pan-alley practice and supplied an obligatory apparently up-beat ending. Quite why he turned an old man into an old women escapes me but it's not important.