Chevaux de bois, 2e partie

Chevaux de bois

sh-vohd BWAH. Click below to hear this.

Wooden horses

If you haven’t read yesterday’s post yet, you can read it here. It will give you an introduction to today’s topic and to Anna Robinson, the star of today’s (and yesterday’s) show.

As promised, here is Paul Verlaine’s poem, followed by Anna Robinson’s translation. (Being a poet and a translator myself, I couldn’t help tweaking her translation in a few spots. I hope you don’t mind, Anna!)

Chevaux de bois

Tournez, tournez, bon chevaux de bois,
Tournez cent tours, tournez mille tours.
Tournez souvent et tournez toujours,
Tournez, tournez au son des hautbois.

L’enfant tout rouge et la mère blanche,
Le gars en noir et la fille en rose.
L’une à la chose et l’autre à la pose,
Chacun se paie un sou de dimanche.

Tournez, tournez, chevaux de leur coeur,
Tandis qu’autour de tous vos tournois
Clignote l’oeil du filou sournois.
Tournez au son du piston vainqueur!

C’est étonnant comme ça vous soûle,
D’aller ainsi dans ce cirque bête,
Rien dans le ventre et mal dans la tête,
Du mal en masse et du bien en foule;

Tournez dadas, sans qu’il soit besoin
D’user jamais de nuls éperons
Pour commander à vos galops ronds.
Tournez, tournez, sans espoir de foin,

Et dépêchez, chevaux de leur âme,
Déjà voici que sonne à la soupe
La nuit qui tombe et chasse la troupe
De gais buveurs, que leur soif affame.

Tournez, tournez! Le ciel en velours
D’astres en or se vêt lentement,
L’Eglise tinte un glas tristement.
Tournez au son joyeux des tambours, tournez.

Turn, turn, you fine wooden horses,
Turn a hundred turns, turn a thousand turns,
Turn often and turn forever,
Turn, turn to the sound of oboes.

The ruddy-faced child and the pale mother,
The fellow in black and the girl in pink,
The one down-to-earth and the other showing off,
Each buys himself a penny of Sunday fun.

Turn, turn, horses of their hearts,
And while you whirl around
The eye of the pickpocket twinkles.
Turn to the sound of the victorious cornet!

It is amazing how drunk this makes you,
Going around in a silly circle:
With an empty stomach and an aching head,
Lots of discomfort and heaps of fun.

Turn, hobbyhorses, there will never be need
For the use of any spurs
To make you gallop around.
Turn, turn, without hope of hay.

And hurry, horses of their souls,
Already the supper bell is ringing,
Night is falling and drives away the band
Of merry drinkers, made ravenous by their thirst.

Turn, turn! The velvet sky
Is slowly clothed with golden stars,
The church tolls a mournful knell.
Turn, to the happy sound of drums, turn!

Note that if you look up Paul Verlaine’s original poem, you will find many changes! I don’t know whether Debussy modified the poem, or Verlaine published more than one version; but the differences are significant.

Please join me in wishing Anna well in her budding career!


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