Jacques Brel - Chacun sa Dulcinéa (English translation)

English translation

To Everyone His Dulcinea

Versions: #1#2
To everyone his Dulcinea
The one he alone will be aware of
The one he made up on a tearful night
To protect a tiny bit of hope
Inside the barbwire of his heart.
Through her, through his Dulcinea
Or through the likely idea
The defiant man becomes a god
Look, he's flying and can even
Grab the moons at his finger touch
However, if you're one of those
Who live off chimaeras
Remember that between your fingers
The moon crumbles into stardust
There's no Dulcinea
That's only a jaded hope
Bad luck to those who may prefer
To Be rather than to Have
I know his desperation
There's no Dulcinea
That's only a jaded hope
 
Submitted by sandring on Fri, 13/10/2017 - 10:47
Last edited by sandring on Fri, 20/10/2017 - 12:14
French

Chacun sa Dulcinéa

Comments
Brat    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 12:04

C'est un espoir fané.
I think, "wan hope" will be the closest match in the context, because espoir fané is rather idiomatic, AFAIK. Regular smile But I may be wrong, indeed, because my French is at a shamefully low level...

sandring    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 12:25

Thank you for your comment, Brat. That was rather a translation on the spot. I'll go back to it later. As for your French being at a shamefully low level you're fishing for compliments! Regular smile

sandring    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 12:46

I've got it, Brat, it's a jaded hope. Some people are slow if not stupid at times. Thank you for bringing it up. Regular smile

Brat    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 13:14

Sometimes jaded words can work either... Wink smile As well as jaded horses like me. Regular smile

petit élève    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 15:20

You should be granted honorary French citizenship for your uncanny cheekiness Teeth smile

Brat    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 17:19

If it was not impudent, could you please tell this to Mr. "quel que soit son nom" to whom it may concern... Lol

nefelibata    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 14:21

Nadia, you and Pierre are among the people I most look up to here on this website.
So as just a reader, it is really quite a joy for a person like me to be able to read you guys
side by side.

petit élève    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 14:34

This version sounds great. You flew over all the hurdles that made mine so ponderous. A fine job, really.

nefelibata    Fri, 13/10/2017 - 14:42

I think yours is beautiful, Pierre, and I wouldn't even try sucking up to you.
You'd smell a move like that from miles away. So you must know I mean it.

sandring    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 06:37

Guys, are you serious? Welcome to British humour! "Some people are slow if not stupid at times" refers exclusively to the speaker who wasn't smart enough to understand that "un espoir fané" was a set expression. It was Brat who brought me back to my senses and got me thinking of a similar set collocation in both languages. And besides, why should I run down other people when I always have stupid me around? Devil smile

petit élève    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 06:54

If I had thought for one second that this comment was not a bit of self-derision, I would have had you severely spanked with the complete works of Marx and Engels on the spot.

Now seriously, I don't think "espoir fané" is especially idiomatic. Less than "wan hope" or "jaded hope" at any rate. More like explicit casual French. Still "jaded hope" matches the meaning pretty well and sounds nice, so I think that's a very good choice.

Btw. Ana and I were wondering what a native would think of "living in cloud castles" to render "vivre de chimères". How does that sound to you?

sandring    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 07:04

Pierre, I thought of cloud castles and being in clover but they are all about being blissful. Brel's image is dark, chimaeras are no fun, so I thought of Goya and "living off chimaeras" as the only source of supporting one's self. That was how I felt about it.

petit élève    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 07:12

Interesting. I actually thought the contrast between the illusory bliss and the following downfall would be more vivid.
"chimère" is rather neutral, I think. "agréables chimères" is quite common, to speak about foolish illusions.
So except for this nuance of "positiveness", would you say "living in cloud castles" sounds idiomatic enough?

Brat    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 09:03
petit élève wrote:

If I had thought for one second that this comment was not a bit of self-derision, I would have had you severely spanked with the complete works of Marx and Engels on the spot.

Давай, Сергей,
За Маркса тихо сядем,
Понюхаем премудрость
Скучных строк.
(C) You should know him Wink smile

petit élève wrote:

Now seriously, I don't think "espoir fané" is especially idiomatic. Less than "wan hope" or "jaded hope" at any rate. More like explicit casual French. Still "jaded hope" matches the meaning pretty well and sounds nice, so I think that's a very good choice.

I did suspect this Wink smile So, my ass should not be kicked. Regular smile Especially since my variant appeared to be not the very best.

petit élève wrote:

Btw. Ana and I were wondering what a native would think of "living in cloud castles" to render "vivre de chimères". How does that sound to you?

Well, "chimères" is a borrowed word in French, as well as in English and Russian. It comes from Greek, as you know. And in case of borrowed words we should consider firstly the phonaesthetic component to make our decision upon their applicability. I don't know, unfortunately, the phonaesthetic background of "chimères" in French, but I can tell you about its Russian and English background. In Russian "химера" has a "poky" connotation, so it is better to avoid its use in other contexts. In English it has an "eerie" background and, besides, is used very seldom.

petit élève wrote:

Interesting. I actually thought the contrast between the illusory bliss and the following downfall would be more vivid.
"chimère" is rather neutral, I think. "agréables chimères" is quite common, to speak about foolish illusions.
So except for this nuance of "positiveness", would you say "living in cloud castles" sounds idiomatic enough?

Basing on the above said I think that we should ask a native to comment on the topic. Regular smile

sandring    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 07:19

Why, it is an idiom, but their dwellers feel happy as a rule. That's exactly why I have opted for a second translation. My perception of this song was much darker. Dostoyevsky's impact? I once used a song for my soundtrack for Jeeves and Wooster performance where the girl sang she lived in cloud castles. I'll give you a link if I can find it. Regular smile

petit élève    Sat, 14/10/2017 - 07:34

Nice! I was not familiar enough with the expression to be sure.

As I said to Ana, I'm a huge fan of Brel (then again, about every French native is), but this opera is quite atypical. It's an adaptation of American lyrics, for a start, and the tone matches the grandiloquent character of Don Quixote while Brel usually shows more restraint.

So I am a bit puzzled by all these lyrics. They oscillate between a farce and a tragedy, and since I don't know the plot well enough I sometimes can't decide whether he's being tragic or simply ironic.

Gavier    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 16:35

Nice work - interesting to compare with Pierre's version. Both good in different ways. Regular smile

My little native observations:

"The one he will solely be aware of" - sounds a little ambiguous, it could mean that he will be aware of her and nothing more. "The one he alone will be aware of" is clearer

I'm not sure about "feigned" - To feign is generally only use to make up something about yourself. It's pretty much only used in the expressions "To feign ignorance" or "to feign illness/injury". You'd be safer with "invented" or "made/dreamt up"

At his finger touch - It's ok but "at the touch of his fingers" or "at his fingertips" would be more typical.

Brat    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 16:57
Gavier wrote:

I'm not sure about "feigned" - To feign is generally only use to make up something about yourself. It's pretty much only used in the expressions "To feign ignorance" or "to feign illness/injury". You'd be safer with "invented" or "made/dreamt up"

If I may... I think it's intentional. The lady's like a mental disease. Wink smile

Gavier    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 17:24

Well that's an interesting thought but it doesn't really work for me. To feign something is to pretend something about yourself with the intention of misleading others. Ie you feign illness to avoid work. One can't feign a person, it's just not how the verb is used. Regular smile

Brat    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 17:58

Well, it may be a kind of absurd poetry. Regular smile But it is applicable only in case of the original absurdity of French text, besides. I'd say, I cast a doubt upon that, so it'd be better to rearrange the string...

petit élève    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 18:11

The French is rather standard, except for the slightly odd metaphor of the moon "melting" into dust and the use of the archaic "icelle"

Brat    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 18:11

Well, that means we are almost unanimous... Regular smile

Brat    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 18:19

I tried to imagine a Russian equivalent, - and I got the following: "Та, которую он симулировал слезливой ночью".
That's rather psychedelic. Embarrassed smile

petit élève    Tue, 17/10/2017 - 19:31

That doesn't count. Russian is a psychedelic language by design.

sandring    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 12:32

Gentlemen, thank you for pains. I've accepted Gavin's corrections otherwise my translation would have sounded a bit psychedelic for sure. To feign wasn't a misfit there as its original meaning was to create a mental image to fool oneself or others into believing it was real. With time it was used in set expressions like to feign death, madness etc. to gain something out of the situation and this meaning has become aggressively dominant overshadowing the original one. In Midsummer Night's Dream, there's a passage where the two meanings are used in one context. Anyway, that would have been a bit too deep. Brat, I'll translate it with feign The one he feigned on a tearful night Та, которую он выдумал ночью в слезах, и заставил себя поверить, что она настоящая. Все в одном глаголе. "Лучшее - враг хорошего" "The best is an enemy to the better" Regular smile

Gavier    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 12:52

Fair enough, interesting to see how 'feign' has evolved in meaning. I can see how it could fit with that wider sense but it does sound odd to a contemporary ear. Regular smile

petit élève    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 13:32

I suspect it was yet another of William's gifts, surviving in the French "feindre", which would match the modern English meaning pretty well.
No idea how that was used 400 years ago though.

sandring    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 13:01

Yes, Gavin, I agree and thank you for waking me up to reality! Regular smile

sandring    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 14:01

I'll tell you, dear, how it was used. My uni research paper "French Borrowings in Middle English". To feign does come from feindre - to pretend. But in its turn, it was borrowed from a Latin verb (can't remember which one) denoting "to make up false mental images" Shakespear used it for both directions, inwardly - to fool oneself into believing the image is real to avoid mental disturbance, and outwardly - to make others believe. Due to its use in set expressions the latter meaning became dominant in the common language while the former stayed recessive. But that's the essence of an actor's job. One can't make others believe if he doesn't believe it himself. Mind you, Gavin, as a bien élevé native speaker didn't totally deny my option. Just said it didn't work for him for some reason. Regular smile Well, I think that does it for such a short song, doesn't it?

Brat    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 14:50
sandring wrote:

I'll tell you, dear, how it was used. My uni research paper "French Borrowings in Middle English". To feign does come from feindre - to pretend. But in its turn, it was borrowed from a Latin verb (can't remember which one)

->fingere, in modern Italian it can also mean "to imagine"; and fingersi in Italian is related strictly to hoodwinking. Regular smile

petit élève    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 14:57

Don't know about my lack of manners, but ill-mannered or not, I would not embarrass myself trying to lecture people about ancient English.

I wonder what lead you to think I tried, really. I was just surprised the two words could remain so close while they apparently forked at some point in the past, and hoped to get an explanation about that from a knowledgeable person.

I got it alright, but I could have done without the knuckle rapping.

sandring    Fri, 20/10/2017 - 18:30

Excuse me, Pierre, you wondered if English had borrowed this word from French and how come it had acquired an additional meaning. In linguistics, it's called double borrowing like royal and regal, loyal and legal etc. You asked and I answered because I made some research on it. I meant well, if I sounded disrespectful I'm sorry but I don't know how and when. My last remark refers to the fact that we have at last sorted out all the problems, it was nothing personal. Regular smile

petit élève    Sat, 21/10/2017 - 03:07

Alright, I suppose we just stumbled on some rubble of the language barrier Regular smile

Gavier    Sat, 21/10/2017 - 13:33

The dangers of communication without facial expressions. Even more so in second languages! Pretty sure I've offended a couple of people recently but if I have it's always unintentional.... Well mainly Wink smile