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Fiancailles Pour Rire

Translation by Johnson, Graham and Richard Stokes ix


Fiancailles Pour Rire is a song cycle based on the poetry of a dear friend, Louise de Vilmorin. Poulenc
considered these texts to be truly feminine. The poetry is slight, modest, elegant: nostalgia and
reflection, rather than action or immediacy, are the important themes throughout the otherwise unrelated
poems. The overall emotional atmosphere is bittersweet, which Poulenc delicately underscores.
Fianailles pour Rire, Light-Hearted Betrothal
(Louise de Vilmorin)

La dame dAndr Andrs ladyfriend


Andr ne connat pas la dame Andr does not know the woman
Quil prend aujourdhui par la main. Whose hand he takes today.
A-t-elle un coeur lendemains Has she a heart for the future,
Et pour le soir a-t-elle une me? And for evening has she a soul?
Au retour dun bal campagnard Returning from a country dance,
Sen allait-elle en robe vague Did she in her loose-fitting gown
Chercher dans le meules la bague Go and seek in the haystacks
Des fianailles du hassard? The ring of random betrothal?
A-t-elle eu peur, la nuit venue, Was she afraid, when night fell,
Guette par les ombres dhier. Watched by the ghosts of the past,
Dans son jardin lorsque lhiver In her garden, when winter
Entrait par la grande avenue? Entered by the wide avenue?
Il la aime pour sa couleur He loved her for her complexion,
Pour sa bonne humeur de Dimanche. For her Sunday good humour.
Plira-t-elle aux feuilles blanches Will she fade on the blank pages
De son album des temps meilleurs? Of his album of better days?

Dans lherbe
Je ne peux plus rien dire In the grass
Ni rien faire pour lui. I can say nothing more
Il est mort de sa belle Do nothing more for him.
Il est mort de sa mort belle He died for his fair one
Dehors He died a fair death
Sous larbre de la Loi Outside
En plein silence Beneath the tree of Justice
En plein paysage In utter silence
Dans lherbe. In open country
Il est mort inaperu In the grass.
Encriant son passage He died unnoticed
En appelant, en mappelant Crying out as he passed away
Mais comme jtais loin de lui Calling, Calling me
Et que sa voix ne portait plus But since I was far from him
Il est mort seul dans les bois And since his voice no longer carried
Sous son arbre denfance He died alone in the woods
Beneath his childhood tree
Et je ne peux plus rien dire
Ni rien faire pour lui Do nothing more for him.
And I can say nothing more

Il vole*
En allant se coucher le soleil Stealing away
Se reflte au vernis de ma table: The sun as it sets
Cest le fromage rond de la fable Is reflected in my polished table
Au bec de mes ciseaux de vermeil. It is the round cheese of the fable
Mais o est le corbeau? Il vole. In the beak of my silver scissors.
Je voudrais coudre mais un aimant But wheres the crow? Stealing away.
Attire lui toutes mes aiguilles. Id like to sew but a magnet
Sur la place les joueurs de quilles Attracts all my needles.
De belle en belle passent le temps. In the square the skittle players
Mais o est mon amant? Il vole. Pass the time playing game after game.
Cest un voleur que jai pour amant, But wheres my lover? Stealing away.
Le corbeau vole et mon amant vole, Ive a stealer for lover,
Voleur de coeur manque sa parole The crow steals away and my lover steals,
Et voleur de fromage est absent. The stealer of my heart breaks his word
Mais o est le bonheur? Il vole. And the stealer of cheese is absent.
Je pleure sous le saule pleureur But where is happiness? Stealing away.
Je mle mes larmes ses feuilles I weep under the weeping willow
Je pleure car je veux quon me veuille I mingle my tears with its leaves
Et je ne plais pas mon voleur. I weep because I want to be wanted
Mais o donc est lamour? Il vole. And because my stealer doesnt care for me.
Trouvez la rime ma draison But where can love be? Stealing away.
Et par les routes du paysage Find the sense in my nonsense
Ramenez-moi mon amant volage And along the country ways
Qui prend les coeurs et perd ma raison. Bring me back to my wayward lover
Je veux que mon voleur me vole. Who steals hearts and robs me of my senses.
* Voler = to fly and to thieve, an almost I want my stealer to steal me.
untranslatable double meaning.

Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant Les deux derniers monts que jai vus
Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant la minute o jai perdu
Doux comme un gant de peau glace La course que les annes gagnent.
Et mes prunelles effaces Mon souvenir est ressemblant.
Font de mes yeux des cailloux blancs. Enfants emportez-le bien vite,
Deux cailloux blancs dans mon visage, Allez, allez, ma vie est dite.
Dans le silence deux muets Mon cadavre est doux comme un gant.
Ombrs encore dun secret
Et lourds du poids mort des images.
My corpse is as soft as a glove
Mes doigts tant de fois gars
My corpse is as soft as a glove
Sont joints en attitude sainte Soft as a glove of frozen skin
Appuys au creux de mes plaints And my hidden pupils
Au noeud de mon coeur arrt. Make two white pebbles of my eyes.
Et mes deux pieds sont les montagnes, Two white pebbles in my face
Two mutes in the silence At the very moment I lost the race
Still darkened by a secret That the years always win.
Laden with the dead weight of what theyve seen My memory is resembling
My fingers that roved so often Children, bear it swiftly away,
Are joined in a saintly pose Go, go my life is over.
Resting on the hollow of my sorrows My corpse is a soft as a glove.
At the centre of my arrested heart.
And my two feet are mountains,
The last two hills that I saw

Violon
Couple amoureux aus accents mconnus Violin
Le violon et son joueur me plaisent. Loving couple of misapprehended sounds
Ah! jaime ces gmissements tendus Violin and player please me.
Sur la corde des malaises. Ah! I love these long wailings
Aux accords sur les cordes des pendus Stretched on the string of disquiet.
lheure o les Lois se taisent To the sound of strung-up chords
Le coeur en forme de fraise At the hour when Justice is silent
Soffre lamour comme un fruit inconnu. The heart shaped like a strawberry
Gives itself to love like an unknown fruit.

Fleurs
Fleurs promises, fleurs tenues dans tes bras, Flowers
Fleurs sorties des parenthses dun pas, Promised flowers, flowers held in your arms,
Qui tapportait ces fleurs lhiver Flowers from a steps parentheses,
Saupoudrs du sable des mers? Who brought you these flowers in winter
Sable de tes baisers, fleurs des amours fanes Sprinkled with the seas sand?
Les beaux yeux sont de cendre et dans la chemine Sand of your kisses, flowers of faded loves
Un coeur enrubann de plaints Your lovely eyes are ashes and in the hearth
Brle avec ses images saintes. A moan-beribboned heart
Burns with its sacred images.