Saturday, February 6, 2010

Poulenc in 9 Chickweed Lane

I never imagined seeing Francis Poulenc in the funny papers. But here he is — or his music is — in Brooke McEldowney’s 9 Chickweed Lane.

And here is a performance of “C” by Hugues Cuénod. And here is an English translation of Louis Aragon’s poem. And here is my translation:


I have crossed the bridges of Cé
That is where it all began
A song of the past
Tells of a wounded knight

Of a rose in the road
And a blouse undone
Of a mad duke’s castle
And the swans in the moat

Of the meadow where dances
An eternal fiancée
And I have drunk like ice-cold milk
The long song of false glories

The Loire bears off my thoughts
With the overturned cars
And the unprimed weapons
And the unerased tears

O my France o my forsaken one
I have crossed the bridges of Cé.
[Translation added February 7, 2010. Licensed under a Creative Commons 3.0 License.]

comments: 14

Anonymous said...

here is a better translation: I have crossed the bridges of Ce/ That's where everything began/ A song of times gone by/ Sung by wounded knights/ Of a rose on the shoe/ And an unlaced bodice/ Of a castle of an insane knight/ And of swans in the moat/ Ot the meadow where dances/ The eternal bride/ And have drunk like frozen milk/ The long lay of the false glories/ The lorrie carries my thoughts/ With the overturned tanks/ And the unprimed guns/ And the sac tears obliterate it/ O my France, oh my abandoned land/ I have crossed the bridges of Ce.

Anonymous said...

It was surprising - looks like the character "Kiesl" is developing into a likable sort of guy. Of course he was from the moment he introduced himself as being Austrian. "Deux Poemes" is a very moving piece.

"J’ai traverse les ponts de Cé
C’est lá que tout a commence
Une chanson des temps passes
Parle d’un chevalier blesse..."

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Anons. Anon. no. 1, I like your second and third lines. But shoe? Lorrie? Am I missing something?

abb said...

Thanks for this - I adore 9 Chickweed but must admit I was a little lost. Good to know about the song - Today's strip now makes sense! (I'm finding this story line fascinating!)

Michael Leddy said...

You’re welcome. It’s a beautiful song.

Anonymous said...

As a young music student I was unable to understand the passion and anguish behind the poen, and thus unable to link it to Poulenc's music...I'm so grateful to have at almost 60 rediscovered this jewel...and via a comic strip? thank you all for the thoughtful translations...

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for sharing your history with the song here, Anon.

mike weber/fairportfan said...

"Rose on a shoe" - perhaps a lady's satin dancing slipper?

Michael Leddy said...

The word in question is chaussée, so Anon’s translation is either playfully homophonic or just careless.

The French poem is under copyright, so I didn’t reproduce it here, but you can find it in the sidebar of the YouTube page with Hugues Cuénod’s performance.

Joseph said...

Written 3/3: The story deepens. I am learning a lot from researching this story that McEldowney is crafting. The story's notion that the song was smuggled out of France is very true to the song's origin - Poulenc and Aragon were both part of the resistance, and the song was published underground as part of the resistance. The literal bridges of C are on the stretch of the Loire where both the ancient Romans and the modern Germans invaded Gaul/France. I know the topic here is more about the song than the comic, but I have to say: McEldowney's weaving of art and story is always good, but here he is being phenomenal. I fear for how the story will be resolved, but can't wait to read the next installment every day.

Kayla said...

I would actually translate it as 'bodice' rather than 'blouse.' Otherwise, this is a quite good translation.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks, Kayla. I liked the possible anachronism of “blouse.”

The Edna storyline is still going, three months later. What a remarkable comic strip.

Nancy Acorn said...

As a singer myself I have really been drawn into the story of Edie and Kiesl. Somehow the song seem to be a forshadowing also of what will probably be a tragic end to their love. I wonder how this will all play out we know they do not get to be together and we know Juliette is the product.

Michael Leddy said...

Thanks for reading and commenting, Nancy. It looks as though the storyline is nearing its end. I’m reading 9CL every day.