Louis Aragon’s “Les poètes”, sung by Jean Ferrat and Joan Isaac


Jean_Ferrat_(1980)_by_Erling_Mandelmann

In 1971, the great French songwriter Jean Ferrat, made a song with this homage to different poets (Antonio Machado, Hölderlin, Paul Verlaine and Marlowe) that wrote the poet Louis Aragon:

Les poètes

Je ne sais ce qui me possède
Et me pousse à dire à voix haute
Ni pour la pitié ni pour l’aide
Ni comme on avouerait ses fautes
Ce qui m’habite et qui m’obsède

Celui qui chante se torture
Quels cris en moi quel animal
Je tue ou quelle créature
Au nom du bien au nom du mal
Seuls le savent ceux qui se turent

Machado dort à Collioure
Trois pas suffirent hors d’Espagne
Que le ciel pour lui se fît lourd
Il s’assit dans cette campagne
Et ferma les yeux pour toujours

Au-dessus des eaux et des plaines
Au-dessus des toits des collines
Un plain-chant monte à gorge pleine
Est-ce vers l’étoile Hölderlin
Est-ce vers l’étoile Verlaine

Marlowe il te faut la taverne
Non pour Faust mais pour y mourir
Entre les tueurs qui te cernent
De leurs poignards et de leurs rires
A la lueur d’une lanterne

Étoiles poussières de flammes
En août qui tombez sur le sol
Tout le ciel cette nuit proclame
L’hécatombe des rossignols
Mais que sait l’univers du drame

La souffrance enfante les songes
Comme une ruche ses abeilles
L’homme crie où son fer le ronge
Et sa plaie engendre un soleil
Plus beau que les anciens mensonges

Je ne sais ce qui me possède
Et me pousse à dire à voix haute
Ni pour la pitié ni pour l’aide
Ni comme on avouerait ses fautes
Ce qui m’habite et qui m’obsède

The poets

I don’t know what’s possessing me/ and move me to call out/ either by mercy nor help/ nor as confessing the faults/ That what is dwelling in me and obsessing me.// Who sings is torturing himself,/what cries are in me, what animal/ I kill, or what creature,/ in the name of good, in the name of evil/ only those wo kept quiet know it.// Machado is sleeping at Collioure/ Three steps were enough to be out of Spain/ sky got heavy for him/ He sat in this field/ and closed his eyes forever.// Over the waters and the plains/ over the roofs and the hills/ a simple singing arise at the top of his voice/ up to the star Hölderlin/ up to the star Verlaine.// Marlowe, you need the tabern/ not for Fausto, but to die within it/ among the killers that sorround you/ with their poniards and their laughings/ at the light of a lantern.// Stars, dust of flames/ that in August you fall to the Earth,/ the entire sky proclaims tonight/ the nightingale hecatomb/ but, what does the Universe know about the drama.// Suffering gives birth to the dreams/ like a hive to the bees/ Man shouts where the iron gawns him/ and his wound engenders a sun/ more beautiful than the ancient lyings.// I don’t know what’s possessing me/ and move me to call out/ either by mercy nor help/ nor as confessing the faults/ That what is dwelling in me and obsessing me.

Louis Aragon

Music by Jean Ferrat

Words and Spanish translation:

http://lachanson.blogspot.com.es/2010/11/jean-ferrat-les-poetes-louis-aragon.html

(English translation made upon the Spanish translation by me)

In 1977, the Catalan songwriter Joan Isaac made his version, upon the translation and adaptation of Josep Maria Espinàs (ex-songwriter and founder of Setze Jutges). In this version, there are too little changes, being the most significant the change of the poets Hölderlin and Verlain for the Catalan poets Josep Carner and Joan Salvat-Papasseit:

Els poetes

Jo no sé pas què em posseeix
i ara m’impulsa a dir en veu alta
no per pregar pietat ni ajut,
ni per a confessar cap falta
allò que m’omple i m’obsedeix.

Cantar és tortura i és dissort.
Quins crits en mi, quin animal
jo mato o quina criatura
en nom del bé, en nom del mal.
Només ho saben els qui han mort.

Machado a Cotlliure és
només un pas enllà de Roses.
El cel li fou feixuc i gris
però es quedà en aquest país
i, tancà els ulls per sempre més.

Damunt la plana i el serrat,
damunt les aigües i el coster
un cant s’enfila ple d’esclat,
cap a l’estel Josep Carner,
cap a l’estel Joan Salvat.

Estels, sou fets amb pols de flama
quan ve l’agost caieu, caieu
i tot el cel de nit proclama
la mortandat dels rossinyols
però l’univers què en sap del drama.

El dolor dóna als somnis vida
com ho fa el rusc amb les abelles
i l’home crida on rep ferida
i on té la nafra neix un sol
més bell que l’antiga mentida.

Jo no sé pas què em posseeix
i ara m’impulsa a dir en veu alta
no per pregar pietat ni ajut,
ni per a confessar cap falta
allò que m’omple i m’obsedeix.

The poets

I don’t know what’s possessing me/ and move me now to say aloud/ –not for supplicate mercy or help/ nor confessing any fault-/ that what’s fills and obsesses me.// To sing is torment and misery/ What cries are in me, what animal/ I kill whatever creature/ in the name of good, in the name of evil./ Only those who died know it.// Machado is at Collioure,/ just some steps beyond Rosas./ Sky was grievous and grey for him,/ but he stood in this country/ and closed his eyes forevermore.// Over the plain and the mountain range,/ over the waters and the shore/ a song arises full with light,/ up to the star Josep Carner,/ up to the star Joan Salvat.// Stars, you are made of dust of flame/ when august comes you fall, fall/ and the whole night sky proclaims/ the mortality of the nightingales/ but what does the Universe know about the drama.// Pain gives life to the dreams/ just like the hive does with the bees/ and the man shouts where he gets his wound/ and where he has the crust a sun borns/ more beautiful than the ancient lie.

Translation and adaptation by Josep Maria Espinàs

Spanish translation, made by José Manuel Caballero Bonald:

https://albokari2.wordpress.com/2007/02/23/els-poetes/

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