Saturday, May 31, 2008

Gentil coquelicot

This is for Joe, who reminded me of it the other day, when he was talking about the different French words for poppy.

The French words go:

J'ai descendu dans mon jardin
Pour y cueillir du romarin.
(refrain) Gentil coq'licot, Mesdames, Gentil coq'licot nouveau.
J'en avais pas cueilli trois brins,
Qu'un rossignol vint sur ma main.
Il me dit trois mots en latin.
Que les hommes ne valent rien.
Et les garçons encore moins bien
Des dames il ne me dit rien,
Mais des demoiselles, beaucoup de bien!

Gentil coq'licot, Mesdames, Gentil coqlicot nouveau.

And here's my fairly loose and ham-fisted attempt at a translation, which doesn't fit with the tune at all, except perhaps the refrain line, but I've tryed to maintain the spirit!

I went down to my garden
To gather rosemary,
I had not gathered three sprigs,
When a nightingale came to me.

Poppy, sweet poppy, my ladies, poppy, sweet poppy anew.

He lighted on my hand,
And spoke up loud and clear,
Three words to say in Latin
Men were worth naught, I fear.

That men were worse than worthless,
And boys worth even less,
Of ladies he said nothing,
But of fair maids spoke the best.
Poppy, sweet poppy my ladies, poppy, sweet poppy anew.

I remember it from school, but haven't heard it here. I mentioned it to my older students, who knew it and were able to sing me a snatch, but couldn't remember much. They said they'd look up the words on the net and sing it to me when we go to the Ile de Brehat on our end of term jaunt next week. Anais's father Jean-Jacques, vaguely remembered it but the youngsters didn't know it.

(This is also my first attempt at embedding a video, so I'm quite pleased!)


Anonymous said...

How lucky to find the video, and such a sweet one. Last December I was trying to recall a Finnish children's Christmas group song and could not find a decent video of it, though with a great deal of hunting found the words. I wanted to share it with my grandkids. Do you do that, try to recall childhood games and songs? I've forgotten so much.

Elizabeth said...

Good for you!
That was lovely.
I love poppies...
Have a wonderful weekend.
Pax, EJT

Unknown said...

Thank you so much, Lucy. I don't no why I find a note of sadness in those lovely, essentially cheerful French children's songs. It brought a tear to my eye. I shall save it for my grand kids when they next come.

Catalyst said...

Beautiful tune and animation but those words! I liked it better before you translated it. :)

Fire Bird said...

I have a vague memory of this from school... funny hair that lady's got - like Marge Simpson's only in grey...

Granny J said...

Lovely little song. A pity that your young French students appear to be as bad as young Americans when it comes to memories from past years.

Lucy said...

Thanks all, glad you liked it!
ML - It's less easy to find stuff on the net in French than English, presumabl harder still in more minority languages, perhaps you should start collecting the Finnish things you remember and getting them on there before they go.
Elizabeth - thanks, you too!
Joe - glad you enjoyed it, thanks for making me think of it. In fact there are a whole series of these French children's songs and animations on You-tube, but this one is particularly melancholy somehow.
Cat - perhaps the rather bleak view of the relations between the sexes it offers accounts for its decline! But folk songs in many languages contain a similar message...
Pol - well, I guess that's what's called a Pompadour! I loved the little bewigged gentlemen too.
GJ - Fortunately someone is troubling to record them. My students are often quite surprised at the English songs I've got at my fingertips, but in fact they have quite a lot of these haunting and catchy little tunes which they rather forget about... I think singing with and to children has suffered a bit of recent years everywhere.

Pam said...

Lovely little tune but the words are rather unkind! I enjoyed singing along. I like the way the words keep repeating the previous line.

Jules said...

That was really lovely. I enjoyed it a lot and thank you for the translation.