A haunting melody

Posted by lex, on May 13, 2007

Have you ever heard a song that put its hooks in you immediately? Like it had always been there, but you never quite realized it?

On the way back from DC last weekend United Airlines was playing “The Painted Veil“, a movie based on the Summerset Maugham novel of the same name and a cinema adaptation that I somehow missed hearing about, but enjoyed watching. An old British Empire couple trapped in pre-revolutionary China and all that – Victorian morality meets the flapper age – well and good as far as it goes, but there was a song towards the very end that captivated me. It was an old French nursery song, as it turned out, one one that didn’t make the soundtrack for some incomprehensible reason.

Turns out it was on a YouTube feed nonetheless, and of course as a student of the la belle langue, I had to look the lyrics up as well – it’s been far too long.

But here it is for your listening pleasure. Because I’m all about sharing. And personal growth:

A la claire fontaine

À la claire fontaine,
M’en allant promener
J’ai trouvé l’eau si belle
Que je m’y suis baigné

Refrain :
Il y a longtemps que je t’aime
Jamais je ne t’oublierai

Sous les feuilles d’un chêne,
Je me suis fait sécher
Sur la plus haute branche,
Un rossignol chantait


Chante rossignol, chante,
Toi qui as le cœur gai
Tu as le cœur à rire,
Moi je l’ai à pleurer


J’ai perdu mon amie,
Sans l’avoir mérité
Pour un bouquet de roses,
Que je lui refusais


Je voudrais que la rose,
Fût encore au rosier
Et que ma douce amie
Fût encore à m’aimer


(English at the jump)

At the clear fountain,
While I was strolling by,
I found the water so nice
That I went in to bathe.

It’s been so long that I’ve loved you,
Never will I forget you.

Under the leaves of an oak tree,
I dried myself.
Atop the highest branch,
A nightingale was singing.


Sing, nightingale, sing,
You have a happy heart.
You have a heart for laughing,
Me, I’ve got one for crying.


I lost my beloved,
Without having deserved it,
For a bouquet of roses,
Which I refused her.


I wanted the rose
To be still on the bush,
And that my sweet beloved
To be still loving me.


Yeah, I know. Sounds better in French.

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Filed under Carroll "Lex" LeFon, Politics and Culture

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