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de Léo Ferré

You should listen to this song if : You like poetry, or you think you're a misunderstood genius.

About this song : This poem of Baudelaire is learnt by almost all students in France. Unfortunately, at an age when one doesn't care about poetry.

About the author : Léo Ferré is a French poet, author, composer and interpret. From wikipedia : "Along with Georges Brassens and Jacques Brel, he is considered one of the greatest composers and writers of French songs. Ferré mixed love and melancholy with moral anarchy, lyricism with slang, rhyming verse with prose monologues. He moved from music-hall to orchestral music, breaking free from the traditional song structure during the 1970s, inventing his own musical territory, powerfully dramatic and unique. He also set to music several poems by the French poètes maudits, such as François Villon, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, and Arthur Rimbaud, as well as French poets from the 20th century like Guillaume Apollinaire and Louis Aragon ("Il n'aurait fallu"). He took a central place in the French song world and is a prominent figure in this domain".
His political engagement  was longlasting, he was deeply involved in anarchism. His political views inspired many of his songs. To learn more about him, click on Léo Ferré (in English) or on Léo Ferré (en français)

Les paroles, and their approximate translation :

Souvent, pour s'amuser, les hommes d'équipage
Often, for fun, the crew

Prennent des albatros, vastes oiseaux des mers,
captures albatrosses, vast sea birds,

Qui suivent, indolents compagnons de voyage,
that follow, indolent fellow travelers,

Le navire glissant sur les gouffres amers.
The ship gliding over the bitter chasms.

A peine les ont-ils déposés sur les planches,
No sooner have they put them down on board,

Que ces rois de l'azur, maladroits et honteux,
That these kings of the sky, awkward and ashamed,

Laissent piteusement leurs grandes ailes blanches
Let their great white wings pathetically

Comme des avirons traîner à côté d'eux
Lie like oars at their sides.

Ce voyageur ailé, comme il est gauche et veule!
This winged traveller, how clumsy and feeble he is !

Lui, naguère si beau, qu'il est comique et laid!
Him, once so beautiful, how comical and ugly he is !

L'un agace son bec avec un brûle-gueule,
One tickles his beak with his pipe,

L'autre mime, en boitant, l'infirme qui volait!
The other mimicks, limping, the crippled who flew !

Le Poète est semblable au prince des nuées
The Poet is like the prince of the clouds

Qui hante la tempête et se rit de l'archer;
Who haunts the storm and ignores the bowman,

Exilé sur le sol au milieu des huées,
Exiled on the ground in the middle of jeerings

Ses ailes de géant l'empêchent de marcher.
His wings of giant prevent him from walking.


What would I buy for my best friend  ?

(click on the album image corresponding to your country,
it will connect you to the right page on Amazon)

Your country


Léo Ferré
"chante Baudelaire" album
on Amazon
(including "l'albatros")
(single mp3 download)

not available,
just the album above
not available,
just the album above

not available,
just the album above
not available,
just the album above

not available,
just the album above

not available,
just the album above

not available,
just the album above


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