Archive for the ‘French slam’ Category

English translation of ‘Chercheur de Phases’ by Grand Corps Malade
19 April, 2011

Hello all!

My apologies for the very long break between posts, I guess life kind of got in the way. I started the blog when I was a Masters student and now I have a full time job, I have less time for my own projects. Anyway, below is a translation of Grand Corps Malade’s ‘Chercheur de phases’. I couldn’t work out the English for ‘phases’ (any tips?) so I translated this as a seeker of lines.  I suppose I would call it, ‘The Golden Poet’ in English. In the original, it is a fantastic extended analogy of the gold diggers of the American West and the job of the poet, and I hope I’ve captured some of that spirit in the translation. It’s one of the best written pieces about the obsession and joy that writing can bring that I know. Enjoy.

Here is the original song, with a video created by an arts student, not how I imagined it myself but it’s pretty cute:

He crossed a whole country to reach the Far West
With only a old pair of slacks, a large sack and a vest
He considers himself an adventurer, will he stick or fold?
He is, among others, a simple seeker of gold

He searches through all the rivers, tracking the faintest gleams,
By day his shakes his sieve, by night he searches in his dreams
He picks up each stone to see what on the other side
He sometimes looks until he’s drunk and wild eyed.

He sounds out the grains of sand to uncover the precious nugget
He always takes his time, and he knows not to rush it
Even at night at home, he still looks in the dark and cold
His eyes are like radar, he’s a true seeker of gold

It took hold of him one day, as he saw the others leave
He said to himself, why not me, I could be rich, I believe
And ever since, he’s criss-crossed the world with a bag, a few things
This is, at the end of the day, the most beautiful gift life brings.

When he finds a little gold, it’s like nothing else ever existed
He sees nothing, hears nothing, it’s like he’s autistic
And then he wants more, he’ll look until he’s frail and old,
He is, among others, a simple seeker of gold

I crossed a whole room to reach my writing desk,
With only a pen, some paper and my right hand
I consider myself a poet, is it true or just in my mind?
I am, among others, a simple seeker of lines

I search through all the sentences, and track the smallest rhyme,
By shaking my mind night and day, no matter the time,
I pick up each syllable to see the other side
I sometimes look until I’m drunk and wild eyed.

I sound out all the words to uncover the perfect ending
I always take my time, this technique is patent pending
Even when I leave home, I use every ounce of time
To catch inspiration, I am a simple seeker of lines

It took hold of me, day by day, as I saw others write
I realised that writing could make my spirit feel bright
And ever since, when I put the right word to its place and time,
This is the most best of all feeling, an eighteen-carat gold rhyme.

When I find a good line, it’s like nothing else ever existed
I see nothing, hear nothing, it’s like I’m autistic
And then I want more, I want someone to remember my rhymes,
I am, among others, a simple seeker of lines.

Here is the full text in French:

As ever, I really appreciate your comments, and suggestions for improving the translation!

Thank you,

Will Deben


‘Ça peut chémar’ translation – Grand Corps Malade (4)
2 July, 2007

This is for ‘b’ who said that the end of ‘ça peut chémar’ was one of his favourites, it’s one of mine too! This comes from the last verse – a new beat strikes up and Grand Corps Malade lays these rhymes over the top:

Alors on a monté des projets loin des projecteurs
Pour éviter les projectiles des rageurs jeteurs de sorts
Est-ce la mentalité de banlieue ou la mentalité française
Mais les meilleures idées sont souvent celles qui se taisent
Doit-on vraiment changer d’envie ou changer d’environnement
Pour se fixer des objectifs et les atteindre ouvertement
Des mecs qui te jettent le mauvais oeil, on en connaît depuis le préau
Je dois avouer que même entre nous, on s’est pas toujours tirés vers le haut
Mais fini de s’imposer notre propre censure, on n’a pas de sang sur les mains
Alors pourquoi ne pas être sûrs qu’on est sur le bon chemin
Nous n’étions pas forts mais ce passé nous a formés et plus jamais je me marre
Quand j’entends cette phrase résonnait : “Je te jure ça peut chémar”.

This is my translation:

So, we made our plans far from the moves and shakers,
To avoid the projectiles of the angry magic makers,
Is it the mentality of the suburbs or of France that’s broken?
Why is it that the best ideas so often rest unspoken?
What is it we need to change: our minds or our environment?
To really focus on our goals and reach them, pride not bent
The guys that give the dodgy looks, we’ve known them since pre-school,
And, I must admit between us, not always helped each other stand tall
But it’s finished with the self-censorship, there’s no blood on my hands,
So why are we not sure our right path starts right where we stand,
We weren’t strong in the past, but it formed us, so no more do I see life as a dilemma,
When I this phrase hits my ear: “Trust me, ça peut chémar”

I left ‘ça peut chémar’ in French – the literal translation is ‘that can work’ or ‘we can do it’ something like that. The word ‘chémar’ is verlan – French slang from the suburbs. Verlan is made from taking a normal French word and swaping the first and second syllables; so ‘fou’ meaning crazy becomes ‘ouf’; ‘femmes’ women become ‘meufs’ and ‘marcher’ to work becomes ‘chémar’. What’s more if you take the French for backwards or in reverse which is ‘l’envers’, and flip the syllables round you get ‘verlan’, volia! 🙂

Check out the song here: