La Bohème: Charles Aznavour

Je vous parle d’un temps que les moins de vingt ans ne peuvent pas connâitre
Montmartre en ce temps-là accrochait ses lilas
Jusque sous nos fenêtres
Et si l’humble garnis qui nous servait de nid ne payait pas de mine
c’est là qu’on s’est connu, moi qui criait famine et toi qui posais nue
La bohème, la bohème, ça voulait dire on est heureux
La bohème, la bohème, nous ne mangions qu’un jour sur deux
Dans les cafés voisins nous étions quelques uns qui attendions la gloire
Et bien que miséreux avec le ventre creux nous ne cessions d’y croire
Et quand quelque bistro contre un bon repas chaud, nous prenait une toile
Nous recitions des vers groupés autour du poële en oubliant l’hiver
La bohème, la bohème, ça voulait dire tu es jolie
La bohème, la bohème, et nous avions tous du génie
Souvent il m’arrivait devant mon chevalet de passer des nuits blanches
Retouchant le dessin de le ligne d’un sein, du galbe d’une hanche
Et ce n’est qu’au matin qu’on s’asseyait enfin devant un café crême
Épuisés mais ravis fallait-il que l’on s’aime et qu’on aime la vie
La bohème, la bohème, ça voulait dire on a vingt ans
La bohème, la bohème, Et nous vivions de l’air du temps
Quand au hasard des jours je m’en vais faire un tour
À mon ancienne adresse
Je ne reconnais plus ni les murs, ni les rues
Qui ont vu ma jeunesse
En haut d’un escalier je cherche l’atelier
Dont plus rien ne subsiste
Dans son nouveau décor
Montmartre semble triste
Et les lilas sont morts
La bohème, la bohème, on était jeune, on était fou
La bohème, la bohème, ça ne veut plus rien dire du tout.

I tell you of a time that those less than 20 don’t know
Montmartre, at that time, hung its lilacs just under our windows
And if our humble loft, which served as a nest, didn’t look great
It was there that we met, you who cried out hunger
And me who posed nude
Being bohemians meant we were happy
Being bohemians, we ate only every other day.

In the neighbouring cafés, we were the ones that waited for glory
And even though miserable with empty stomachs,
We never ceased to believe in it.
And when some bistro exchanged a hot meal,
We would give a painting.
We recited poetry, grouped around a stove, forgetting winter.
Being bohemians meant you were pretty
Being bohemian meant we had all the talent.

Often I’d arrive and stay up all night in front of my easel
retouching the drawing of a line of a breast, the curve of a hip
And it wasn’t until morning that we’d finally sit ourselves
in front of a creamed coffee exhausted but radiant
we had to love each other and love life
Being bohemian meant we were 20 years old
Being bohemians, we lived on nothing/we lived the song of the times.

When by chance I pass by my old address
I don’t recognize anymore the walls or the streets of my youth
At the top of a staircase, I look for the studio that doesn’t exist anymore
In its renovation, Montmartre seems sad and the lilacs have died.
Being Bohemian,
We were young, we were crazy
Bohemian life no longer means anything at all.

A Charles Aznavour song from 1965. Charles Aznavour, OC (born Shahnour Vaghenag Aznavourian; Armenian: Շահնուր Վաղինակ Ազնավուրեան; Shahnour Vaghinak Aznavurian; May 22, 1924) is an Armenian-French singer, songwriter, actor, public activist and diplomat.

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About layanglicana

Author of books on Calcutta, Delhi and Dar es Salaam, I am now blogging as a lay person about the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. I am also blogging about the effects of World War One on the village of St Mary Bourne, Hampshire.
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