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"epanouie ravie ruisselante"
he's describing the rain delightfully trickling off the overhangs (over storefronts on the street) then later "Ruisselante ravie epanouie" as a delayed played on words.
but i could be very wrong.


Hi Christine,

Since "epanouie" and "ravie" do not refer to the eaves, I believe "ruisselante" also refers to Barbara herself. When you run in the rain you do tend to get wet.

But my translation is not the law!


Alan Price

Thank you for your beautiful translation of Prevert's Barbara. I'm sitting in my room,
reading the words and listening to the lovely
arrangement sung by Yves Montand. So haunting about time and the fleeting moment.
Perhaps I may share with you a recent poem
of mine that touches on this. My gift for your gift of a translation.


Thick black hair. Sheen pitched
to raven feather. More sensually
caught in early morning.

Sleep hiding in a young woman’s
eye. Rubbing her tiredness
with sunburnt knuckle of hand.

Pensive. Stretching, yawning
at the long, hot work day ahead.
Grey green her cautious eyes.

Jeans for thin, kept busy, legs.
Half unbuttoned white shirt
shielding her small breasts.

Precise, yet luminous body.
Such skin to be overwhelming.
A woman clearing the tables.

Distracted by children, she spilt
my breakfast coffee. Bread
and omelette fell into the sand.

She stooped down. Amended
her story. Pretence of a waitress.
by the harbour at Corfu.

Ferry boat filling up. Sipping
a re-fill of bitter coffee.
I left her small change.

At my death, she might wait
for the end of her work shift.
Be touched on the shoulder.

Restored. One of the many,
hard won, gifts before the island
brings darkness or light.

Alan Price 2010


Dear Alan,

(Are you the musician Alan Price?) Thank you very much for the beautiful poem. I can translate correctly only into my native language, English-- few responsible translators will do otherwise. Maybe a French person who reads this will translate Alan's poem?


alan price

Dear Sedulia,

Not Alan Price the musician.
But another Alan Price. Thanks for your
response to the poem.
Recently saw the the new film on
Serge Gainsbourg. Very light, enjoyable
but didn't really dig beneath the surface of a fascinating man. Have you any translations
of his remarkable songs to offer?

Barry Breen

I love your translation. I've written a translation of this song myself and about the only differences from yours are: I had "radiant" for epanouie, I said "sorry if I speak informally" ,to get around the tu idea and, at the end, I think "of which now nothing remains" is stronger and more what Prevert said. He was saying 'there is nothing left OF Brest' not 'IN Brest".
You are quite right about translating only into your own language - I have seen on the net some terrible translations of French poetry, where the translator has gone for decidedly NON-English usage. Thanks for our translation - I'll put mine on my blog at www.poemanswers.info. Cheers.


Hi Barry! It's great for people reading poetry from a language they don't understand to have as many translations as possible. I wouldn't use the words you do, except "radiant" which is better than "delighted," and I don't like "of which." I try to make the poem sound like speech, as it is a song; I also try to match the length and stress of the original line; and I think "where there is nothing left" certainly means that Brest is completely destroyed; but these differences are exactly why lots of translations are better than one. Thanks for linking to yours!

Barry Breen

Dear Sedulia. Sorry, for some reason I have only just read your response to my post on the translation of "Barbara". I like your point about trying to match the length and stress of the original line - there are obviously so many more constraints in translating than the merely literal. Also that different translations can be enriching, as long as they are honest to the original. There are a few points I'd still argue with you but such a debate, desirable as it might be, is a bit beyond the scope of this space. Thanks for your response.

Sylvie G. Lafeuille

Hi Sedulia
I really love your translation !
It really respects the feelings expressed by Jacques PRÉVERT.
I really fine very intelligent the way you transformed "... si je te tutoies, je dis tu à ..."
Thank you very much
Amicalement, Sylvie (French)


Thank you Sylvie! Merci !


If I can give a small contribution to your exchange, let me indicate that the french version you have mentionned just below your translation seems to be not the good one as in french it's start by "Souviens toi Barbara..." and not "Rappelle-toi Barbara...".


Edouard (French)


Merci Édouard !

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