All translations to these lyrics that I’ve read have been horrendously stilted. Maybe, if you’re better at French, you can tell me what they mean to you?
Mon coeur se recommande à vous,
Tout plein d’ennui et de martyre;
Au moins en dépit des jaloux
Faites qu’à Dieu vous puisse dire!
Ma bouche qui voulait sourire
Et conter propos gracieux
Ne fait maintenant que maudire
Ceux qui m’ont banni de vos yeux.
On the last day before the end of girls chorus camp, everyone would gather in the dining hall. Right before we packed onto the busses, we would join hands in a circle and sing this song. I never fully understood the words, but the melody and the tears streaming down the girls’ faces said enough. We left our hearts, pieces of ourselves, with each other in a way that is incomprehensible to anyone who wasn’t there.
Something that makes me sad whenever I think of it is that I will never be able to fully feel the beauty of these words because I don’t understand French. If I did, I would only understand in a mechanical, useful way. Never in the way that native speakers do. Words have personalities and by the time you’ve lived all your years speaking one language, they develop associations and a richness that just don’t exist to a non-native speaker. Words can open up entire imagined worlds bursting with playfulness and nuance. Ah, but I’m left with my poor scrabbling for proper mappings from foreign words to ones I understand.
If I could live forever, I would. If only so I could read and truly understand great works in their original languages.