Saturday, March 28, 2015

Les Frères Jacques - General for sale

Original Title: "Général à vendre"
Early morning I got up it was Sunday
To the old cart I hitched up the white mare
To go to the market
In the chief town of the country
Apparently there were generals for sale

But the sun crushed the white road so much
The mare stopped so often under the branches
That when I was there
No one had waited for me
And all the generals had been sold

Although over there at the very bottom of the fair's field
By a stroke of luck one was remaining
He wasn't covered with glory
But with a little bit of Ripolin²
He could still look very well

I traded him against a crate of unripe apples
Four cauliflowers and a slice of bread with jam
All this for a general
It was really not that bad
And then I loaded him in the cart

At home I received bitter reproaches
One more apparently I had let myself be pushed around
A General in that state
Was worth much less than that
But as it was done too bad for me

And then the kids got scared of his mustache
It was red and it made them cry
We cut him one side of it
But the dog started to bark
So we left the other half

He did nothing so to not stain his beautiful suit
Time to time he peeled a few vegetables
Or repaired the stepladder
Or unblocked the washbasin
But he wasn't even able to play piano

Yet some evening, some summer evenings
The General sat down on the straw
And the eyes lost in the vastness
He told us about his battles

He told us about the Dardanelles
When he was only a Colonel
And the campaign of Orient
When he was only a Major
The Napoleonian epic
When he was only a Captain
And then the hundred years war
When he was just a lieutenant
The Crusades and Pepin the Short
When he was just a chief-sergeant
And the elephants of Hannibal
When he was just a corporal
The Thermopylae, Leonidas
When he was just a second class
And Ramses II, the first was
When his mother was canteen manageress

Then the General until the early morning
Unwound the thread of his vast story
Then he fell asleep on his bundle of hay
And us without speaking
We were dreaming of glory

He stayed at home like that
Up to fall
Without working without finding life monotonous
It even surprised us
To learn from the parish priest
That he had made twins to the maid

And then here is that one fine morning
Of December
He entered without even knocking
In my bedroom
He just had read in the newspaper
That he was promoted Marshal
Thus he was leaving us it was inevitable

I drove him back to town
I have been given back my cauliflowers
And my crates
And without useless emotion
Without tears and without saying a word
We part our ways like true heroes

At home life went back to normal without adventures
There is no one left to steal our jam
The General at the bistrot
Had planted a flag
For motherland I paid the bill

I never went back to the market
But sometimes in the sky of a summer night
Five stars can be seen
And it hurts us a little
Oh never buy a General

²French enamel paint, expression to do something up

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