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Poulenc - Le bal masqué

Le bal masqué1

Poulenc (1932)

Air de bravoure

Madame la Dauphine,
Fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine,
Fine, fine, fine, fine.
Ne verra pas, ne verra pas le beau film
Qu'on y a fait tirer
_Les vers du nez_ 2
Car on l'a mené en terre avec son premier-né
En terre et à Nanterre
Où elle est enterrée.

Quand un paysan de Chine3
Chine, Chine, Chine, Chine
Veut avoir des primeurs
Il va chez l'imprimeur
Ou bien chez sa voisine
Shin, Shin, Shin, Shin, Shin, Shin,
Tous les paysans de la Chine
Les avaient épiés
Pour leur mettre des bottines
Tine! tine!
Ils leurs coupent les pieds.

M. le comte d'Artois
Est monté sur le toit
Faire un compte d'ardoise
Toi, toi, toi, toi,
Et voir par la lunette
Nette! nette! pour voir si la lune est
Plus grosse que le doigt.
Un vapeur et sa cargaison
Son, son, son, son, son, son,
Ont échoué contre la maison.
Son, son, son, son,
Chipons da la graisse d'oie
Doye, doye, doye,
Pour en faire des canons.


Voilà qui j'espère vous effraie
Mademoiselle Malvina ne quitte plus
son éventail
Depuis qu'elle est morte.
Son gant gris perle est étoilé d'or.
Elle se tirebouchonne comme une valse
Elle vient mourir d'amour à ta porte
Près du grès où l'on met les cannes.
Disons qu'elle est morte du diabète
Morte du gros parfum qui lui penchait le cou.
Oh! l'honnête animal! si chaste et si peu fou!
Moins gourmet que gourmande elle était de
Agrégé ès lettres et chargée de cours
C'était en chapeau haut qu'on lui faisait
la cour
Or, on ne l'aurait eue qu'à la méthode
Malvina, ô fantôme, que Dieu te garde!

La dame aveugle

La dame aveugle dont les yeux saignent choisi
ses mots
Elle ne parle à personne de ses maux

Elle a des cheveux pareils à la mousse
Elle porte des bijoux et des pierreries rousses.

La dame grasse et aveugle dont les yeux
Écrit des lettres polies avec marges et

Elle prend garde aux plis de sa robe de
Et s'efforce de faire quelque chose de plus

Et si je ne mentionne pas son beau-frère
C'est qu'ici ce jeune homme n'est pas en

Car il s'enivre et fait s'enivrer l'aveugle
Qui rit, qui rit alors et beugle.


Réparateur perclus de vieux automobiles,
L'anachorète hélas a regagné son nid,
Par ma barbe je suis trop vieillard pour Paris,
L'angle de tes maisons m'entre dans
les chevilles.
Mon gilet quadrillé a, dit-on, l'air étrusque
Et mon chapeau marron va mal avec
mes frusques.
Avis! c'est un placard qu'on a mis sur
ma porte.
Dans ce logis tout sent la peau de chèvre

Max Jacob

1The title is Jacob's and heads a group of poems describing the various characters at a masked ball. Except for the first text they all come from this group, the first having no title in the printed edition. The last is a poetic portrait by Jacob of himself. For one of the interludes Poulenc has taken a theme from Verdi's opera of the same name.

The masked ball


Bravura aria

Madam the Dauphine,
fine, fine, fine, fine, fine, fine,
fine, fine, fine, fine,
will not see, will not see the beautiful film
for which they had drilled her there
_pulling the worms from the nose_
for they lead her beneath the earth with her first-born
beneath the earth and at Nanterre
where she is buried.

When a peasant from China
China, China, China, China,
wants to have early vegetables
he goes to the printer
or to his neighbour's wife
shin, shin, shin, shin, shin, shin,
all the peasants of China
had spied on them
to put little boots on them
tine! tine!
they cut off their feet.

Monsieur the count of Artois
climbed onto the roof
to count up the tiles
you, you, you, you,
and to see through the telescope
clearly, clearly, to see whether the moon is
fatter than the finger.
A steamer and its cargo
son, son, son, son, son, son,
foundered against the house,
son, son, son, son.
Let's pinch some goose grease
doye, doye, doye,
with which to make canons.


There is the one I hope frightens you
Mademoiselle Malvina no longer leaves
her fan
ever since she died.
Her grey glove is stared with gold.
She cork-screws like a gypsy
she comes to die of love at your door
near the crock where they place the walking-sticks.
Let's say that she died of diabetes
died of the heavy perfume which bowed her neck.
Oh! The honest creature! So chaste and hardly mad!
Less gourmet than greedy she was of
heavy blood
Doctor in letters and in charge of classes
it was in top hat that one courted
now, one could only have had her by the hussar
Malvina! O phantom, may God keep you!

The blind lady

The blind lady whose eyes bleed chooses
her words
she speaks to nobody of her pains

she has hair like moss
she wears jewels and russet gems

the fat and blind lady whose eyes
writes polite letters with margins and
inter-line spaces

she takes care of the pleats in her plush
and forces herself to do something more

and if I don't mention her brother-in-law
it is because that young man is not in
favour here

for he gets drunk and makes the blind one get drunk
who laughs, who laughs then and bellows.


Crippled repairer of old cars,
the hermit has alas returned to his nest,
by my beard I am too much an old man for Paris,
the angle of your houses sticks into
my ankles.
My checkered waistcoat has, they say, Etruscan looks
and my chestnut hat goes badly with
my togs.
Warning! This is a notice-board they fixed on
my door.
In this dwelling all smells of the skin of dead

© translated by Christopher Goldsack

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