‘Avec le temps’ by Leo Ferre

Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
On oublie le visage et l’on oublie la voix
Le coeur, quand ça bat plus, c’est pas la peine d’aller
Chercher plus loin, faut laisser faire et c’est très bien

Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
L’autre qu’on adorait, qu’on cherchait sous la pluie
L’autre qu’on devinait au détour d’un regard
Entre les mots, entre les lignes et sous le fard
D’un serment maquillé qui s’en va faire sa nuit
Avec le temps tout s’évanouit

Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
Même les plus chouettes souvenirs, ça, t’as une de ces gueules
A la gallerie j’farfouille dans les rayons d’la mort
Le samedi soir quand la tendresse s’en va toute seule

Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
L’autre à qui l’on croyait pour un rhume, pour un rien
L’autre à qui l’on donnait du vent et des bijoux
Pour qui l’on eût vendu son âme pour quelques sous
Devant quoi l’on s’traînait comme traînent les chiens
Avec le temps, va, tout va bien

Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
On oublie les passions et l’on oublie les voix
Qui vous disaient tout bas les mots des pauvres gens
Ne rentre pas trop tard, surtout ne prends pas froid
Avec le temps…
Avec le temps, va, tout s’en va
Et l’on se sent blanchi comme un cheval fourbu
Et l’on se sent glacé dans un lit de hasard
Et l’on se sent tout seul peut-être mais peinard
Et l’on se sent floué par les années perdues, alors vraiment
Avec le temps on n’aime plus

These are the lyrics to one of my very favourite French songs, ‘Avec le temps’ (In Time) and for me, it is absolutely poetry. Leo Ferre (1916-1993) was a prominent singer in France from the 50s right up the the 1980s.

This song is about how love can dissipate with time. As time passes, says the song, our love and passion can often wilt and finally die. However, it is the manner in which Ferre sings the song (as I hope you will see if you watch the video below) that I find absolutely hypnotic. His expression is so poetical; you can really feel the import of each word as he sings it (and each word is so loaded). What I love most about this song is near the end when he sings “et on se sent tout seul peut etre, mais PEINARD!” I love the way he cries out — almost shouts — that word, peinard, which means “comfortable” or “hunky dory”. Paradoxically, the singer’s indignation at the death of his passion seems to spark an incredible anger and passion, which he uses to express what has happened.

I just think that this is an incredible song, with wonderfully poetical lyrics. I have tried to translate it below, but I found it a very hard task and am still not happy with it. However, I don’t think that it matters too much; the best thing really is to read the translation to have the meaning, and then listen to the song to really hear the poetry. I hope that you enjoy this as much as I do!

 

My translation

In time …
In time, it goes, everything goes away.
We forget the face and we forget the voice,
The heart, when it stops beating, there’s no point
Searching any further, you must let it go and that’s good.

In time…
In time, it goes, everything goes away.
The Other, who we adored, who we searched for in the rain;
The Other, who we guessed with one look,
Between words, between the lines and beneath the make-up
Of a masked vow, who goes off for the night…
In time, everything vanishes

In time …
In time, it goes, everything goes away,
Even the best memories, the most incredible ones,
In the cheap shops I search the aisles of death,
On Saturday evening, when tenderness disappears.

In time…
In time, it goes, everything goes,
The Other, who we believed for silly reasons,
Tho Other, who we gave nothing and jewels,
For whom we would have sold our soul for a few pennies,
Who we followed around like dogs do,
In time, it goes; everything’s fine.

In time …
In time, it goes, everything goes.
We forget the passions and we forget the voices
Which whispered the words of poor people:
“Don’t stay out too late, and, especially, don’t catch cold.”

In time…
In time, it goes, everything goes away.
And we feel pale and grey like an old horse
And we feel frozen in a bed of chance,
And we feel all alone, perhaps, but comfortable.
And we feel fooled by the lost years

So, really,
In time we don’t love any more.

Reviewed by Emily Ardagh

  • prosborn

    Emily
    It is a sumptious poem in FR, and you were brave to seek to create an EN version.
    IMHO, the only comtemporary FR-EN traduc which ever worked (1955 to 2015) was Amoureuse, by Veronique Sanson, into the EN version by Kiki Dee. Very very different text, same same message.
    Happy to discuss further
    My name is as shown (two initials and a 6-letter surname) and I live in Uithoorn, Netherlands. You’ll find me if you want to.
    Paul

  • Dominique Richard

    Here my version of this song I hope you like it

    In time and with time, everything goes away.

    Everything fades and dies.

    We even forget the face and forget the voice.

    When the heart stop beating.

    It’s not worth to keep on searching any longer.

    We must let it go, and it is fine.

    In time and with time, everything goes away.

    The one we loved, and the one we would have search for anywhere.

    The one we adored, and search for under the rain.

    The one we would have guessed at a glance.

    Between the words, between the lines and beneath the make-up.

    Of a made-up oath that goes off into the night.

    In time and with time, everything vanished.

    In time and with time, everything goes away.

    Even the best of memories has one of those faces.

    In the gallery of clutters and aisle of death.

    In time and with time, everything dies.

    To the one whom we believed in that all things are possible.

    To the one whom we would have sold everything for.

    For whom we would have sold our soul for a few pennies.

    In front of which we would have dragged ourselves like that
    of bitches.

    With time, everything is fine.

    In time and with time, everything goes away.

    We forget the passions, and we forget the voices.

    The words of the poor people whispering:

    Don’t stay out too late, and especially, don’t catch cold.

    In time and with time, everything goes away.

    We may feel worn-out and exhausted by the years.

    And find ourselves frozen in a bed of hazard.

    We may feel alone and ceased to exist.

    And may feel cheated by the lost years.

    Beaten up by the years of aches and pains we become hardened.

    Oh really!

    In time we can no longer love.

  • Dominique Richard

    One of most favorite song so sad but true that with time we can no longer love. The translation cannot be words for words but the symbolic meaning. So I translated with that in mind for Leo Ferre my all time favorite poet. Thanks Emily for bringing this song to light and discussion.