Comme tu es source de tous nos biens

July 2, 2012

An attempt to write something in French. No doubt I have made grammatical mistakes; I ask the readers’ pardon in advance.

Comme tu es source de tous nos biens,
O Dieu, dévotement je t’en pris,
Guéri nos âmes, et nous accorde
D’être enfants de ta famille.

Puis-ce que la chair est lourde, Seigneur,
Et contre l’esprit suscite la guerre,
Arrêt ses motions absurdes
Et donne la paix dedans le coeur.

Justement, à cause de nos péchés,
Nous connaissons des maux funestes;
Tourne nos yeux à ton visage;
Puis nous sentions l’espoir celeste.

Et puis-ce que ton Fils a tel souffert,
O Dieu, à cause de notre salut,
Applique ces dons à notre égard;
Seigneur, aie pitié de nous.

7 Responses to “Comme tu es source de tous nos biens”

  1. Michaël de Verteuil Says:

    Comme tu es source de tous nos biens,
    O Dieu, dévotement je t’en pris (prie),
    Guéri(s) nos âmes, et nous accorde (accorde nous)
    D’être enfants de ta famille.

    Puis-ce que la chair est lourde, Seigneur,
    Et contre l’esprit suscite la guerre,
    (The above verse is awkward. In plain reading it suggests “and despite the spirit promotes warfare” which is not what you are trying to say. I could offer alternatives, but as this would scramble the versification…)
    Arrêt(e) ses motions absurdes
    (There are a couple of problems here. Use of the imperative mood is somewhat delicate where God is concerned, particularly with verbs like “arrêter” which are normally addressed to turbulent children. “Mène fin à” or “Fais cesser” would be better, for example. Also “ses” is refering to the third previous substantive which, while not grammatically impossible…)
    Et donne la paix dedans le coeur.
    (“Dedans” can’t be used this way anymore, though you could in medieval French. In modern French, it would just be “dans,” with “dedans” being reserved for when the substantive is understood. I would suggest “au sein du coeur.”)

    Justement, à cause de nos péchés,
    Nous connaissons des maux funestes;
    Tourne nos yeux à (vers) ton visage;
    Puis nous sentions l’espoir celeste.
    (Not sure what you are trying to say here. Literally this verse means “And then we felt the heavenly hope.”)

    Et puis-ce que ton Fils a tel (si) souffert,
    O Dieu, à cause de (this means “because of” not “for the sake of”) notre salut,
    Applique (again a problematic imperative: I would suggest “Accorde”) ces dons (not sure what gifts you are referring to) à notre égard;
    Seigneur, aie pitié de nous.

    You are, of course, forgiven as anyone brave enough to grapple with Molière’s idiom would be, particularly as I routinely make mistakes in English. :-)

  2. bekkos Says:

    Oh well… This is, as Chaucer would say, Frenche of Stratford-atte-Bowe … or rather, of Whippany, New Jersey.

    In extenuation, I did not have a grammar book on hand while writing this; I am away on vacation. Also, the only time I lived in a francophone area was about thirty years ago, when I resided in Geneva for a year (1981-1982) — please don’t ask me what I was doing there. A further problem I experience in attempting to speak French is that, because I taught in Albania for three years during the 1990’s, Albanian has largely displaced whatever French neural connections my brain once possessed, so that attempts at French speech now often emerge from my mouth as strange, unintelligible mixtures of the two languages. At least, in the above poem, I have avoided importing Albanian into my diction.

    My apologies to Molière, Racine, Corneille, and all the rest of that noble company, who are rolling in their graves.

  3. Michaël de Verteuil Says:

    Speaking of which, your observation reminds me of an internet argument I was having with an English speaker over whether the dialectical differences between medieval Norman French (as then used in England) and the French of the Ile de France were as modest as I claimed.

    My interlocutor cited Chaucer’s prioress to argue that the two dialects were mutually incomprehensible:

    And French she spoke full fair and fetisly nicely
    After the school of Stratford at the Bow,
    For French of Paris was to her unknow.

    The standard take on this is that “this is a snigger at the provincial quality of the lady’s French, acquired in a London suburb, not in Paris.” I would go further. The two medieval dialects were so close to each other that the prioress’ purported inability to understand the French of Paris must have meant that she spoke no French whatsoever, despite her airs.

    In any case, your poem is quite a creditable offering from a non native speaker. If I might offer a smidgen of stylistic criticism, perhaps you should aim for stronger rhymes. As French has no internal meter anymore (Romance unstressed syllables having faded under the weight of an exaggerated tonic accent) rhyming is all the more important.

  4. The Moron Says:

    Are the “weak rhymes” intentional, Peter? I rather like them, although they’re not exactly in the classical style the subject matter would suggest.

  5. Joel Says:

    Forgive me for the aside but, if Michael de Verteuil is reading this , can you e-mail me at joel[at]mackayinsurance[dot]com ? Don’t be fooled by the address…I want to talk theology. :)

    Or if you know his e-mail address, Mr. Bekkos, can you forward mine on to him?

    Again, sorry for the interruption.

  6. bekkos Says:

    Joel,

    I’ve forwarded your message to him.

  7. Joel Says:

    Thank you!


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