Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jacques Brel on Love And War

Brel If we only have love
Jacques Brel- Quand on n'a que l'amour
( If we only have love )

" If we only have love
We can melt all the guns
And then give the new world
To our daughters and sons
If we only have love
Then Jerusalem stands
And then death has no shadow
There are no foreign lands
If we only have love "

From Daily Motion Videos Belgium


Anonymous said...

Brel doesn't actually say any of this. True, there is a line which mentions guns, 'quand on n'a que l'amour, pour parler aux canons...', but there is no comment on war as such. Rather, the essence of the song is how love, specifically romantic love, provides strength and solace in an otherwise meagre existence. It is a shame that (one's thoughts also turn to the cheaply effective Shuman/Blau translation of Fils de)English-language translators are so cavalier in discarding the spirit of Brel's songs, choosing to make them their own with windily adolescent and trite, right-on antiwar sentiments that were never ther in the first place. At best, such changes constitute a de facto capitulation in the face of translating Brel's poetry; at worst, it smells suspiciously of arrogance.

Naturally, translation is always difficult with lyrics, given the need to accomodate idiom, rhyme and metre. But if you can't come up with something faithful to the intended sentiment, then don't bother, or write your own song. Don't pass it off as Brel. He wasn't a preacher or peddler of glib political dirges; he was a poet of everyday life. This should not be misrepresented to chime with right-on anglo-saxon sentimentality.

Anonymous said...

I should add that a bit of poetic license is acceptable, but only in so far as it coheres with and compliments the essence of the original version. This is an entirely different song. This is Gordon Coombes, not Jacques Brel, on love and war.