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Moyshelé Rosencrantz,
Maker of Riddles

a collection of skillfully crafted riddles in the Old English style

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Monday Nov 11, 2013

The Great War of 1914

In honour of World War I armistice day, here's another one of my singable translations of the great french singer-songwriter Georges Brassens: his song for the glory of the Great War of 1914. I'm convinced World War I was one of the greatest stupidities in the history of Europe and mankind, and if it had been prevented, there wouldn't have been either a Nazi Germany or a Soviet Union under the command of little father of the people, Stalin...

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Thursday Sep 05, 2013

Marquise

I previously posted up several of my translations of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens into English, “The Gorilla”, “The Friend Ship”, “The Lousy Reputation”, and “My loves of yore”. I now turn to an example of Brassens putting other people's poetry to music, as he quite often did. The poem in question is the famous Stances à Marquise by Pierre Corneille (1606-1684), written in 1658 when Corneille was in his fifties, to the beautiful, charming actress Marquise-Thérèse de Gorla (1633-1668), also known as Mademoiselle du Parc, a member of Molière's theatre troup. Marquise had refused all of Corneille's advances. In retaliation, he wrote one of his most famous poems. I've included Corneille's original, for those of you who can read French, along with a fairly literal translation, and my singable rendition. It includes several unforgettable lines, which I was unable to translate nearly as well, such as: “On m'a vu ce que vous êtes, vous serez ce que je suis.” In the stanzas which Brassens left out, the poem highlights the importance of the mind over the body, claiming that in 1000 years, people will only remember Marquise to be as beautiful as Corneille chose to describe her.

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Wednesday Jul 03, 2013

Avek di Yunge Yorn

If ever there was a Yiddish song that proved the Jewish people were influenced by Ukranian folk songs, this must be it. The theme is one prevalent in folk songs: "My youth has fled. Oy vey. And I didn't even carpe diem!" The melody is so typical of Eastern European folk songs, that it's almost strange to hear it sung in Yiddish. You'd expect it to be sung by three young Ukranian peasant girls, dressed in beautiful white dresses embroidered with red, blue and yellow patterns, smiling brightly, and singing in perfect harmony with nasal voices (apparently, singing through the nose helped project the sound farther out to the wedding guests in the days preceding amplifiers and microphones). Anyway, here it is, with my best attempt at a nasal folksinger's voice.

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Thursday Jun 06, 2013

My Loves of Yore

I previously posted up three of my translations of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens into English, "The Gorilla", "The Friend Ship", and "The Lousy Reputation". This is a more contemplative song: "My Loves of Yore" (Mes amours d'antan in French). Teenagers have (or at least had, back in my days, uncorrupted by the Internet) a pure, highly idealistic vision of love, and the loves of our teenage years and early twenties are clothed in a romantic glow that doesn't fade with time, even if the object of love has proven entirely unworthy of such idolatry. For, at twenty the heart falls wherever falls the eye.

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Monday Jun 03, 2013

Ale Brider

Another Yiddish song, this one a popular song in Bundist meetings: Ale Brider (All Brothers), based on a poem by Morris Winchevsky (1856-1932). The song was first published in Arberter Fraynd on Aug. 29, 1890. Folklorist A. Litvin notes that the song "was the most popular folksong that was sung in the old country, mostly at Bundist parties...Each time it was sung something was added by each singer extemporaneously."

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Thursday May 30, 2013

The Lousy Reputation

I previously posted up two of my translations of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens into English, "The Gorilla" and "The Friend Ship". Here's another one of my singable translations, this time of the song La Mauvaise Réputation (literally "the bad reputation"), which I translated as The Lousy Reputation. I took some liberty replacing the 14th of July (Bastille Day, or the French National Holiday) with the 4th of July (American Independence Day), but otherwise I managed to stick quite close to the original.

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Monday Mar 25, 2013

Passover melodies

Here is a collection of passover melodies that we sing in our family for the Passover meal, and which you may wish to include in your Seder as well. Over time, I hope to add more melodies, and more details about these melodies, including their origin if I can find it.[Read More]

Tuesday Jan 15, 2013

Eynzam

I've already published one Yiddish song by Itsik Manger (in Yiddish איציק מאַנגער) - based on what is probably his best known poem, Oyfn Veg Shteyt a Boym. This is another recording of one of his songs, "Eynzam", or "Loneliness". Itsik was a bit a vagabond and probably a heavy drinker. While his poetry is highly popular in style, there is something about him that makes me think he really was quite lonely in life, despite (or maybe because of) his success. [Read More]

Friday Dec 14, 2012

The Friend Ship

I previously posted up "The Gorilla" one of my very first translations of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens into English. Here's another one of my translations, of the song Les Copains d'abord (literally "the friends on board"), which I translated as The Friend Ship. Brassens wrote the song for the movie Les copains (1964). Needless to say, the song is about friendship, and about a boat with the same name as the song title.

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Sunday Dec 02, 2012

Oyfn veg shteyt a boym

In a previous entry, I published a sample of my translations of Brassens into English. This time, I'll pubish a sample of another type of music that I love singing: Yiddish song. Itsik Manger (in Yiddish איציק מאַנגער) was a 20th century Yiddish poet with a very popular style.

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Tuesday Nov 27, 2012

The Gorilla

I began translating the songs of the great French singer-songwriter, Georges Brassens, about 15 years ago. My goal was to write singable translations, that nevertheless capture the spirit of the original, and keep as close as possible to its content. Here's one of my very first translations of Brassens into English - "The Gorilla".

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