In Yves Montand's famous Feuilles Mortes:

Are the dead leaves piled up on the shovel, or in shovelsful?

se ramasser in dictionaries doesn't seem to have this sort of sense at all: have the leaves come a cropper on a shovel, or what?

Also presumably this bit:

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle, 
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi 
Et le vent du nord les emporte 
Dans la nuit froide de l'oubli.

is the song which she used to sing him, and 'qui nous ressemble'

Should we translate that as 'this song is like us', or 'we are like the leaves in this song', or am I missing something?


Se ramasser à la pelle has a double meaning in these famous Jacques Prévert's lyrics.

Literally, the first verse means "dead leaves are collected with a shovel" but figuratively, that also means that there is a very large number of dead leaves.


Loc. adv., fam. À la pelle. En grande quantité. On devait, disait-il, trouver là de l'or à la pelle (Zola, Germinal, 1885, p.1201). Les vendeurs d'orviétan, les discoureurs philosophiques, qui remuaient à la pelle des idées générales, avec le paradis social au bout (Rolland, J.-Chr., Foire, 1908, p.767).

Of course, when referring to abstract things like souvenirs or regrets, only the figurative meaning makes sense.

  • So, "dead leaves pile up in large numbers". Thanks, I didn't realise that a la pelle was itself an idiom. May 11 '18 at 15:13

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle

Can be translated "Dead leaves are picked up by the shovel" that's the meaning of se ramasser.

For the meaning of

C'est une chanson qui nous ressemble

I imagine it is subject to interpretation but IMO he says that their love story reminds him the lyrics of the song. Their love is represented by the leaves.

They were living together and loving eachother but time fly and their love fade away, and in the end, the only things remainings is the memories of this love that is swept away by the winds.

We could say much more of the lyrics but i'm no expert (and I don't have much time now :) )

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