2

From Brel's « Les remparts de Varsovie » :

Madame promène son cul sur les remparts de Varsovie
Madame promène son cœur sur les ringards de sa folie
Madame promène son ombre sur les grand-places de l'Italie
Je trouve que Madame vit sa vie

Mostly interpretable. But for the second line:

(1) How do you understand « les ringards » ? It would seem to mean those who are old-fashioned. My take on the promèn-ing of her heart on them is that she's just seeing the sights of love, flirting without the intention of commitment. So what does old-fashioned-ness have to do with that? Maybe they're the small-timers? Those who, not being part of the "in crowd", matter little in the long run?

(2) How do you parse « de sa folie » ? I take it as something like « coup de folie », i.e. she does these actions on a whim, in a flight of fancy. But I can also see it syntactically attaching to « les ringards », perhaps meaning « qu'elle a choisi dans sa folie ».

3
  • Un ringard c'est aussi une barre de fer... mais je n'irai pas non plus de ce côté là. On est dans la poésie et parfois il ne faut pas chercher trop loin. C'est le genre de cas où je dirais que toute interprétation est personnelle et subjective et il aurait fallu demander à l'auteur ! Quite interesting to see how all the translations of the song into English differ, most just skip the problem, one makes a real effort to try and make sense !
    – None
    Sep 17, 2023 at 15:30
  • Vu le contexte, la « Folle du cul » a des ‘nostalgies’ sur les piètres amours passées.
    – Personne
    Sep 17, 2023 at 16:18
  • 1
    En fait, c'est assez transparent: les ringards de sa folie sont juste les pauvres types avec lesquels, dans sa "folie" elle a des relations.
    – Frank
    Sep 18, 2023 at 16:39

1 Answer 1

1

The song is obviously directed at someone Brel knew or is a collage of extravagances in women he knew. But the poetic, rythm-dictated verses and number of double-entendres make it difficult to tell the exact meaning without knowing the historical details of their relationship - and even more challenging to translate.

The intended meaning of ringard here is most likely:

(Personne) incapable, médiocre

https://www.cnrtl.fr/definition/ringard B.1.a)

An attempt at translating the verse could be something like

"Madame fancies their dorky sycophancy"

"Madame runs her heart over the fools of her mad court"

"Madame lets her heart loose among the buffoons of her farce"

1
  • 2
    En fait, c'est assez transparent: les ringards de sa folie sont just les pauvres types avec lesquels, dans sa "folie" elle a des relations.
    – Frank
    Sep 18, 2023 at 16:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.