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Cairns - Green Island. Photography by Kevin Tang 1975-2007

Cairns – Green Island. Photography by Kevin Tang 1975-2007.

I’m dreaming of the South of France in this cold wintry Melbourne weather. September can’t come soon enough for me as I try to savour my last day of leisure before I start full-time work again tomorrow. When I was growing up, my uncle used to take our entire family to the beach during our school holidays. He worked for a big international shipping company and one of the perks of the job was use of the company’s beach house which came complete with personal chef and household staff. We would swim all day, enjoying the warmth of the sun. Lazy afternoons were spent lying in hammocks by the beach, the sea breeze drifting through as we watched the sun set. At night, I would lie in bed, listening to the sound of waves crashing upon the shore, before the gentle rhythm lulled me to sleep. Those were golden days of my childhood and I’ve always loved the sea. So I’m looking forward to visiting la Côte d’Azur with our upcoming trip. I think Charles Trenet captured the essence of my childhood memory very well with his song ‘La Mer’. I’ve loved this song for a long time, long before I understood a single word of the lyrics.

Trenet wrote this song while on a train in 1943, travelling from Paris to Narbonne. According to popular belief, he wrote the lyrics on toilet paper supplied by the SNCF. The English version ‘Beyond the Sea’ in actual fact, has only borrowed the tune from ‘La Mer’ as the lyrics are totally different to the French lyrics in both intent and meaning. I have attempted an English translation. As usual, it is not a word for word translation as they always turn out sounding bizzare. I have tried to convey the feeling and meaning of the song. I hope it is a worthy attempt, at least.

La mer
Qu´on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
A des reflets d´argent
La mer
Des reflets changeants
Sous la pluie

La mer
Au ciel d´été confond ses blancs moutons
Avec les anges si purs
La mer
Bergère d´azur

Près des étangs
Ces grands roseaux mouillés
Ces oiseaux blancs
Et ces maisons rouillées

La mer
Les a bercés
Le long des golfes clairs
Et d´une chanson d´amour
La mer
A bercé mon cœur pour la vie

My English translation:
The sea
That you see dancing along the clear gulfs
Has silver reflections
The sea
The changing reflections
Beneath the rain

The sea
In the summer sky one mistakes the white sheep
For angels so pure
The sea
Sheperdess of the infinite

Come see
Near the ponds
These tall wet reeds
Come see
These white birds
And these rusted houses

The sea
The rolling waves
Along the clear gulfs
And with a song of love
The sea
Has nourished my heart for life