Johan Galtung Sings “Le Déserteur” (Music Video of the Week)

Music Video of the Week, 23 October 2017

Posted by Antonio C. S. Rosa | Editor - TRANSCEND Media Service

Prof. Johan Vincent Galtung performing the famous anti-militaristic ode: Le Déserteur composed by Boris Vian in 1954. The exquisite artwork is by Xiaonan.

Galtung was jailed for six months at age 24 for refusing military service as a conscientious objector, unlawful at the time in Norway. This event would set in motion a lifetime of groundbreaking peace work (167 books written in 60 years, +++).


Transcript and translation to English, verse by verse, by Harold Berg:
Le Déserteur – The Deserter

Monsieur le Président,
je vous fais une lettre,
que vous lirez peut-être,
si vous avez le temps.

Mr. President
I’m writing you a letter
that perhaps you will read
If you have the time.

Je viens de recevoir
mes papiers militaires
pour partir à la guerre
avant mercredi soir.

I’ve just received
my call-up papers
to leave for the front
Before Wednesday night.

Monsieur le Président
je ne veux pas le faire,
je ne suis pas sur terre
pour tuer de pauvres gens.

Mr. President
I do not want to go
I am not on this earth
to kill wretched people.

C’est pas pour vous fâcher,
il faut que je vous dise,
ma décision est prise,
je m’en vais déserter.

It’s not to make you mad
I must tell you
my decision is made
I am going to desert.

Depuis que je suis né,
j’ai vu mourir mon père,
j’ai vu partir mes frères,
et pleurer mes enfants.

Since I was born
I have seen my father die
I have seen my brothers leave
and my children cry.

Ma mère a tant souffert,
qu’elle est dedans sa tombe,
et se moque des bombes,
et se moque des vers.

My mother has suffered so,
that she is in her grave
and she laughs at the bombs
and she laughs at the worms.

Quand j’étais prisonnier
on m’a volé ma femme,
on m’a volé mon âme,
et tout mon cher passé.

When I was a prisoner
they stole my wife
they stole my soul
and all my dear past.

Demain de bon matin,
je fermerai ma porte
au nez des années mortes
j’irai sur les chemins.

Early tomorrow morning
I will shut my door
on these dead years
I will take to the road.

Je mendierai ma vie,
sur les routes de France,
de Bretagne en Provence,
et je crierai aux gens:

I will beg my way along
on the roads of France
from Brittany to Provence
and I will cry out to the people:

refusez d’obéir,
refusez de la faire,
n’allez pas à la guerre,
refusez de partir.

Refuse to obey
refuse to do it
don’t go to war
refuse to go.

 S’il faut donner son sang,
allez donner le vôtre,
vous êtes bon apôtre,
monsieur le Président.

If blood must be given
go give your own
you are a good apostle
Mr. President.

Si vous me poursuivez
prévenez vos gendarmes
que je n’aurai pas d’armes
et qu’ils pourront tirer.

If you go after me
warn your police
that I’ll be unarmed
and that they can shoot.

 

This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 23 October 2017.

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One Response to “Johan Galtung Sings “Le Déserteur” (Music Video of the Week)”

  1. rosemerry says:

    A heartfelt thanks. If more were like Johan (and Boris Vian!) what a world it would be!
    I live in France, and mourn the memory of Libya, helped to destruction by Pres. Sarkozy, and the present “centrist” Pres Micron (sic!) who is doing his best to destroy the fights of workers and has already managed to arrange huge extra tax cuts to the very rich by removing the wealth tax which only applied at the very top income level.

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