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A Man of Grace / Un Homme de Grâce

man of grace

(The short story)

A Man of Grace (original version sung by Barnadine)
Un Homme de Grâce (sung by Wopelka)
Un Homme de Grâce (sung by Daniel Pompougnac)
Un Homme de Grâce (sung by Barnadine)

(The long story)

In July 2005, I wrote a little tango, with accordion and guitar and slightly disturbing lyrics. It was called 'A Man of Grace', and it went a little bit like this...

Original English version | lyrics

It was suggested to me that it should be sung in French. (Perhaps because the French are accordion-loving and slightly disturbing. I don't know.) My French is small and rusty, but Wopelka, talented musician and native French speaker, generously stepped up to the plate, and soon presented me with an extremely fine translation of 'A Man of Grace'. Even better, he offered to sing it himself.

And here it is, Wopelka singing his own translation of 'Un Homme de Grâce'. Enjoy!

Wopelka's French version | Wopelka's music site

I liked the translation so much that I then rerecorded the song myself in French (apologies for bad pronunciation)...

My French version (Wopelka translation)

Update:

In December 2006, French singer Daniel Pompougnac contacted me asking if he could record his own interpretation of the song. I sent him the instrumental backing, and he responded with a new performance of Wopelka's translation:

Daniel Pompougnac's French version | Daniel's music site

Many thanks to Wopelka and Daniel for breathing new life into this song.


Finally, for those who are, like me, curious about language and translation, here are the English and French lyrics side by side...

A Man of Grace
(original lyrics by Barnadine)

i am a man of taste
please contemplate the art on the wall
the pliant angel chaste
the angel weeping after the fall
the arc of grace enacted in us all

i never saw her face
i never sent her toe in the mail
i try to act with grace
but all the greatest actors must fail
the secret child within us
scatters breadcrumbs on the trail

take a left at the railway station
past the beggars at the old plantation
by the church where grey salvation
smears our sins away

through the alley where the girls are cheapest
cross the river where the water's deepest
there's a place upstream I keep
a secret locked away

every action needs a witness
how the wolf adores the sheep
how the eye defines the act
the fallen angel must be seen to weep

i never saw her face
the silent raven pecks at the trail
i am a man of grace


Un Homme de Grâce
(translated by Wopelka)

Je suis un homme de goût
Sur le mur, observez donc ces tableaux
L'ange virginal et doux
L'ange déchu pleurant son destin
Le jeu de la grâce qui en nous se tient

Sa face en moi s'efface
J'ai gardé tous ses membres intacts
J'veux jouer avec grâce
Mais les meilleurs tombent au dernier acte.
Et l'enfant en nous caché
Sème du pain sur les pavés

Prenez à gauche après la gare
Là où traînent les mendiants hagards
Passez l'église où l'on décrasse
Nos péchés de croix lasse

En bas du sentier où les filles sont légères
Traversez le fleuve où l'eau se fait noire
Sur la rive, cherchez mon histoire
Cachée sous les fougères

Chaque acte réclame son témoin
Comme le loup adore l'agneau
Comme l'oeil invite à faire le jeu
Que l'ange déchu soit vu pour pleurer

Sa face en moi s'efface
Un corbeau mange sur les pavés
Je suis un homme de grâce


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