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French Music – Calogero Posted by on Apr 17, 2018 in Culture, Literature, Music

Before becoming a writer, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry had a very different professional life. A new song from the French chanteur (singer) Calogero, celebrates that previous career as well as some of Saint-Exupéry’s most famous works.

While he may be best known outside France for his charming novella Le petit prince (The little prince), Antoine de Saint-Exupéry wrote many other works and even had an entirely different professional life before becoming an author. For many years, Saint-Exupéry worked as a pilot and as an administrator during the early days of airmail service. His novel Vol de nuit (Night flight) was inspired by that experience . . . and this song in turn is inspired by that (and just a bit by Le petit prince).

I’ve hidden the English by making the font blanc (white). You can reveal it by highlighting it with your cursor.
Je transporte des lettres, des rêves dans les étoiles  I carry letters, dreams in the sky (lit. in the stars)
Je suis facteur du ciel pour l’aéropostale  I am a mail carrier for the air mail service
Je regarde le monde depuis mon appareil  I look at the world from my machine
C’est beau comme vu d’ici on a tous l’air pareil  It’s beautiful the way, seen from here, we all look the same
Je rêve dans mon ciel solitaire  I dream in my solitude (lit. lonely sky)
Qu’on soit tous un peu solidaire  That we’re all a little connected
   
Voler de nuit comme St Exupéry  Fly through the night like Saint-Exupéry
Voir le monde d’en haut sans le prendre de haut*  See the world from above without looking down on it
Voler de nuit, voir ce qui nous unis  Flying at night, see what unites us
Sonner l’écho que nous sommes tous égaux  Sound the echo that we’re all equals
   
Vu d’en haut ces frontières, ces lignes qui nous écartent  Seen from up here all these borders, these lines that push us apart
Ne sont que des dessins, que des traits sur la carte  Are nothing but drawings, just lines on the map
Derrière chaque maison, des gens rêvent, des gens s’aiment  Behind each house, people dream, people love
C’est beau comme vu d’avion on a l’air tous les mêmes  It’s beautiful how seen from an airplane we all seem the same
Je pense à ça dans mon ciel si vide  I think about that in my empty sky
En bas éclatent des guerres civiles  While below civil wars rage
   
Voler de nuit comme St Exupéry  Fly through the night like Saint-Exupéry
Voir le monde d’en haut sans le prendre de haut  See the world from above without looking down on it
Voler de nuit, voir ce qui nous unis  Flying at night, see what unites us
Sonner l’écho que les hommes sont égaux  Sound the echo that we’re all equals
   
Si je suis descendu**, je ne regretterai rien  If I’ve come down, I will not have any regrets
J’étais fait pour planter des fleurs dans un jardin  I was made to plant flowers in a garden
Certains soirs il me semble entendre dans le cockpit  Some nights, I seem to hear in the cockpit
Comme une voix d’enfant entre les parasites  What sounds like the sound of a child in the static
Un enfant qui dit s’il vous plaît… A child who says please…
Monsieur, dessine-moi la paix***  Sir, draw me (a picture of) peace
   
(Dessine-moi… la terre)**** (Draw me… the earth)
(Dessine-moi … la terre)  (Draw me… the earth)
   
Voler de nuit comme St Exupéry  Fly through the night like Saint-Exupéry
Voir le monde d’en haut sans le prendre de haut  See the world from above without looking down on it
Voler de nuit, voir ce qui nous unis  Flying at night, see what unites us
Rêver dans l’ombre le réveil du monde  Dream in the dark (lit. the shadow) of the awakening of the world

* I love how this phrasing works so well in both languages. Another way to say ‘to look at something from above‘ can simply be ‘to look down on it (without any value judgement)’. ‘Prendre de haut‘ means ‘to look down on‘ in the negative sense of that phrase (‘to disparage‘, ‘to think less of‘).
** ‘Être descendu‘ can also mean ‘to be shot down’.
*** ‘Dessine-moi un mouton‘ might be one of the most famous lines from Le petit prince. Tune in next week for more on that.
**** I wasn’t quite sure what I was hearing here the first few times I listened to this song so I did a little internet sleuthing. The majority of sites seem to agree on “Dessine-moi la terre”, but a few listed “Dessine-moi la paix.” Calogero says “la paix” but the children… Well, I’ll let you decide. Tell me what you think in the comments!  Either is equally beautiful.

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Photo of Calogero by Guy Delsaut (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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About the Author: Tim Hildreth

Lise: Maybe not always. Paris has ways of making people forget. / Jerry: Paris? No, not this city. It's too real and too beautiful. It never lets you forget anything. It reaches in and opens you wide, and you stay that way. / An American in Paris