5: "J'attends un Navire" (1934)
from Marie Galante

text by Jacques Deval

  • French
  • English

Original Text

Beautiful girl! Bella Francesa!
Deux dollars ! Tu seras content.
Entre chez moi! Mets-toi à l'aise!
Prends-moi, paye-moi et va-t'e!
Pars, ce n'est pas toi que j'attends.


J'attends un navire qui viendra
Et pour le conduire, ce navire a
Le vent de mon coeur qui soupire
L'eau de mes pleurs le portera
Et si la mer veut le détruire
Ce navire qui viendra
Je le porterai, ce navire
Jusqu'à Bordeaux entre mes bras !

Là-bas on m'appelait Marie
Et les garçons au coin des champs
Me chatouillaient pour que je rie
Et que je cède en me battant.
Mais toi pour qui je suis "Chérie"
Prends-moi, paye-moi, et va-t'en!


Deux dollars!
Chacun qui me prend.
Est un marin de mon navire.
Chaque tourment
Est une voile à mon navire
Mon coeur saignant
Est le drapeau de mon navire
De ce navire, mon amant!


Text by Roger Fernay


Beautiful girl! Bella Francesa!
Two dollars! You'll be happy.
Come home with me. Make yourself comfortable
Take me! Pay me! And leave.
Go! It's not you I'm waiting for.


I'm waiting for a ship to come,
and to steer it, this boat has
the wind of my sighing heart,
and the water of my tears will carry it;
and if the sea wishes to destroy it,
this ship which is coming,
I'll take this ship
as far as Bordeaux in my arms!

There they used to call me Marie
and the boys, at the corners of the fields,
used to tickle me to make me laugh,
and to make me submit struggling.
But you, for whom I am "darling",
Take me! Pay me! And leave.


Two dollars!
Everyone who takes me
is a sailor on my ship.
Torture me, every torment
is a sail for my ship.
Est une voile à mon navire
Beat me!
My bleeding heart
Is the flag of my ship,
This ship, my lover!


Translation by James Benjamin Rodgers

Waiting for a Ship

In 1934, Weill was offered the opportunity to work with another leading literary figure of the day Jacques Deval. Deval who was having considerable success, approached Weill to compose songs for a dramatization of his novel Marie Galante. Weill accepted, and though juggling numerous projects at the time, he quickly completed the score. In doing so he drew heavily from the French cabaret tradition. Perhaps more than any other score, Marie Galante emphasizes: “Weill’s remarkable ability to absorb, with his musical sensitivity, the very essence of a foreign musical sphere and let it flow into his own compositions.” The story tells of a French peasant girl who is abandoned by her lover in Panama. Trying to earn enough to get home, she is forced into prostitution, ultimately raising the money she needs. However, in a cruel twist of fate, she dies before making the final journey. Though the show closed after only three weeks, Weill’s music was well received and songs from it, recorded by one of Paris’ famed singers of the day Lys Gauty, became popular hits in France.

“J’attends un Navire” hauntingly expresses Marie’s optimism that a ship will one day take her to her homeland. Weill captures the essence of this text so vividly that one may draw the conclusion that he did in fact fantasize about a final return home. Emphasizing the song's poignancy, ten years after its composition, “J’attends un Navire” became an anthem for the French resistance as they fought for the liberation of their war torn nation.

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