marcel barang

Who by fire

In English, French on 11/04/2010 at 1:06 am


In the past day, here in Bangkok, almost under our TV eyes, a dozen people lost their lives to the political niceties of the times. Nothing much compared to daily traffic collateral nationwide, come to think of it, except that two of the corpses were stolen from the hospitals to be dragged on stage wrapped in tricolour cloth and proclaimed ‘democracy heroes’ by their siblings to foster further ire and thus further losses in this mindless, trumped-up struggle. This reminded me of a Leonard Cohen’s song of 1974. Here it is.

Who by Fire

Qui par le feu ?

And who by fire, who by water,
who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
who in your merry merry month of May,
who by very slow decay,
and who shall I say is calling?

Et qui par le feu ? Qui par l’eau ?
Qui au grand soleil ? Qui dans la nuit ?
Qui par ordalie ? Qui par simple procès ?
Qui en ton joli, joli mois de mai ?
Qui par très lente déchéance ?
Et qui dois-je annoncer ?

And who in her lonely slip, who by barbiturate,
who in these realms of love, who by something blunt,
and who by avalanche, who by powder,
who for his greed, who for his hunger,
and who shall I say is calling?

Et qui dans sa fuite solitaire ? Qui par les barbituriques ?
Qui dans ces royaumes de l’amour ?
Qui par quelque chose d’émoussé ?
Et qui par une avalanche ? Qui par la poudre ?
Qui pour son avidité ? Qui pour sa faim ?
Et qui dois-je annoncer ?

And who by brave assent, who by accident,
who in solitude, who in this mirror,
who by his lady’s command, who by his own hand,
who in mortal chains, who in power,
and who shall I say is calling?

Et qui par courageux accord ? Qui par accident ?
Qui en sa solitude ? Qui en ce miroir ?
Qui sur l’ordre de sa mie ? Qui de sa propre main ?
Qui en des chaînes mortelles ? Qui au pouvoir ?
Et qui dois-je annoncer ?

There’s something missing to this song, though, seen from Bangkok thirty-six years later. It goes sort of like this:

And who by M-79, who by a knock on the head,
who by an angry bullet, who out of bravado,
who in the throes of old age, who in infancy,
who by his master’s command, who by accident,
and who shall I say is calling
long-distance from Dubai?

Et qui par M-79 ? Qui par un coup sur la tête ?
Qui par balle en colère ? Qui par pure bravade ?
Qui dans l’agonie du vieil âge ? Qui en sa prime enfance ?
Et qui dois-je annoncer
qui appelle depuis Dubaï ?

Sorry : couldn’t resist.


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