Les chansons - Songs


first page of the notebook

The French prisoners are underfed and idle. To spend time, they sing. Do they know by heart the songs which they recopy on their books, or some of them could have saved in their personal things the texts of the songs?
Indeed, people sing much at the beginning of the 20th century. In the country, the evenings passed to peel or shell are long, then people sing. The means of displacement from a village to another are slow, then people sing. In the family celebrations, there are not always the means of calling upon an orchestra, then people sing. And in the army, to give courage and to feel all of the same country, eh well soldiers sing!
I am impressed by the quantity of songs that captive Elie could copy in its notebooks. The songs are very diverse.
There are military songs. "Le Rêve" (The Dream) is with the glory of Napoleon: “The soldiers, are deadened over there in the plain…”. Others evoke the Great War, already in their title: "Ce que chantent les flots de la Marne" (What the floods of the Marne sing), "Qui a gagné la guerre" (Who gained the war), "Fleur de tranchée" (Flower of trench), "La Madelon de la victoire" (Madelon of the victory), "Dans les fossés de Vincennes" (In the ditches of Vincennes), "Thérèse ma petite Française" (Thérèse my little Frenchwoman), "La lettre" (the letter), "Les petites femmes des mobilisés" (the little women of mobilized).
There are romantic songs. "Cœur de mère" (Heart of mother), "La chanson des blés d’or" (the song of golden corns), "L’âme des violons" (the heart of the violins), "Femmes que vous êtes jolies" (Women how pretty you are), "Ma petite fauvette" (My little warbler)… Others are like a warning: "Le train fatal" (The fatal train), "Je serai là" (I will be there), "Ne rendez pas les hommes fous" (do not make the men insane). No, love is not simple. A long absence can involve nasty surprises for those who left a little of their heart to their country. The loved woman often lets herself allure by a closer man, more present. For the soldiers whose heart is to be taken on the place of their exile, exoticism can conceal traps. A man can seriously wound who he loves, or fall into the claws of a prostitute whose love requires wages! "La petite Etrangère" (The little Foreign one), "Cœur de gitane" (Heart of gipsy), "Youyou la japonaise" (Dinghy the Japanese woman), “Signorina”. And attention with the consequences: "Le petit Loupiot" (The small Kid) who will be born without father will he be able to grow and to be happy? Oh! what a sad istory! Of course, there are songs which evoke France, the songs in vogue at the time: "Le ballon rouge" (The red balloon), "Le temps des cerises" (the season of cherries), " Le fou de Notre Dame" (the insane one of Notre Dame), " Tout autour des Halles" (All around the Markets)…
And then there are epic songs which evoke the Campaign of Cilicie. The words are written by the little officers of the camp.

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