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Translating a French poem into English is like boiling down a strawberry

Hilaire Belloc 

THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

WENT HUNTING FOR A WOODPECKER

THE GREAT SAINT ELOI

SAID TO HIM : O MY KING

THE HUNT FOR A CUCKOO

WOULD BE MUCH BETTER FOR YOU

SAID THE KING : THAT IS TRUE

SO TAKE CARE NOW

THAT WE DON'T HIT YOU.

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THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

HAD A SWORD MADE OF IRON

THE GREAT SAINT ELOI

SAID TO HIM : O MY KING

YOU WELL COULD GET HURT

WALKING AROUND WITH THAT THING

SAID THE KING : CHANGE IT I SHOULD

SO GIVE ME ANOTHER, AND MAKE IT OF WOOD.

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THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

HAD A DOG WITH FLEAS

THE GREAT SAINT ELOI

SAID TO HIM : O MY KING

ABOUT THIS YOU SURELY MUST DO SOMETHING

 

SAID THE KING : CLEAN HIM I WILL

IN THE SEINE COLD AND BLUE

WHERE I'LL DUNK HIM WITH YOU

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THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

HAD AN OLD IRON CHAIR

THE GREAT SAINT ELOI SAID TO THE KING

YOU KNOW I JUST DONT LIKE THAT THING

 

SAID THE KING ME TOO : I DONT LIKE A CURULE

ITS JUST A CAMP STOOL

SO TAKE IT, MY FOOL

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THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

TO ELOIS GAVE A TURKEY

A TURKEY FOR ME - HOW GENEROUS SAID HE

SAID THE KING TAKE IT THEN - TO REMEMBER ME

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THE GOOD KING DAGOBERT

WAS AFRAID OF HIS FATE

HIS HABIT WAS OFTEN TO ASSASSINATE

ELOI, YOU KNOW I ALWAYS DID RIGHT

PLEASE SAY IT WAS YOU WHO DIED TONIGHT

 

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SOME COMMENTS ON THE ORIGINAL POEM:

 

 


Le bon roi Dagobert

A mis sa culotte à l'envers ;

Le grand saint Éloi

Lui dit : Ô mon roi!

Votre Majesté

Est mal culottée.

C'est vrai, lui dit le roi,

Je vais la remettre à l'endroit.

 

GOOD KING DAGOBERT (THE GOOD BECAUSE HE WON WARS) PUTS ON HIS "BREECHES" ( CULOTTE)  BACKWARDS. SAINT ELOI TELLS HIM HIS PANTS ARE "IN REVERSE". DAGOBERT SAYS HE WILL PUT THEM RIGHT. THE CULOTTE IS A SYMBOL OF FRENCH NOBILITY. DURING THE REVOLUTION THE "SANS-CULLOTE" WERE THE POOR WHO HAD ACHIEVED REPRESENTATION. UNABLE TO AFFORD THE FANCY CLOTHES THEY WORE REGULAR PANTS.

 DAGOBERT LIVED FROM 603 - 639. (36 WAS PRETTY GOOD FOR HIS DAYS).  MAL CULOTTEE WOULD HAVE MEANT IMPROPERLY DRESSED IN THE 600'S BUT HERE REMINDS ONE OF  SANS-CULLOTE AND BOTH MEANINGS ARE IMPLIED IN THIS REVOLUTION ERA POEM.

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