(1) Brassens did not intend his petition to be buried on the beach too seriously. He once said he was only having fun with the idea. The tone of the poem verifies it.
(2) Five lines of each verse use the 12 syllable “alexandrine” of French Classical poetry.
(3) “Semé des fleurs” –The dictionary says that “semer des fleurs sur la tombe de quelqu’un” means to turn someone’s memory into a cult. “The Grim Reaper”, the English personification of death, is depicted with a dead skull with empty sockets for the nose and eyes. In French the personification of death is called” La Camarde” for this same reason. Camard is an adjective which means pug-nosed, having a flat nose, as if crushed –like the nose of an old-time boxer.
(4) “Cerné de près par les enterrements »- "Supplique pour être enterré à la plage de Sète" was written in 1966. In the previous year, Brassens lost his father on the 28th March.
(5) “Gavroche - Mimi Pinson”. Gavroche is a cheeky, rebellious young street urchin in the novel, “Les Misérables” by Victor Hugo. Mimi Pinson is a character in a work called “Mimi Pinson, profil de grisette" by the famous French poet, Alfred de Musset. A “grisette” is a young, easy-going, working class girl. Both of these fictitious characters liked to express themselves in song. With such company Brassens’ soul would be in heaven.
(6) “Paris-Méditerranée”: A train for holiday destinations.
(7) “Il est plein comme un œuf” : Brassens says the tomb was full as an egg.
(8) “Place aux jeunes”. Perhaps this incongruous remark in the society of the dead can be interpreted as a disdainful Brassens’ reference to the call made to the older performers with the advent of the teenage pop groups of the 1960s.
(9) “Les dauphins “: This was the name given to the swimming club at Sète when Brassens was a boy.
(10) La “Plage de la Corniche” is a very popular beach at Sète.
(11) The picture of life on a happy, boozy ship, with the odd nautical crisis, is reminiscent of Brassens’ memories of boating with his mates in “Les copains d’abord”.
(12) “Chacun sa bonbonne et courage!” Although the captain may make pretence of being in complete control, when the boat is sinking, all he can say in the end is "bon courage" =”hope for the best”.
(13) Paul Valéry (1871-1945) was a famous poet, critic and essayist. “Cimetière Marin” was the title of one of his most famous poems. He was born in Sète and buried there in the “Cimetière St Charles”. In the following year, 1946, the dignitaries changed its name to the “Cimetière Marin” in homage to him.
(14) “Autochtones » These are the important men of the town, who had decreed that Valéry’s graveyard was the “Cimetière marin”. Brassens, the outsider, certainly did not identify with them.
(15) “Le mistral et la tramontane” :These are two winds that blow over the South of France. One seems to come from the West, the other from the East.
(16) “Villanelle and tarantella - sardane and fandango”. This is the music of song and dance, blown in from opposite directions from Italy and Spain.
(17) Like for most of the Brassens songs at this site, these notes are borrowed from David Yendley's blog (http://dbarf.blogspot.fr/2012/05/alphabetical-list-of-my-brassens-songs.html).
This singable translation is based on his prose translation.
(18) Comme pour la plupart des chansons de Brassens sur ce site, ces notes sont tirées du blog de David Yendley (http://dbarf.blogspot.fr/2011/01/).
La traduction chantable anglaise est basée sur sa traduction en prose.