Very sad poem by Paul Maertens about a child he came to know from his medical practice. The mother was unmarried and ashamed and tried to ignore the child as if it were a reproach to her, the child became autistic and unable to react to others.
This setting for alto voice, cello and guitar reflect the mood of the poem in all its sadness.
The video is a performance by the composer with Chris Benson on cello.
(The guitar’s 6th string is tuned to D – much use is made of 12th and 19th (or 7th if preferred) fret harmonics)
It is sung in French on the video, but, for convenience, I am providing an English translation below (not for performance purposes).
Ta Maman, p’tit gars, ne te désirait pas.Maintenant tu ouvres les robinets, et vois l’eau couler sans vouloir la saisir.Ta Maman a nié son attente. Ton Papa n’est pas tien, et ta Maman, de honte, t’a caché dans ses seins. Tu naissais sans qu’on te donne la vie. Tu étais dorloté, car il ne fallait pas qu’on t’entende, mon gars. Ta Maman ne te regardait pas dans les yeux; tes sourires n’ont pas eu de réponse. On ne t’a pas aimé.On t’a interdit la vie. Ta Maman ne pouvait soutenir ce reproche que tes yeux lui lançait; et pour mieux te fuir elle fit de toi cet objet cet oubli, un chien propre et fidèle qu’on lave, qu’on nourrit. Maintenant tu te promènes une auto à la main, sans jouer sans sourire sans parler. Ta Ma man est partie, et tu n’as pas pleuré; tu as laissé ton auto quelque part, et tu ranges les cubes étalés devant toi: toujours dans le même ordre, simplement, sans angoisse, sans bonheur. Tu ne vis pas, p’tit. Réveilletoi, mon gars!
Your mummy, little chap, did not want you. Now you turn on the taps and watch the water flow, but you don’t want to grab it. Your mummy didn’t admit she was expecting. Your daddy isn’t yours and your mummy, out of shame, hid you in her breasts. Your were born but you weren’t given a life. You were rocked to sleep because you weren’t supposed to be heard. Your mummy didn’t look into your eyes, your smiles got no response. Your weren’t loved. You were forbidden to live. Your mummy could not bear the reproach your eyes shot at her, and in order to flee you all the more she made you into this object, this fogotten thing, a clean and faithful dog that you wash and feed. Now you roll your toy car around, without playing or smiling or speaking. Your mummy has gone and you didn’t cry. You’ve left your car somewhere and you arrange the cubes in front of you, always in the same order, simply, without anguish, without happiness. You are not living , little one. Wake up little chap!