Vague Souvenir – Érosion Du Temps

Correcting the text in French has been very difficult… You need to understand that in French, while words are pronounced the very same way, they change in their spelling depending of what other words they are related to. And with short sentences without a verb, with almost no punctuation at all, every option could have been good. I could have read the same text and gotten 3 totally different meanings with no problem. Countless times I asked Alex “to what word is this one related?”, “this word goes with this one, or this one, or perhaps this other one?”, “is it you as the author who’s saying this, or is it the character from the text?”, “what is the general idea behind this line or sentence?”. After the first reading, when came the time to correct, my document was filled with red, orange, green and bold characters, all marking questions I had. There was only a very few black words remaining, to Alex’s dismay. He never liked explaining his text and their meanings… But he had no choice.

It is only when we were recording the vocals for the 4 poems of the album that I knew I would also have to translate them. I am used to translating Alex’s texts, however, I had never translated poems before, nor lyrics. His blogs are always overwhelmingly poetic, but somehow, dramatically long sentences seemed easier to translate. You can change and twist the words in the sentences, split a sentence in two, and you remain with the same idea, the same meaning. However, with short sentences, sometimes without a verb, sometimes with words that are related to those 4 lines above looked dreadfully hard to translate. I pushed it away as long as I could. I knew it would be hard. Too hard. And on this English translation depended the Japanese and German one as well. It needed to be perfect. Not to mention, I usually translate from English to French. This time was the other way around, something I had done only once before, for a blog he had written… 

I surprisingly really enjoyed doing the translation of the poems. I think I was the first one to be surprised about it. I was expecting to feel relieved to have finished the first one, then to want to put everything aside for a few days before starting another one. But it was far from that. Tough I still had a lot of questions and hesitations about the words I chose and the phrasing I used, I was excited and looking forward to translating the second one, which I did right away. Then followed the third one. The hardest one to translate. The one that had me looking up almost every word that was written, in the dictionary. That made me dig and dig for synonyms. That made me hesitate on every word. My document was marked with red notes and different options in brackets, leaving me with almost 2 completely different versions of the same text…

And doing this gave me a complete different understanding of the poems themselves, somehow made me feel closer to them, as if they had become mine in a completely different way…


Here is the English translation of the lyrics:

Erosion Of Time

Through the carcasses of my illusions, cheated a hundred times, I am both judge and cruel party. Kneeled down, I lie to the height of man, sometimes praying with covered words, praises of low-key colors without a soul, my senses doubt and my heart fears, turned viper without being snake.
I drowned in shallow waters, giving myself no markers, a being of flesh against the tide. I loved a woman who was my muse, whore of silk and glass figurine. Lies are not always wearing the array of the night that we see or would love to see. As we close our eyes on an invert world, honesty is only true in the affective symmetry we engage in it. Prose, though, cannot lie by its form and discourse, it is only administrative of emotions wilted by our dreams and delusions. Distorted by the defiled feet carrying it and by the golden band encircling it, love is a dead dog that disappears with the allegory of the faith we feed every day, leaving room to the desire of an escape without a beginning and to the assumed craving of hurting… hurting oneself, rather than his own.

Though I walked through the blossoming olive trees and knew moments of profound sighs, the seal of sorrow, once broken, can only bring forth the traces we sometimes leave on the ground after losing ourselves under the burning sun of a passion with no exit and no coming back. Like to a brother to whom we hide the birth of his kids, to a father that dies from an enemy without decency and remorse, hope is an extra in the court of people with no story, no tomorrow. Alone, facing the stone carved with the name he offered me on the very first day, we remain, however, forever strangers, united by blood and by the finality of things. I am no son, no brother…

Is it the pain that wants itself to be so sharp or the verb drunk by the pitfalls of a faceless hopelessness that makes me spit directly in the face of these souvenirs scattered with colors that I have rejected so many times and when allowed to pour out, fails me so painfully… yet again? Heatless morning comes, and I question myself to know what is really left, be it the regret of the fragrance of the day, and this courteous erosion of time…

Comments (4)

  • Elizabeth


    as I read your blog i am even more aware that translation is an art of the heart more than a process of the mind, especially in the communication of YFE’s messages to the world – thank you Stephanie and everyone who undertakes the challenge to reveal this light to others who do not speak the original language of the text!! Truly a gift to us all <3


  • Chris


    Erosion Of Time is a very complex text, I agree that working on it must have been very challenging because you definitely don’t want to take anything away from such intimate words…
    Somehow, I guess that only the author or someone very close can do this since the words need to refer to the very right emotion related to them…


  • Anna


    Thank you so much for your dedication Stephanie! I know it must be very hard work correcting and translating these texts! But at the same time you’re the only who can do this. The connection that you have with Alex is so strong that you can truly understand what he wants to portray through his lyrics! And it’s amazing that you take the time to translate this because you know the impact it can have and that lives can be transformed through these words! It’s truly amazing all that you do!


  • mary


    Even though I am used to hearing the words in French supported by the melody, as I am reading this text in English, I can still hear Alex’s voice, with his tone, reading his own words…
    Thank you for the translation that has been so well done. I can imagine the challenge that it has been… another great step that has confirmed that you’re capable of more than you can imagine.


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