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Timid Frieda -- Jacques Brel

Guest poem submitted by Stephen Pecha:
(Poem #1529) Timid Frieda
 Timid Frieda
 Will they greet her
 On the street where
 Young strangers travel
 On magic carpets
 Floating lightly
 In beaded caravans
 Who can know if
 They will free her
 On the street where
 She comes to join them
    There she goes
    With her valises
    Held so tightly in her hands

 Timid Frieda
 Will life seize her
 On the street where
 The new dreams gather
 Like fearless robins
 Joined together
 In high-flying bands
 She feels taller
 Troubles smaller
 On the street where
 She's lost in wonder
    There she goes
    With her valises
    Held so tightly in her hands

 Timid Frieda
 Won't return now
 To the home where
 They do not need her
 But always feed her
 Little lessons
 And platitudes from cans
 She is free now
 She will be now
 On the street where
 The beat's electric
    There she goes
    With her valises
    Held so tightly in her hands

 Timid Frieda
 Who will lead her
 On the street where
 The cops all perish
 For they can't break her
 And she can take her
 Brave new fuck you stand
 Yet she's frightened
 Her senses heightened
 On the street where
 The darkness brightens
    There she goes
    With her valises
    Held so tightly in her hands

 Timid Frieda
 If you see her
 On the street where
 The future gathers
 Just let her be her
 Let her play in
 The broken times of sand
 There she goes now
 Down the sidewalk
 On the street where
 The world is bursting
    There she goes
    With her valises
    Held so tightly in her hands
-- Jacques Brel
A few weeks ago you ran a poem about growing up, which made me think of
"Timid Frieda" by the French song writer Jacques Brel.  Song lyrics, I know,
don't sound so well if you don't know the music, but I still think this
holds up as poetry.  I first heard this when I was in high school.  My
Language Club had taken a field trip to New York City, it was 1968, and we
went to Greenwich Village.  The hippie movement was in full swing, and it
was incredible fun to buy black-light posters and other similar things, and
just to be in the Village. There, at the Village Gate, we heard the revue
"Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris."  I purchased the album
when I was in college, and enjoyed it a lot over the years.

"Timid Frieda" always seemed to me to capture the tentative nature of
leaving your parents' home and going out into the world, with timid courage.
In the heady counterculture days of the late sixties, the lines about being
"on the street where the beat's electric"  and the "brave new f*** you
stand" were strong stuff.  If you know the music, you also realize the the
slow 3/4 time sounds a little wistful, as if the singers are pitying Frieda
and the mistakes she's bound to make, which they know they must let her
make.  In growing up, we all go out there, with our valises held so tightly
in our hands.  There are a few websites where you can look up more of
Jacques Brel's lyrics, and they make interesting reading.

Stephen Pecha.

40 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Dean706 said...

I'm a great fan of Brel. However, I'm pretty sure that he did not write the
lyrics as given in "Timid Frieda": rather, he wrote the tune and lyrics for a
song called Les Timides, which was then translated and reworked/rephrased
extensively, probably by Mort Schuman, one of the guys responsible for Jacques
Brel is Alive and Well. I'm not in a position to verify this right now, but the
circumstantial case is pretty strong.

Dean Niles

Al said...

Despite the fact that Jacques Brel may have been alive and living in Paris
to support the tile of a play with a similar name, he was Belgian. He
worked in the French language, as opposed to the Flemish language; but, that
is not the same as being a "French song writer" which sort of connotes a
nationality.

Cheers

Al McGrandel

Al McGrandel said...

Despite the fact that Jacques Brel may have been alive and living in Paris
to support the tile of a play with a similar name, he was Belgian. He
worked in the French language, as opposed to the Flemish language; but, that
is not the same as being a "French song writer" which sort of connotes a
nationality.

Cheers

Al McGrandel

BasRaphael said...

Dear Mr. Pecha,

We must be of an age, for I remember the self-same Village and Brel
experience. I LOVED THIS PIECE.

Thank you,
Laura S-C

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