by Michel Veber (1896 - 1965), as Nino
Translation © by Laura Prichard

L'orgue de barbarie
Language: French (Français) 
Available translation(s): ENG
C'est un vieil orgu' de barbarie 
En acajou tout vermoulu, 
Il a subi tant d'avaries 
La tant moulu, tant remoulu, 
Qu'a chaque tour de manivelle 
On a le trac qu'il se détraque 
Au milieu de sa ritournelle. 
"Il commence à perdre sa mémoire" 
Se plaint l'aveugle à barbe noire, 
Et sur le coffre un singe rit 
A chaque note qu'il oublie. 
C'est un vieil orgu' de barbarie 
Qu'à tant moulu, tant remoulu, 
Qu'à tant moulu qu'il n'en peut plus.


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • ENG English (Laura Prichard) , "The barrel organ", copyright © 2016, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Researcher for this text: Emily Ezust [Administrator]

This text was added to the website between May 1995 and September 2003.
Line count: 14
Word count: 79

The barrel organ
Language: English  after the French (Français) 
There’s an old barrel organ
Made of mahogany, totally rotted, 
It has suffered so much damage,
Has ground so much, ground down so much, 
That at each turn of the handle 
One fears it may go off its track 
In the middle of its refrain. 
“It’s beginning to loose its memory,” 
Complains the blind man with the black beard, 
And on top of the organ box, a monkey laughs 
At each note [the organ] forgets. 
It’s an old barrel organ
Which has ground so much, ground down so much, 
Which has ground so much that it just can’t go on.


  • Translation from French (Français) to English copyright © 2016 by Laura Prichard, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.

Based on


This text was added to the website: 2016-04-14
Line count: 14
Word count: 100