Puzzled Translator’s Merry Xmas Wishes

Good friend Hamid Tibouchi, that excellent Algerian poet & painter, (see pp 604ff in Poems for the Millennium 4) just sent a lovely Xmas card that started with a very funny/sage quote — for which I’m having trouble finding a perfect translation. Here it is:           __________________________________

 « Puisque le bonheur n’existe pas,
tâchons d’être heureux sans lui. »

Ernst Moerman, 1897-1944
[Écrivain et cinéaste belge]


Translated it will say “Given that happiness doesn’t exist / let’s do our best to be happy without it.” The original works better because there are two French words for happyness/happy: “bonheur” as noun, and “heureux” as adjective. Even if an etymological link exists, the words are different enough on the surface to suggest two unconnected concepts of happiness/being happy while keeping that rhyming bi-vowel “eu” going. I guess I could replace “happy” with what the dictionary gives as synonymes:

cheerful, cheery, merry, joyful, jovial, jolly, jocular, gleeful, carefree, untroubled, delighted, smiling, beaming, grinning, in good spirits, in a good mood, lighthearted, pleased, contented, content, satisfied, gratified, buoyant, radiant, sunny, blithe, joyous, beatific; thrilled, elated, exhilarated, ecstatic, blissful, euphoric, overjoyed, exultant, rapturous, in seventh heaven, on cloud nine, walking on air, jumping for joy, jubilant; chirpy, over the moon, on top of the world, tickled pink, on a high, as happy as a clam; jocund…

Pick whatever you find fitting for the day;  it is my bonheur this morning to play in the happy hunting grounds of word upon word upon word… and so on this occasion I’ll translate Moerman’s quip as:


« Given that happiness doesn’t exist,
let’s do our best to make merry without it. »

Ernst Moerman, 1897-1944
[Écrivain et cinéaste belge]


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1 Response

  1. Poo says:

    Even a devout Existentialist would agree that, though we are but a finger snap in time, it is still possible to have a little fun along the way. So let’s all make a little “merry!” Have a Merry Finger Snap!

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