La Valse Posthume

In this song Carla Bruni is putting words to the beautiful music of Chopin’s Valse Posthume and as she writes, the three time of the waltz becomes symbolic of the three stages of her life: the innocent freedom of her childhood, the wild excesses of her youth, the new stability of maturity.  Her poem states again her sense of going back at this stage of her life to make a new beginning.  But she sees the waltz symbolic not only of her life but of all our lives, each given a brief individual dance which is our right on earth.

YouTube Video


La Valse Posthume

C'est au premier temps de la valse

Que tous les espoirs nous sont permis
Car au premier temps de la valse

Nous sommes tous en Arcadie

Dès le second temps de la valse

La terreur de vivre nous saisit
Car dès le second temps de valse

C'en est fait du paradis.

Alors on va, on vient, on rêve ou l'on croit,


On aime parfois, on paye,  l'on doit
Alors on cherche ou l'on trouve selon les cas Mais la valse est toujours là


C'est au troisième temps de la valse

Que l'on croit enfin savoir danser
Mais au troisième temps de la valse

Nous voilà tout essoufflés


C'est au troisème temps de la valse

Que nos jupes commencent à s'envoler

Mais au troisième temps de la valse

La boucle est bouclée
Alors on ne prend plus rien du bout des doigts, Non tout à pleines mains et on ne lâche pas


Alors soudain on s'agenouille et l'on croit

Il n'est jamais trop tard ma foi
Alors on vit à bout de souffle tout c’qu'on a

On ouvre les yeux on ouvre les bras
Alors on retourne en douce sur ses pas

Et la valse est 1,2,3.


Il n'y a que trois temps dans la valse

Mais ces trois temps-là nous sont acquis
Il n'y a que trois temps dans la valse

C'est bien court mais c'est ainsi
Alors à ces trois temps de valse ce qui ressemblent à ma vie
Je dédie mes erreurs, les soupirs de mon cœur transi

The Posthumous Waltz

It is at the first beat of the waltz

That for us all the hopes are allowed

Because at the first beat of the waltz

We all are in Arcadie


From the second beat of the waltz

We’re seized by the terror of living

For from the second waltz  beat

Paradise is over and done.


Then you come and you go, you dream or you believe,

You love at times, you pay, as you must

And then you seek or you find , it just depends,

But the waltz is always there



It is at the third beat of the waltz

That you think you’ve learned at last to dance

But it’s at the third beat of the waltz

Here we are all out of breath

It is at the third beat of the waltz

That our skirts begin to swirl up high

But it’s at the third beat of the waltz

The buckle clasp snaps closed

From then there’s no nicety in all that you take

No it’s all with both hands and not to let go



Then suddenly you’re on your knees and thinking

It is never too late believe me

Then, you live breathlessly everything that you have

You open your eyes, you open your arms

Then you go quietly back on your steps

And the waltz is 1,2,3.


There are only three beats in the waltz

But these three beats are ours by right

There are only three beats in the waltz

Very short but that’s how it is

So to these three waltz beats that come to resemble my life

I dedicate my gaffes and the sighs of my  heart spellbound.






Vocabulary notes

en Arcadie(1) = In Greek mythology, Arcadia was the home of the god Pan. In European Renaissance art, Arcadia was seen as an unspoiled, harmonious wilderness.


C'en est fait du paradis (2).= the idiom « c’en est fait de » means :- it’s over -  it’s the end of – it’s goodbye to – it’s had it!

selon les cas(3)= it all depends (on the individual case)


essoufflés(4)  = out of breath/ breathless – winded.   à bout de souffle(4)= out of breath


s'envoler(5) = are blown away, swirl up- take flight


La boucle est bouclée(6) the buckle is fastened


on ne prend plus rien du bout des doigts,(7) prendre qch du bout des doigts means to take hold of something gently or tentatively


prendre à pleines mains(8) to grab hold of with both hands


ma foi(9) a mild oath = well then


on retourne sur ses pas(10) / retourner sur ses pas means to turn back/ to retrace your steps


en douce(11) = on the quiet


nous sont acquis(12) acquis is the past participle of the verb acquérir = to acquire .  « Être acquis à q’n means to be some-one’s by right.  Ses faveurs nous sont acquises means that we can rely on his favours (Robert).


transi(13) means chilled to the bone / numb / transfixed/ paralysed (with fear)







A pianist called Charlotte plays Chopin’s Posthumous Waltz on Dailymotion.  She apologises for a wrong note she played near the end, but I wouldn’t know.  Go to: