Péché d'envie

Carla Bruni wrote this song in collaboration with her lover, Raphaël Enthoven, the father of her son. Perhaps the weight of abstraction here, reflects the presence of a leading academic philosopher at her side. 
In a later song:"Priere"  Carla tells us that although she does not practise any of the organised religions, she still feels the need to spend some time alone in private prayer when she speaks her thoughts aloud to some-one or something, that listens to her and gives her comfort.  In Péché d'envie, we are probably eavesdropping on such a moment of reflection.

The present song is a gentle, touching poem in which Carla Bruni reviews the myriad aspects of her eventful life. In each cryptic line she gives suggestions of things she has done, her enjoyments and her trials, her ecstasies and disappointments, loving and fighting, behaving sweetly and not so sweetly. As the words are symbolic, the translator has to make brave guesses at times.

Elsewhere Carla tells us that at the end of each day she spends some quiet time alone in prayer to a  confessor, she does not and probably cannot define. Conventionally, we might expect her to be asking for the sins of the past to be cleared away. However she is making a plea to God or to the devil to be able to retain her sins, and to be able to live on with what she has done and what she has been. We can understand that, without them, her rapidly passing life would be reduced to nothing while she still lives and she as a person would cease to exist. As an admirer of Carla Bruni, I imagine that there are many men who would dream of helping to shoulder her "sins", however deep her claws might dig from time to time.

It has brought back to my mind a comment on religious history that I noted a time ago. It said: “When the fathers of the Church, in the early Middle Ages, consolidated with Italianate flair, their exclusive, universal franchise for the exploitation of “Sin”, they marked out its scope to cover the minor routine transactions of everyday life which would otherwise have been got through without any officious outside intervention. The side effect of this new priestly ploy was the massive reduction of human happiness in ages to come and the mass production of guilt, which over the centuries has embedded itself as a character trait in vast numbers of, to all intents and purposes, innocent people.”

One of the great wise men of all time, Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) pondered this paradox in his collection of religious thoughts:

There are only two kinds of people: the righteous who believe themselves sinners; the rest sinners, who believe themselves righteous. Pensées (533)

YouTube Video




Carla Bruni - Péché d'envie


The sin of wanting too much

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir fait

Envie d´avoir dit

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir été

Envie d´avoir compris

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir croqué,(1)

D´avoir brûlé, d´avoir glissé (2)

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir chéri

Et que le diable me pardonne toutes mes belles envies.


C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir vu

Et d´avoir frémi

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir connu

Envie d´avoir conquis

C´est que j´ai envie d´avoir creusé,

D´avoir ramé, (3) d´avoir tout eu

Et envie d´avoir tout perdu

Et que le diable me pardonne ces envies saugrenues


Mais le temps me plie, m´enlise

Je m´y brise les dents,(4) c´est lui le gagnant

Alors j´ai envie d´avoir goûté

D´avoir entendu

Alors j´ai envie d´avoir dansé

D´avoir touché les nues

Alors j´ai envie d´avoir prié,

D´avoir désiré, dévoré

Je veux avoir chanté et bu

Et que le diable me pardonne ces envies sans retenue



 Mais le temps m´embarque, il me nargue

Il m´emporte sûrement et doucement le temps,

Alors j´ai envie d´avoir aimé

To adoration,

 Alors j´ai envie d´avoir maudit

Et d´avoir détesté

 Alors j´ai envie d´avoir voulu, d´avoir mordu

D´avoir crié, d´avoir soupiré et griffé

Et que le bon Dieu me pardonne ces quelques doux péchés {x2}




Que le bon Dieu me pardonne


Que le diable me pardonne


 Que le diable me pardonne




It’s that I really want to’ve done

I really want to’ve said

It’s that I really want to’ve been

Want to have understood

It’s that I really want to have indulged,

To've been on fire, to have let slip,

It’s that I really want to have loved hard

And the devil forgive me all my beaut'ful desires.



It’s that I really want to’ve seen

And to have shivered

It’s that I really want to have known

Really want to’ve conquered

It’s that I want to have gone in deep,

To have slogged hard, to’ve had it all

And really want to've lost it all

And may the devil forgive me these ludicrous desires.


But time weighs on me, ensnares me.

I struggle in vain – it’s the one that wins.

And so I really want to’ve tasted

Really want to’ve heard

And so I really want to have danced

To’ve reached up to the sky

And so I really want to have begged,

To have desired, have feasted

I wish to have drunk, and have sung.

And may the devil forgive me all these unbridled desires.



But time drags me aboard, it taunts me

Time spirits me slowly and surely away.

And so I really want to’ve loved

D´avoir adoré

And so I really want to’ve cursed

And totally hated And so I really want to have desired, to have bitten

To have screamed, to have sighed, and shown my claws

And may the good Lord forgive me these few gentle sins.



May the good Lord forgive me


May the devil forgive me


May the devil forgive me


1) j´ai envie d´avoir croqué – The verb « croquer » means to crunch and forms part of the brand name of a number of French breakfast cereals. The word has other colloquial meanings and Georges Brassens uses noun forms as pejoratives: "les croquants et les croquantes", when he is talking of unfeeling people who see themselves as very proper. In another poem, Brassens seems to use “croquants”for men who are comfortably off but unfeeling. I think perhaps the common denominator is an idea of self-indulgence.

2) d´avoir glissé - I am unsure in what way she slipped, slid or glided. As this a verse with positive memories of love, I thought of a sense of being conveyed effortlessly by her passions.
3) D´avoir ramé – The literal meaning of « ramer »is to row a boat. The colloquial phrase used here means to strain yourself in a long and exhausting effort – like a galley slave pulling for months on his oar.

4) Je m´y brise les dents – literally means : I smash my teeth on it. The colloquial, figurative meaning for this phrase means to exert yourself to the utmost in a vain effort- apparently while clenching hard your teeth.