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La Madelon or Quand Madelon, also known in English as Madelon (I'll Be True to the Whole Regiment)[1] is a French popular song of World War I. Although it is mostly known as La Madelon the proper title is Quand Madelon which are the beginning words of the refrain. The lyrics are by Louis Bousquet (1914) and the music by Camille Robert.

The song tells a story about soldiers flirting with a lovely young waitress in a country tavern and may partly owe its long term popularity to the fact that the lyrics were clean at a time when soldiers' songs were mostly bawdy and rude.[2] It was one of the most popular songs in France during World War I and became a patriotic song as the war wore on. It remains a patriotic, well-known song in France to this day. It also became popular among Spanish soldiers.[3]

It was revived in World War II and Marlene Dietrich sang it in Paris in 1939 during the celebration of the national day of 14 July.

The 1955 French film La Madelon, directed by Jean Boyer was a comedy based on Madelon's legend starring the great Line Renaud who plays the title character and sings the song surrounded by soldiers.

Spanish actress-singer Sara Montiel sang it in the box office hit movie El Último Cuplé (Juan de Orduña, Spain 1957). The soundtrack album was also an international success.


French lyrics Literal Translation Contemporary verse translation[4]

Pour le repos, le plaisir du militaire,
Il est là-bas à deux pas de la forêt
Une maison aux murs tout couverts de lierre
« Aux Tourlourous » c'est le nom du cabaret.
La servante est jeune et jolie
Légère comme un papillon.
Comme son vin son œil pétille,
Nous l'appelons la Madelon
Nous en rêvons la nuit, nous y pensons le jour,
Ce n'est que Madelon mais pour nous c'est l'amour

At rest, a soldier's recreation
Is just a stone's throw away from the forest
A house with ivy-covered walls
"The Recruit's" is the name of the Cabaret
The waitress is young and pretty,
As light as a butterfly,
As her wine, so her eye sparkles,
We call her "Madelon"
We dream of her at night, we think of her in day,
It is only Madelon whom we love.

There is a tavern way down in Brittany
Where weary soldiers take their liberty,
The keeper's daughter whose name is Madelon
Pours out the wine while they laugh and carry on,
And while the wine goes to their senses,
Her sparkling glance goes to their hearts,
Their admiration so intense is
Each one his tale of love imparts,
She coquettes with them all, but favors none at all,
And here's the way they banter ev'ry time they call:


Quand Madelon vient nous servir à boire
Sous la tonnelle on frôle son jupon
Et chacun lui raconte une histoire
Une histoire à sa façon
La Madelon pour nous n'est pas sévère
Quand on lui prend la taille ou le menton
Elle rit, c'est tout le mal qu'elle sait faire
Madelon, Madelon, Madelon!


When Madelon serves us all our drinks
Beneath the arbor we keep by her
And everyone tells her a story
Each telling a different story
Madelon is not angry at us
When we exaggerate our feats,
She laughs, it's all she can do:
Madelon, Madelon, Madelon!


 "O Madelon you are the only one,
O Madelon for you we'll carry on,
It's so long since we have seen a miss,
Won't you give us just a kiss?"
But Madelon she takes it all in fun,
She laughs and says, "You see, it can't be done,
I would like but how can I consent
When I'm true to the whole regiment!"

Nous avons tous au pays une payse
Qui nous attend et que l'on épousera
Mais elle est loin, bien trop loin pour qu'on lui dise
Ce qu'on fera quand la classe rentrera
En comptant les jours on soupire
Et quand le temps nous semble long
Tout ce qu'on ne peut pas lui dire
On va le dire à Madelon
On l'embrasse dans les coins. Elle dit « veux-tu finir… »
On s'figure que c'est l'autre, ça nous fait bien plaisir.

We all have a maiden in the countryside
Who is waiting for us and we'll some day marry,
But she is far, too far, truth be told,
When what will we do until us soldiers return,
Counting the days we sigh?
And when the time seems long,
All we cannot tell others
We tell Madelon.
We kiss her in the corner [of her lip], she asks, "Do you want to finish?
When we realise it is her, it makes us very happy

She knows a Captain who twirls a big mustache,
She knows a Colonel whose eyes with anger flash,
She gives them both the sweetest kind of smile,
And now and then chats with each a little while.
Just when his talk gets interesting,
The other hollers for some wine,
She laughs and skips away suggesting
They'll talk again some other time
She never answers "Yes" she never tells them "No"
And here's the song they're singing when they come and go:

Un caporal en képi de fantaisie
S'en fut trouver Madelon un beau matin
Et, fou d'amour, lui dit qu'elle était jolie
Et qu'il venait pour lui demander sa main
La Madelon, pas bête, en somme,
Lui répondit en souriant:
Et pourquoi prendrais-je un seul homme
Quand j'aime tout un régiment ?
Tes amis vont venir. Tu n'auras pas ma main
J'en ai bien trop besoin pour leur verser du vin

A corporal in a fancy kepi
Met with Madelon one morning
And, madly in love, told her she was pretty,
And asked for her hand in marriage
But Madelon, not stupid, in short
Replied to him with a smile:
"Why should I take one man
When I love the whole regiment?
Your friends will come, you will not have my hand,
I have too much need to serve wine.

External linksEdit


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  4. ^ "Madelon (I'll be true to the whole regiment):Song." Frances G. Spencer Collection of American Popular Sheet Music. Accessed January 01, 2018.