I am tinkering with a poem this morning, one that I wrote a couple years ago, and have been tinkering with off and on. It helps to forget about it for a while. It’s coming along, but still needs work.
I’m looking at the first line (‘Madame L. is selling the house’) right now, and wondering if there’s a better word than ‘house.’ ‘Farmhouse’ maybe?
This leads me to think that a ‘farmhouse’ in North America and maybe in the UK and Ireland (I’m not sure about this) suggests a house that is outside the village, in the middle of the farmer’s land. But in France, at least in the South, though there are farms surround by land, most farmers, or peasants live in villages where the houses are pressed together, perhaps for safety and sociability. Farm implements and machines, say tractors, are kept in a ‘remise’ (no real word for this in English; ‘barn’ and ‘garage’ don’t really fit) in the village too.
Madame L’s house is such a village house; but a big one, with some land attached. It sits on the side of a hill leading up the castle; once it was the schoolhouse. We went to visit it when it was for sale, because my husband’s family house was losing its view to new construction. But her house was too big and needed too much work for us.
So I guess, to stay close to the truth, ‘farmhouse’ won’t do. In French it’s a ‘maison de village’ with all that suggests, of village life after the day’s work on the farm, which can be and often is, land without a house, or only a one-room stone hut, without a door, to keep the horse in, if necessary, maybe a place to shelter from the weather, if necessary.