In the English version of the song “Madeleine,” as performed in Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, there’s a couplet that I always thought went like this:
Madeleine’s my Tisiphe;
She’s America to me.
I’ve been listening to the song, now and then, since the mid-’80s. I had a vague recollection that Tisiphe was someone from Greek mythology, and left it at that.
But today I finally got curious and looked up Tisiphe, only to find that I had misremembered the name; I was probably thinking of Tisiphone, one of the Furies/Erinyes. There doesn’t appear to have been someone named Tisiphe.
So what could the song be talking about? I finally took the daring step of looking up the lyrics. And discovered that the line is really “Madeleine’s my ‘’Tis of Thee,’” as in “My country, ’tis of thee, […] of thee I sing.”
A perfectly reasonable line in the context of the song. But I’m a little embarrassed to have misheard it for 30+ years.