la france en poésie

6 May

The French written tradition unfolds at the intersection of  tongue-in-cheek irony, sometimes playful, sometimes stinging, profound melancholy, very graphic humor, and always pierced by a keen sensitivity to what is beautiful.

Reading French literature and poetry as a foreigner muddles the text’s clarity — often just a question of missing vocabulary.  Yet the sounds alone of the words, even absent the precise content, make reading a very pleasurable activity.   When I’m sick and blocked up, it’s more difficult to concentrate on the text’s meaning.  But its sound and form remain, its essential physicality on the page and the tongue, which is enough.

The following is from a popular French poet of the last century, Jacques Prévert:


Quel jour sommes-nous

Nous sommes tous les jours

Mon amie

Nous sommes toute la vie

Mon amour

Nous nous aimons et nous vivons

Nous vivons et nous nous aimons

Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que la vie

Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que le jour

Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que l’amour.


One Response to “la france en poésie”

  1. Gary Smith May 6, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Nice poem. Even with my fading French, I was able to get it with no trouble. Of course, if it were spoken by a Frenchman, it would also sound very romantic.

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