Tuesday, August 29, 2006

French Poetry, Just Because I Can

Seriously, by now, poetry haters/trolls should go read some other blog.

Now that I am soooo "over" my post-colonial anxiety, I am embracing all things French. I love baking tartes, I will soon set up a coq au vin dinner party, I love having bowls of chocolat chaud, my horrible gringaish accent is improving, I love kissing on the cheek to greet hello and goodbye (such a charming gesture, and I love smelling the various scents), and I love the surprisingly warm natures of my French classmates. Being a typical American, I thought they would be "snooty," but in fact I have never liked anyone so well as the ones I have spent this past week with. I guess I will stop calling pommes frites "freedom fries" now.

I have two very charming French friends in particular, who recently introduced me to the poetry of Jacques Prevert. The first, they translated for me, the second, they made me figure out on my own (with help on the prepositions and certain words beyond my ability to figure out from my general knowledge of Latinate origins). They are incredibly lovely, and not so (sorry, Paul Gowder) "obvious" as Neruda about love and longing. I like the subtlety.

And I liked the cross-cultural sharing of poetry. My contribution? A.E. Housman, Yeats, Eliot, Hopkins. Hey, no matter my recent francophone turn, I was originally an Anglophile. Next up is Hart Crane, probably the least read and appreciated American poet (nowadays at least).

But onto the lovely (rather than "heavy") stuff:

Le jardin

Des milliers et des milliers d'années
Ne sauraient suffire
Pour dire
La petite seconde d'éternité
Où tu m'as embrassé
Où je t'ai embrassèe
Un matin dans la lumière de l'hiver
Au parc Montsouris à Paris
A Paris
Sur la terre
La terre qui est un astre.

Paris at night

Trois allumettes une à une allumées dans la nuit
La premiére pour voir ton visage tout entier
La seconde pour voir tes yeux
La dernière pour voir ta bouche
Et l'obscuritè tout entière pour me rappeler tout cela
En te serrant dans mes bras.

-- Jacques Prevert


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