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Bleuet (1939) FP 102


Jeune homme
De vingt ans
Qui as vu des choses si affreuses
Que penses-tu des hommes de ton enfance
Tu connais la bravoure et la ruse
Tu as vu la mort en face plus de cent fois
Tu ne sais pas ce que c’est que la vie
Transmets ton intrépidité
À ceux qui viendront
Après toi
Jeune homme
Tu es joyeux ta mémoire est ensanglantée
Ton âme est rouge aussi
De joie
Tu as absorbé la vie de ceux qui sont morts près de toi
Tu as de la décision
Il est 17 heures et tu saurais
Sinon mieux que tes aînés
Du moins plus pieusement
Car tu connais mieux la mort que la vie
Ô douceur d’autrefois
Lenteur immémoriale


Young man
Of twenty,
You who have seen such horrible things,
What do you think of the men from your childhood?
You know what bravery is and cunning
You have faced death more than a hundred times
You do not know what life is
Hand down your fearlessness
To those who shall come
After you
Young man
You are joyous your memory is steeped in blood
Your soul is red also
With joy
You have absorbed the life of those who died beside you
You are resolute
It is 1700 hrs and you would know
How to die
If not better than your elders
At least with greater piety
For you are better acquainted with death than life
Oh sweetness of bygone days
Slow-moving beyond all memory
Translation © Richard Stokes, author of A French Song Companion (Oxford, 2000)

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Francis Jean Marcel Poulenc (F7 January 1899 – 30 January 1963) was a French composer and pianist. His compositions include mélodies, solo piano works, chamber music, choral pieces, operas, ballets, and orchestral concert music.

Read the full Wikipedia article here.

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Guillaume Apollinaire  (26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918) was a French poet, playwright, short story writer, novelist, and art critic of Polish-Belarusian descent.

Apollinaire is considered one of the foremost poets of the early 20th century, as well as one of the most impassioned defenders of Cubism and a forefather of Surrealism. He is credited with coining the term "cubism" in 1911 to describe the emerging art movement and the term "surrealism" in 1917 to describe the works of Erik Satie. The term Orphism (1912) is also his. Apollinaire wrote one of the earliest Surrealist literary works, the play The Breasts of Tiresias (1917), which became the basis for the 1947 opera Les mamelles de Tirésias.

Apollinaire was active as a journalist and art critic for Le Matin, L'Intransigeant, L'Esprit nouveau, Mercure de France, and Paris Journal. In 1912 Apollinaire cofounded Les Soirées de Paris, an artistic and literary magazine.

Two years after being wounded in World War I, Apollinaire died in the Spanish flu pandemic of 1918; he was 38.

Taken from Wikipedia. Read more here.

Click here to read some of his poetry.

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