Today, I’m going to read a poem almost all French children know; they might have learned it as a poem, or as a song. It was written by Jacques Prevert, famous 20th century author who wrote simple poetry using everyday language, hence making him very popular in our school system - remember that French children have to memorize poetry throughout their studies, but particularly in elementary school to develop their memory as well as taste for French literature.
French Poem Readings
In this section, I am going to read classical French poems twice: once slowly – so you can repeat after me – and once faster, with my own interpretation of the poem. I will also sometimes tell you about the author, or explain the vocabulary or the meaning of the poem, all in easy everyday French.
In my “Easy French poems and analysis” series, I read and explain using simple words the very most famous French poems, such as “Demain, dès l’aube”, “la Cigale et la Fourmi”, “Parfum Exotique”… and talk about the author’s life (Hugo, La Fontaine, Baudelaire…). These analysis are a great way to improve your understanding and vocabulary, train your brain to stay focus for a longer discussion and learn about French culture and poetry.
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You like the challenge of longer yet reachable French recordings?
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French writer of the 20th century, Louis Aragon was involved in Dadaism from 1919 to 1924. He then became a founding member of Surrealism in 1924, with André Breton and Philippe Soupault. In the 1920s, Aragon became a fellow traveler of the French Communist Party along with several other surrealists, and took out his card in January 1927.
Aujourd'hui, je vais vous lire un des poèmes les plus connus d'Arthur Rimbaud: Voyelles. C'est le premier poème rimbaldien qui utilise l'association comme principe d'écriture. Chaque voyelle éveille de multiples images, des impressions visuelles, sonores, olfactives. Chaque voyelle est illustrée d'un ou plusieurs tableaux qui sont autant d'hallucinations, d'illuminations. "Voyelles" est avant tout un poème d'éveil qui cherche à parler et à faire parler.
Né en 1895, Paul Eluard, de son vrai nom Eugène Grindel, est le co-fondateur du Surréalisme. Ses poèmes d’amour glorifient la femme, ses poèmes politiques luttent pour un monde plus juste, fondé sur l'amour et le partage. Paul Eluard maitrise tous les styles ; la prose rythmique, l’écriture libre ou bien même les Alexandrins. Pendant la deuxième guerre mondiale, il fait partie de la Résistance et a secretement distribué des poèmes politiques, en particulier ce poème mondialement connu, que je vais vous lire aujourd’hui "Liberté".
From the very end of the 19th century, this poem is the incarnation of The French "Parnasse" movement. It appeared in reaction to Romanticism, and rehabilitates the work on the perfection of language and style, and preaches for impersonality . The purpose of the poet is to make his poem a symbol of beauty, poetry perfection. Hérédia will take us into the travels and hopes of Conquistadors, a very important moment of Human History.
Today, I’m going to read the poem Sonnet 24 by Louise Labé, the first recognized French poetess. She was born in Lyon, between 1520 and 1525. She was raised during one of the most interesting centuries in literature's history. The Middle Ages were over, and the Italian renaissance was creating a revolution in France’s artistic life. The message of the poem is simple and still so very modern: love and its torments...I will read the poem once slowly so you can repeat after me, then I’ll read it faster with a personal interpretation.