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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.

1 – Poem / song

Chanson pour les enfants l’hiver

Dans la nuit de l’hiver
galope un grand homme blanc
c’est un bonhomme de neige
avec une pipe en bois
un grand bonhomme de neige
poursuivi par le froid

il arrive au village
voyant de la lumière
le voilà rassuré.
Dans une petite maison
il entre sans frapper

et pour se réchauffer
s’assoit sur le poêle rouge,
et d’un coup disparait
ne laissant que sa pipe
au milieu d’une flaque d’eau
ne laissant que sa pipe
et puis son vieux chapeau.

2 – Translation

In the winter’s night
A big white man is running
It is a snowman

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With a wooden pipe
A big snowman
Chased by the cold

He arrives in town
Seeing some light
He feels reassured.
In a small house,
He entered without knocking.

And to warm up
Sits on the red wood stove
And suddenly disappears.
Leaving only his pipe
In the middle of a puddle
Leaving only his pipe
And also his old hat.