“Les Colchiques” de Guillaume Appollinaire

Aujourd'hui, je vais vous lire un poème de Guillaume Apollinaire, l'un des plus grands poètes français du début du 20ème siècle, auteur notamment du célébrissime Pont Mirabeau. Poète et théoricien de l'Esprit nouveau, ses oeuvres annoncent déjà surréalisme. Dans ce poème, la femme est associée à une fleur des champs, la colchique. Mais la colchique est vénéneuse, c'est donc un poison... [Read More...]

“Liberté” de Paul Eluard

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". [Read More...]

“Dans la Forêt Sans Heures” de Jules Supervielle

Aujourd'hui, je vais vous lire un poème de Jules Supervielle, poète assez moderne puisqu'il est mort en 1960. Ce poème est très court, et facile à comprendre. À l'écart du mouvement surréaliste, la poésie de Supervielle est humaine, souvent inspirée par le monde qui nous entoure et la nature. [Read More...]

“Chanson pour les enfants l’hiver” de Jacques Prevert

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.

[Read More...]

“Spleen” de Charles Baudelaire

Aujourd'hui, je vais vous lire un poème très connu de Charles Baudelaire: Spleen. Ce poème est écrit en Alexandrins, donc le rythme est très important, et vous devez pour le respecter, prononcer des lettres qui sont généralement silencieuses. C'est un très bon exercise de prononciation.

[Read More...]

“Voyelles” d’Arthur Rimbaud

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. [Read More...]

“Les Conquérants” de José Maria de Hérédia

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. [Read More...]

“L’Abeille” de Paul Valéry

Paul Valéry croit que la poésie possède un pouvoir émotionnel qui peut être presque magique. Pour lui, un poème parfait ressemble à une formule magique, et le sens logique d’un poème n’a pas beaucoup d’importance. En fait, il a donné à un de ses recueils de poésie le nom « Charmes ». [Read More...]

“Sonnet XXIV” de Louise Labé

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. [Read More...]

“À Une Passante” de Charles Baudelaire

Au milieu d’une rue étourdissante,  le poète croise du regard  une femme qui passe et il est  ébloui par sa beauté et sa noblesse.  Quand elle disparaît tout à coup dans la foule, il devient découragé.  Mais malgré la brièveté de l’instant, il découvre qu’il se sent profondément touché par l’expérience.  Le thème est  la rencontre, l’espoir puis l’échec de l’amour. [Read More...]

“Quand Au Mouton Bêlant” d’André Chénier

Born in 1762, André Chénier is sentenced to death by guillotine at 32 years old, as Robespierre imposes the Terror through France. Pro revolution, but also defendant of the king, Chenier is moderat at a time when moderation looks suspect to the extremists Jacobins under Robespierre's lead. Chénier wrote the poem I am about to read as he is in prison: with this poem, he delivers to his fellow men his last message of peace before being led to the guillotine. Sad irony, Chénier will die two days only before the death of his prosecutor. [Read More...]

“Le Rameur” de Paul Valéry

"Le Rameur" describes a man who is rowing on a beautiful river. All is calm and you can only hear the sounds of his oars. The images are gorgeous and so is the rhythm. Then the poet starts to compare his effort to row with the effort of living ; the river becomes the time that passes, he fights it but it brings him inevitably towards death. [Read More...]

“Le Chêne et le Roseau” de Jean de la Fontaine – Audio

This fable tells a great story about a reed (which represent the people) and an all-mighty oak (representing the king). The oak thinks he is indestructible, and says the reed is very unfortunate to be what he is. The oak wishes he could help the reed, but he knows he cannot and pities him. The reed however, says he might not be strong, but he is tough. And that is the true strength. To prove him right, a huge storm arrives and takes the oak down. This was very courageous of La Fontaine to present this fable to the king, since the message is that the king is not as powerful as he thinks he is... [Read More...]

“Le Temps a Laissé son Manteau” de Charles d’Orléans

Today's poem is very simple and is studied by French middle school students as an introduction to Old French. I am going to read the poem, but also explain the text in French and speak about the author. It's about the arrival of Spring. The descriptions are charming and talk to all our senses: we can feel the coat of Winter against our skin, our ears capture the animal songs celebrating the upcoming Spring, and our eyes are blinded by the reflection of the sun over the rivers full of winter's waters. [Read More...]

“La Cigale et la Fourmi” de Jean de La Fontaine

Like most of La Fontaine's fables, "La Cigale et la Fourmi” is not a story that he invented. Drawing inspiration from oral traditions and the fables of Aesop and other poets of Greek and Roman antiquity La Fontaine changes the classic fable by omitting the moral. Why? Listen to the poem's analysis to find out. [Read More...]