“Préface” de Paul Claudel

Je suis rentrée en France, apres 18 ans de vie aux Etats-Unis et donc ce poème a  pour moi une signification tout à fait particulière. Vous entendrez dans ce poème que je suis très émue... [Read More...]

“Parfum Exotique” de Charles Baudelaire

I chose this poem quite simply because it is one of my favorites. Of course, like many French and Americans, I adore Baudelaire for his stylistic originality and his extreme sensitivity. I love this poem because it is simply beautiful, highly sensual, and surprisingly positive for a Baudelaire poem! [Read More...]

“Chant d’Automne” de Paul Verlaine

This sad and melancholic, yet wonderful, short poem is also charged with historic meaning. You might be familiar with the first 2 verses which were used by General de Gaulle, chief of the resistance and future president of the liberated France, in the days and hours preceding the launch of D-day. [Read More...]

“La Maison Du Berger” d’Alfred de Vigny

This 19th century poem, 336 verse long, is in fact very philosophical and talks about the human condition. Written in Alexandrines, the poet entices a woman (Èva) to leave urban life, and live in Nature (considered as God's creation) which fascinates him as much as it disgusts him. "La Maison du Berger" (the Sheppard's House) is in fact a mobile home: it is therefore a symbol of mobility which allows the poet to live in the middle of Nature, and then come back to the city. [Read More...]

“Ode à Cassandre” de Pierre de Ronsard

This poem – written in the 16th century for King Charles IX's court – is a very well done exercise of style. Based on a quite common image – a girl and a rose – Ronsard manages to create a graceful and sensual poem that glorifies the game of seduction. [Read More...]

“Je vis, je meurs” de Louise Labé

The first recognized French poetess, Louise Labbé 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 is simple and still so very modern: love and its torments... [Read More...]

“Les Vous et les Tu” de Voltaire

"Les Vous et Les Tu" is a sensual, yet very deep poem from Voltaire, 18th century. Particularly interesting for students is that it plays on the difference between Tu and Vous, since Voltaire says "tu" to the woman he loved, and "vous" to the one she became. [Read More...]

“Les Pas” de Paul Valéry

In this classical yet sensual and very musical poem, Valéry describes two people: the “I” who represents the poet and a feminine entity who is approaching. Ghost? Fairy? Or would it be the poet's muse? [Read More...]

“Le Dormeur du Val” d’Arthur Rimbaud

This poem, written by the 16-year old Rimbaud, is partially in the classic form but already announces his future avant-garde poems. When he wrote this piece, France was at war with Prussia, and Rimbaud was frequently running away from home and traveling by foot. It is therefore possible that the scene described in the poem is a real scene. [Read More...]

“Tristesse” d’Alfred de Musset

Alfred de Musset is a poet of the beginning of the 19th century in Paris. Mostly known for his romantic poems, his theater pieces and his novels, de Musset's first collection of poems won the approval of Victor Hugo, who accepted him in his Romantic literary circle: Cénacle.
He was the lover of the women writer George Sand, who was the inspiration for this poem. [Read More...]

“Le Pont Mirabeau” de Guillaume Apollinaire

Legend has it that this poem was inspired by the rupture between Apollinaire and the female painter Marie Laurencin, because he had to cross the Mirabeau bridge to go see her. In an ultra modern form, with short verses, a refrain that repeats throughout the poem like a song, and without punctuation, the poem speaks of the classic themes of the fatality of passing time and the pain of love. [Read More...]

“Le Lac” d’Alphonse de Lamartine

Lamartine, a pioneer of the French Romantic movement, is considered one of the greatest French poets of the nineteenth century. In this poem Lamartine talks about the ephemeral nature of life and love.
Written in highly melodious and emotional verse, "Le lac" epitomizes the lyrical qualities of Lamartine's poetry. [Read More...]