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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"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...

"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!

"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.

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"Le Niagara" de Louis Fréchette

I'm going to talk about one of the most well known Canadian poems, and share with you a narrative of the poet's life, and analysis of the poem as written by a dear student of mine.

"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.

"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.

"Ballade des Dames du Temps Jadis" et "Épitaphe" de François Villon

Today, I’m going to read 2 poems of the 15th century: I will read them once in current French, and once in 15th century French, in their original form, and I will also present you the life of Villon.And you'll also get a bonus; the interpretation by French songwriter George Brassens of "Ballade des dames du temps jadis".

"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...