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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"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.

"Apparition" et "L'Après-midi d'un Faune" de Stéphane Mallarmé

This time, I'm going to read 2 poems by Mallarmé. The beginning of L'Après-midi d'un Faune is one of my favorite poems to read out loud. It’s pure music, with flashes of enchanting images.I am not quite sure what the story says, but the rhythm of the melody is enough to delight me.

les pas paul valery french poem reading audio analysis

"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?

valery page blanche french poetry reading free audio

"La Feuille Blanche" de Paul Valéry

“La Feuille Blanche” is one of the most famous poems by Paul Valéry. It talks about what a writer feels in front of a white page, and the consequences of his actions.

dormeur du val french poetry reading free audio

"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.

tristesse Musset french poem reading

"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.

Pont mirabeau poem reading audio

"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.

le lac larmartine french poem reading audio

"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.

"Elle était déchaussée, elle était décoiffée" de Victor Hugo

This little known Victor Hugo's poem is very charming, short and easy to understand. It's about a boy who is taking a walk by a stream and suddenly discovers a beautiful, wild, and irresistible young woman bathing her feet... The poem has real cinematographic quality to it; you can picture the scene as if you were there.

"Heureux Qui Comme Ulysse" de Joachim du Bellay

Created in the 16th century, this classic French poem is written in Middle French; it is not modern, but easily understandable. Once the construction and vocabulary has been explained, it is an easy poem, even for a French beginner.