Sudden remembrance of Jacques Prévert’s poems

Remembering Jacques Prévert’s poems that I loved when youngster.

Chanson
Quel jour sommes-nous
 Nous sommes tous les jours
 Mon amie
 Nous sommes toute la vie
 Mon amour
 Nous nous aimons et nous vivons
 Nous vivons et nous nous aimons
 Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que la vie
 Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que le jour
 Et nous ne savons pas ce que c’est que l’amour.

Song
What day are we?
 We are every day
 My friend
 We’re the whole of life
 My love
 We love and we live
 We live and we love
 And we don’t really know
 What life is
 And we don’t really know
 What the day is
 And we don’t really know
 What love is
“Poems of Jacques Prévert”, Alastair Campbell. Deep South v.3. n.1. (Autumn 1997)

Of course, a quick glance on the Web fetched quite some nice stuff. For instance this collection of poems from Paroles translated into English by none other than Lawrence Ferlinghetti. Which brings us to a very current one, Pater Noster, which Ferlinghetti himself recited on video.

Our Father who art in heaven
 Stay there
 And we’ll stay here on earth
 Which is sometimes so pretty
 With its mysteries of New York
 And its mysteries of Paris
 Worth as much as that of the Trinity
 With its little canal at Ourcq
 Its great wall of China
 Its river at Morlaix
 Its candy canes
 With its Pacific Ocean
 And its two basins in the Tuileries
 With its good children and bad people
 With all the wonders of the world
 Which are here
 Simply on the earth
 Offered to everyone
 Strewn about
 Wondering at the wonder of themselves
 And daring not avow it
 As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself
 With the world’s outrageous misfortunes
 Which are legion
 With their legionaries
 With their torturers
 With the masters of this world
 The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops
 With the seasons
 With the years
 With the pretty girls and with the old bastards
 With the straw of misery rotting in the steel
 of cannons.
— Jacques Prévert, Paroles. Translated by Lawrence Ferlinghetti. City Lights Books, San Francisco 1958, 1990. Available here: http://words-in-lines.tumblr.com/post/10837208157/our-father-who-art-in-heaven-stay-there-and

Ferlinghetti’s own City Light Bookstore in San Francisco posted on Scribd a selection online of poems from Paroles.

Now, Prévert reminds me the French chansonniers: Jacques Brel. Here is the famed Les feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves) sung by the great Yves Montand and then Jacques Brel singing Ne me quitte pas.


Originally published at Skate of the web.