Friday, April 29, 2011

Jacques Prévert's poem: La grasse matinée (Over Sleeping) presented by Walter Ruhlmann

Here is Jacques Prévert's poem: La grasse matinée (Over Sleeping) which I translated myself. This poem is probably one of the first poems I had to learn at school which was not a rhyme or something like that, but a genuine "adult" poem. I was ten. Mum would help me learn it by heart. She would say it was a tough poem for children: I guess she meant both its meaning and length.

Prévert is probably - just after Baudelaire - the poet who counts the most and from whom I feel the closest.

Jacques Prévert: (4 February 1900 – 11 April 1977) was a French poet and screenwriter. His poems became and remain very popular in the French-speaking world, particularly in schools. Some of the movies he wrote are extremely well-regarded, with Les Enfants du Paradis considered one of the greatest films of all time.

Over Sleeping

It is terrible
the cracking noise of the boiled egg broken on a tin counter
it is a terrible noise
when it buzzes in the head of a man full of hunger
it is terrible too the man's head
the head of the man full of hunger
when he looks at himself at six in the morning
in the window of the super store
a head colour of dust
yet it is not his head he's looking at
in the window of Potin's store
he cares not of his head the man
he's not thinking about it
he's dreaming
he's imagining another head
the head of a calf for instance
with vinegar sauce
or any other head that you can eat
and he slowly moves his jaws
and he gnashes his teeth
because everybody's mocking on him
and he can't do anything
and he counts on his fingers one two three
one two three
he hasn't had anything to eat for three days
and he may be saying to himself for three days
it can't go on
it does
three days
three nights
nothing to eat
and behind these windows
the pâté the bottles the cans
dead fish protected by cans
cans protected by windows
windows protected by cops
cops protected by dread
so many barricades for only six sardines...
Further on stands a snack
cream-coffee and fresh croissants
the man staggers
and inside his head
a fog of words
a fog of words
sardines to eat
boiled eggs cream-coffee
coffee topped up with rum
crime-coffee splattered with blood!...
A man much considered in his neighbourhood
was murdered in daylight
the murderer the tramp stole from him
two francs
that is to say a topped-up coffee
zero francs seventy
two slices of bread and butter
and twenty-five cents for the waiter's tip.

La grasse matinée

Il est terrible
le petit bruit de l'oeuf dur cassé sur un comptoir d'étain
il est terrible ce bruit
quand il remue dans la mémoire de l'homme qui a faim
elle est terrible aussi la tête de l'homme
la tête de l'homme qui a faim
quand il se regarde à six heures du matin
dans la glace du grand magasin
une tête couleur de poussière
ce n'est pas sa tête pourtant qu'il regarde
dans la vitrine de chez Potin
il s'en fout de sa tête l'homme
il n'y pense pas
il songe
il imagine une autre tête
une tête de veau par exemple
avec une sauce de vinaigre
ou une tête de n'importe quoi qui se mange
et il remue doucement la mâchoire
et il grince des dents doucement
car le monde se paye sa tête
et il ne peut rien contre ce monde
et il compte sur ses doigts un deux trois
un deux trois
cela fait trois jours qu'il n'a pas mangé
et il a beau se répéter depuis trois jours
Ça ne peut pas durer
ça dure
trois jours
trois nuits
sans manger
et derrière ce vitres
ces pâtés ces bouteilles ces conserves
poissons morts protégés par les boîtes
boîtes protégées par les vitres
vitres protégées par les flics
flics protégés par la crainte
que de barricades pour six malheureuses sardines..
Un peu plus loin le bistrot
café-crème et croissants chauds
l'homme titube
et dans l'intérieur de sa tête
un brouillard de mots
un brouillard de mots
sardines à manger
oeuf dur café-crème
café arrosé rhum
café-crime arrosé sang !...
Un homme très estimé dans son quartier
a été égorgé en plein jour
l'assassin le vagabond lui a volé
deux francs
soit un café arrosé
zéro franc soixante-dix
deux tartines beurrées
et vingt-cinq centimes pour le pourboire du garçon.

Jacques Prévert

1 comment:

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