Sanguine

The tip of your breast//has traced a new luck-line//in the hollow of my hand

The poetry of Jacques Prévert was one of the nicer discoveries of the past year for me.  Prévert did his military service around the time of the First World War (I’m not sure when–English-language and French-language Wikipedia give different dates).  During the Second World War, he protected the Jewish composer Joseph Kosma, who would set some of his poetry to music–and who joined the maquis (combatants in the Resistance) and was injured when he jumped on a mine during the liberation of Nice.

There are some themes that recur quite frequently in Prévert’s poetry.  They include Paris and the Seine; love; and war.  This being the very first day of National Poetry Month, I’ll give you one of his love poems, along with my attempt at a translation–we’ll get to some of the war poetry later.  The poem is Sanguine, published in 1951.

la pointe de ton sein
a tracé une nouvelle ligne de chance
dans le creux de ma main

the tip of your breast
has traced a new fate line
in the hollow of my hand 

Sanguine

La fermeture éclair a glissé sur tes reins
et tout l’orage heureux de ton corps amoureux
au beau milieu de l’ombre
a éclaté soudain
Et ta robe en tombant sur le parquet ciré
n’a pas fait plus de bruit
qu’une écorce d’orange tombant sur un tapis
Mais sous nos pieds
ses petits boutons de nacre craquaient comme des pépins
Sanguine
joli fruit
la pointe de ton sein
a tracé une nouvelle ligne de chance
dans le creux de ma main
Sanguine
joli fruit
Soleil de nuit.

The zipper slid down your lower back
and all of the happy storm of your loving body
right in the midst of the shadows
suddenly burst out
And falling on the waxed floor, your dress
made no more noise
than an orange peel falling on a rug
But beneath our feet
its little pearl buttons crackled like seeds
Blood orange
beautiful fruit
the tip of your breast
has traced a new fate line
in the hollow of my hand
Blood orange
beautiful fruit
night sun.


A number of Prévert’s poems have been set to music.  Here’s Yves Montand singing Sanguine:

 

…and here’s a guy with an odd accent–probably no odder than mine, me being, like him, an American–reading it:


French notes

la chiromansie : palmistry.  The chi is pronounced ki.  How would one know that, other than by looking it up (I had to)?  I don’t know–the pronunciation of chi usually baffles me.

la fermeture éclair: zipper, except when you’re talking about the zipper on a pair of pants, which is la braguette, as I learned the hard way in a café on rue des Écoles one day–a story for another time, perhaps.

A question (I’m lookin’ at you, Phil dAnge, and I have a poem for you later this month): why is the feminine form of éclair written without a final e?  Looks like clair to me, whose feminine is claire. 

One thought on “Sanguine”

  1. Thank you, I have a deep admiration and love for Prévert, one from the last period when France was still the eternal France . Destiny made him live for a time in the same alley-way as Boris Vian, another of my venerated ones .
    Prévert also wrote the dialogs of some monuments of French cinema, for Renoir and Carné :”Les enfants du Paradis”, “Les visiteurs du soir”, Drôle de drame”,”Quai des brumes”, “Les portes de la nuit”, etc … He also wrote the screenplay and dialogs of a cartoon jewel, a masterpiece of poetry, politics and humour, “Le Roi et l’Oiseau” . This cartoon was a tremendous discovery for me, I recommend it 1000 times .

    Here is a little poem a girl made me discover when I was 15 :
    Je suis comme je suis
    http://1poeme1image.over-blog.com/article-30911774.html

    Liked by 1 person

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