sharing a poetic LIFELINE with the world

Favorite Poems

djinns

Les Djinns is one of my all-time favorite poems.

Here is the poem (in French, of course)!

http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/victor_hugo/les_djinns.html

Here is a link to someone reading it on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hLQv4GgQX9A

Here are the first couple of stanzas in French:

Murs, ville,
Et port,
Asile
De mort,
Mer grise
Où brise
La brise,
Tout dort.

Dans la plaine
Naît un bruit.
C’est l’haleine
De la nuit.
Elle brame
Comme une âme
Qu’une flamme

Toujours suit !
Note the rhyme pattern, A/B/A/B/A/A/A/B

The form, both the line length and the rhyme pattern, contribute greatly to the effect of the poem. It’s extremely difficult to translate, but here is a link to one that stays pretty true to both the text and the form:

http://lyricstranslate.com/en/les-djinns-djinns.html

At one point I attempted to translate it myself but gave up in despair. Instead, I ended up with the following piece of nonsense:

lee_jeans

Lee Jeans

by Margaret Fieland

 

The real
report:
the meal,
in short,
a quart
of grease,
the teas
a tease,
the torte

,

is too plain
and not sweet.
They complain,
I repeat.
It is plain
it’s insane
to remain
here to eat.

 

The chef, you know,
who kneads the dough:
he had to go.
It’s quite a blow.
He stole the plants,
a big advance,
and all the pants,
when things were slow.

 

I hear him approach
I know it is he.
He sounds like a coach
or an angry sea.
I may be a fool
but I think it’s cruel
and not at all cool
to take things and flee.

 

So I went down the hall
to see what could be found.
I had heard someone call
so I looked all around.
I walked down to the lamp.
I wanted to decamp
but I had a bad cramp
so I leaned on the wall.

 

It was warm for the month of May.
I looked around and he was gone.
The chef hid from me, and I say
that the search for him may drag on.
I know that he has run away;
I looked around to see which way.
I know I won’t find him today,
and I don’t know where he has gone.

 

Our restaurant will close. I want to weep,
We have no more money and we are dinned
by all our creditors. I cannot sleep.
He destroyed our livelihood. He has sinned.
He took the money and he stole away.
If he is caught, then for his sins he’ll pay,
but when that day will come no one can say
and for now all our money has been skinned.

 

We would need to buy some more pants
for the waiters and for the cooks.
We could get by without more plants;
but I took a look at the books:
we can’t get by without more dough,
and there’s no place we could go
that could provide us with the dough.
That chef has really cooked the books!

 

He has passed by the court!
I see him hide away
behind the kegs of port.
He’ll try to hide all day.
I know this thief is Ben
and he has fled again.
We must catch him, and then
he must be made to pay!

 

His name’s Ben Fontaine
He lives in Billox.
He can fly a plane.
He’s sly as a fox.
He has a strange smell.
It’s one I know well,
one like a gazelle
or maybe like lox.

 

His home’s a lab
with no front door.
He owns a Lab
or three or four.
His face is grave.
Although he’s brave,
he is a knave
down to the core.

 

It’s not vague,
what is more,
what a plague
to the store
was that man
when he can
steal a can
or some more.

 

No doubt
in brief,
without
the thief,
our woe
will grow.
We’ve no
relief.

 

What are some of your favorite poems? Leave us a comment and let us know.

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Comments on: "Favorite Poems" (2)

  1. Michele said:

    Another reason I wish I could read (and speak!) French.

    I didn’t know about Victor Hugo’s poetry — this reiterates for me that creative souls create in many forms.

    What a cool poem! It reminds me of Shape Poems, but more complex.

    • Michele, there are lots of “foreign language” (to me) poets I’d enjoy, if only I knew the language. I dislike reading poetry in translation, so I haven’t read much poetry in anything but English and French.

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