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Strange foreigners...Prévert


NormanH

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Although written in 1951 this still has something to say:

Etranges étrangers.

Kabyles de la Chapelle et des quais de Javel

hommes des pays loin

cobayes des colonies

Doux petits musiciens

soleils adolescents de la porte d’Italie

Boumians de la porte de Saint-Ouen

Apatrides d’Aubervilliers

brûleurs des grandes ordures de la ville de Paris

ébouillanteurs des bêtes trouvées mortes sur pied au beau milieu des rues

Tunisiens de Grenelle

embauchés débauchés

manœuvres désœuvrés

Polacks du Marais du Temple des Rosiers

Cordonniers de Cordoue

 soutiers de Barcelone

pêcheurs des Baléares ou bien du Finistère

rescapés de Franco

et déportés de France et de Navarre

pour avoir défendu en souvenir de la vôtre

la liberté des autres

Esclaves noirs de Fréjus

tiraillés et parqués

au bord d’une petite mer

où peu vous vous baignez

Esclaves noirs de Fréjus

qui évoquez chaque jour

dans les locaux disciplinaires

avec une vieille boîte à cigares

et quelques bouts de fil de fer

tous les échos de vos villages

tous les oiseaux de vos forêts

et ne venez dans la capitale

que pour fêter au pas cadencé

la prise de la Bastille le quatorze juillet

Enfants du Sénégal

dépatriés expatriés et naturalisés

Enfants indochinois

jongleurs aux innocents couteaux

qui vendiez autrefois aux terrasses des cafés

de jolis dragons d’or faits de papier plié

Enfants trop tôt grandis et si vite en allés

qui dormez aujourd’hui de retour au pays

le visage dans la terre

et des bombes incendiaires labourant vos rizières On vous a renvoyé

la monnaie de vos papiers dorés

on vous a retourné

vos petits couteaux dans le dos

Étranges étrangers

Vous êtes de la ville

vous êtes de sa vie

même si mal en vivez

même si vous en mourez.

 Jacques PRÉVERT   Grand bal du printemps

(La Guilde du Livre,1951 ; Éditions Gallimard,1976 ) 

Hear him read it here:

http://www.paris-a-nu.fr/etranges-etrangers-de-jacques-prevert/

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I have read a few of his poems or heard songs set to his poems.  He is always perspicacious and often sensual, sometimes even sexual but always in a sensitive way.

But I often need to read everything a several times to arrive at the meaning; he is subtle[:)]

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And here is our very own Rupert Brooke, mock mockingly (sorry about the only ready phrase to come to mind) the strangeness of strangers[:D]

God! I will pack, and take a train,

And get me to England once again!

For England's the one land, I know,

Where men with Splendid Hearts may go;

And Cambridgeshire, of all England,

The shire for Men who Understand;

And of THAT district I prefer

The lovely hamlet Grantchester.

For Cambridge people rarely smile,

Being urban, squat, and packed with guile;

And Royston men in the far South

Are black and fierce and strange of mouth;

At Over they fling oaths at one,

And worse than oaths at Trumpington,

And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,

And there's none in Harston under thirty,

And folks in Shelford and those parts

Have twisted lips and twisted hearts,

And Barton men make Cockney rhymes,

And Coton's full of nameless crimes,

And things are done you'd not believe

At Madingley on Christmas Eve.

Strong men have run for miles and miles,

When one from Cherry Hinton smiles;

Strong men have blanched, and shot their wives,

Rather than send them to St. Ives;

Strong men have cried like babes, bydam,

To hear what happened at Babraham.

But Grantchester! ah, Grantchester!

There's peace and holy quiet there,

Great clouds along pacific skies,

And men and women with straight eyes,

Lithe children lovelier than a dream,

A bosky wood, a slumbrous stream,

And little kindly winds that creep

Round twilight corners, half asleep.

In Grantchester their skins are white;

They bathe by day, they bathe by night;

The women there do all they ought;

The men observe the Rules of Thought.

They love the Good; they worship Truth;

They laugh uproariously in youth;

(And when they get to feeling old,

They up and shoot themselves, I'm told) . . .

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I love these 2 lines:

And Ditton girls are mean and dirty,

And there's none in Harston under thirty

I'll tell you why, Loiseau......it's because they are forever associated in my mind with Dirty Gerty from Number Thirty which, if I remember rightly, was a line from Sooty and Sweep[:D]  I know, getting senile, moi....

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