BARBARA (by Jacques Prévert)

(from the French of Jacques Prévert)

Remember Barbara
The rain teeming down in Brest that day
And you striding smiling
Beaming streaming with water
Through the rain
Remember Barbara
The rain teeming down in Brest
And I passed you in rue de Siam
You smiled
And me I smiled too
Remember Barbara
I who didn’t know you
You who didn’t know me
Remember
Remember at least that day
Never forget
A man taking shelter in a doorway
And he called your name
Barbara
And you ran across to him in the rain
Streaming with water beaming delighted
And threw yourself into his arms
Remember that Barbara
And don’t mind me if I address you in this familiar way
I talk like this to all those I love
Even if I only ever saw them once
I talk like this to all those who love each other
Even strangers
Remember Barbara
Never forget
That right and happy rain
On your happy face
On that happy town
That rain on the sea
On the arsenal
On the Ouessant boat
Oh Barbara
What stupidity the war
What has become of you now
In that rain of iron
Of fire of steel of blood
And he who hugged you in his arms
With so much love
Is he dead disappeared or still alive
Oh Barbara
The rain is teeming down in Brest
As it did before
But it is not the same and all is ruined
It is a rain of terrible grief and desolation
It is not even any longer
That storm of steel of blood
Merely clouds
Starving like dogs
Dogs washed away
In the river of water falling on Brest
To decay far away
Far far away from Brest
Of which nothing is left.

AND WHILE WE’RE IN BREST IN THE 1940s, how about this abomination?

German soldiers entering a Soldatenbordell in Brest, France (1940). The building is a former synagogue.
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PARIS AT NIGHT (by Jacques Prévert)

(translated from the French of Jacques Prévert)

Three matches struck one by one in the night
The first to see your face in its entirety
The second to see your eyes
The last to see your mouth
And the darkness all around to remind me of all this
As I hold you in my arms.

THIS LOVE (by Jacques Prévert)

(from the French of Jacques Prévert)

This love
So violent
So fragile
So tender
So desperate
This love
Beautiful as day
And bad as the weather
When the weather is bad
This love so true
This love so beautiful
So happy
So joyous
And so pathetic
Shaking with fear like a child in the dark
And so sure of itself
Like a man at peace in the middle of the night
This love that scares the others
Which makes them talk
Which makes them pale
This love watched out for
Because we watched out for it
Hunted wounded trampled finished off denied forgotten
Because we hunted wounded trampled finished it off denied and forgot it
This whole love
Still so alive
And all sunlit
It is yours
It is mine
That which has been
This thing always new
And which hasn’t changed
As real as a plant
As trembling as a bird
As hot as vibrant as summer
We can both of us
Leave and come back
We can forget
And then go back to sleep
We wake suffer grow old
We sleep again
We dream of death
We rise smile and laugh
And feel young again
Our love remains
Stubborn as a donkey
Vibrant as desire
Cruel as a reminder
Stupid as regrets
Tender as a memory
Cold as marble
Beautiful as day
Fragile as a baby
It watches us with a smile
And it speaks to us without saying anything
And me I listen to it and tremble
And I cry
I cry for you
I cry for me
I beg you
For you for me and for all those who love
And have made love
Yes I cry to it
For you for me and for all the others
That I don’t know
Stay there
There where you are
There where you were the other time
Stay there
Don’t move
Don’t go away
We who are loved
We forgot you
Don’t you forget us
We’ve had only you on this earth
Don’t let us become cold
Always more distant
And no matter where
Give us a sign of life
Much later in a corner of the wood
In the forest of memory
Appear suddenly
Give us your hand
And save us.

BREAKFAST (by Jacques Prévert)

(from the French of Jacques Prévert)

He put the coffee
In the cup
He put the milk
In the cup of coffee
He put the sugar
In the milk coffee
With the little spoon
He stirred
He drank the milk coffee
He put down the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit
A cigarette
He blew smoke-rings
With the smoke
He put the ash
In the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He got up
He put
His hat on his head
He put
His raincoat on
Because it was raining
And he left
In the rain
Without a word
Without looking at me
And me I took
My head in my hands
And I wept.