French Poetry – Que serais-je sans toi?

Note: Although this seems like a very simple poem, it helped me reinforce the pronunciation of simple connecting words like…le (loh), ce (say), qui (kee), qu’il (keel), que (ka), qu’un (kan), au (oh),  cette (set), de (doh).

We also get a consistent diet of how to pronounce “oi”…toi (twa), bois (bwa); the “ay” sounds of the French “ais”…désormais (day-sor-may), “ait”…fait (fay), and many other French pronunciations.

The English voice in my head wants to pronounce these words with English phonetics, instead of French phonetics, which is personally the biggest challenge to my own verbal fluency and listening comprehension. The poem also has several liaisons…cet enfer (say-tahn-fare), les étoiles (lay-say-twa), tout appris (too-tah-pree)…for more on liaison (notice the spelling), go here:

http://french.about.com/library/pronunciation/bl-liaisons-L.htm

Louis Aragon, Le roman inachevé

Que serais-je sans toi ?
Que serais-je sans toi qui vins à ma rencontre.
Que serais-je sans toi qu’un cœur au bois dormant.
Que cette heure arrêtée au cadran de la montre.
Que serais-je sans toi que ce balbutiement.
J’ai tout appris de toi sur les choses humaines
Et j’ai vu désormais le monde à ta façon.
J’ai tout appris de toi comme on boit aux fontaines
Comme on lit dans le ciel les étoiles lointaines
Comme au passant qui chante, on reprend sa chanson.
J’ai tout appris de toi jusqu’au sens du frisson.
J’ai tout appris de toi pour ce qui me concerne.
Qu’il fait jour à midi, qu’un ciel peut être bleu.
Que le bonheur n’est pas un quinquet de taverne.
Tu m’as pris par la main, dans cet enfer moderne
Où l’homme ne sait plus ce que c’est qu’être deux.
Tu m’as pris par la main comme un amant heureux.
Qui parle de bonheur a souvent les yeux tristes.
N’est-ce pas un sanglot que la déconvenue
Une corde brisée aux doigts de guitariste
Et pourtant je vous dis que le bonheur existe.
Ailleurs que dans le rêve, ailleurs que dans les nues.
Terre, terre, voici ses rades inconnues.

Louis Aragon, The unfinished novel

What would I be without you who came to meet me.
What would I be without you but a sleeping heart.
But this hour stopped on a clock face.
What would I be without you but this beginning.
I learned everything from you on human things.
And since then I saw the world your way.
I learned everything from you as one drinks from fountains
As one reads in the sky faraway stars.
As with the passerby who sings, one sings along.
I learned everything from you up to the meaning of shivers.
I learned everything from you that concerns me.
That it is daylight at noon, that the sky can be blue
That happiness is not a tavern’s oil lamp.
You took me by the hand, in this modern hell
Where man does not know anymore what it is to be two.
You took me by the hand like a happy lover.
Who talks of happiness often has sad eyes.
Isn’t disappointment a sob
A broken string in the guitar player’s fingers
And still I am telling you that happiness exists.
Somewhere else than in dreams. Somewhere else than in heaven/the clouds.
Earth, earth, here are its unknown harbors.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s