Sunday 10 January 2016

Red peppers on a white wall: in need of sunshine and warmth during the cold Midwinter!

This poem by Jacques Prévert, translated in English, is like all his poetry deceptively simple. I like its middle stanzas, which are digressions (and, in a way, do I search a justification for mine?). But, most of all, I like the colours: whitewashed walls and red peppers hanging, the blue, blue sky, and the sea not very far with its constant roll of waves and light fringe of foam, the froth of the frock of the woman, the Mediterranean blue, the sand, the heat, and the shadows, the coolness of the house. House. Peppers. Walls. Sun. You. I. You and I only are defined. The rest are entities. You. I.


Into my house you will come
Actually this isn’t my house
I don’t know whose it is
I came in one day just like that
There was no one here
Just some red peppers hanging on a white wall
I stayed in this house a long time
No one came in
But every day and every day
I waited for you

I wasn’t doing anything
At least nothing serious
Sometimes in the morning
I would let out animal cries
I bawled like a donkey
With all of my might
And it pleased me to do so
And then I played with my feet
Feet are very smart
They take you very far
When you want to go very far
And then when you don’t want to leave
They stay there they keep you company
And when there is music they dance
You can’t dance without them
Just be stupid like man is so often
As stupid as his feet happy as a clam
The clam isn’t happy
It’s only happy when it’s happy
And sad when it’s sad or neither happy nor sad
How do you know that it’s a clam
Honestly it’s not really called that
It’s man who called this mollusk that
Clam clam clam clam

Names are so weird
Martin Hugo Victor is his first name
Bonaparte Napoleon is his first name
Why like that and not like this
A troop of bonapartes pass through the desert
The Emperor is named Dromedary
He has the body of a horse and some travelling luggage
At a far gallop a man who only has three first names
He’s called Tim-Tam-Tom and doesn’t have a last name
A little further still there is no one that matters
Much further still there is nothing that matters

And then what can you do
Into my house you will come
I think about other things but I only think about this
And once you have taken off all your clothes
And you stand there nude motionless with your red mouth
Like the red peppers hanging on the white wall
And then you will lie down and I will lie down next to you
Into my house that is not my house you will come.
Jacques Prévert

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