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Le Pont Mirabeau

Guillaume Apollinaire

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Added by: mona
The poem is nice. He compares a river to time (that´s nothing new, it´s almost too obvious), he thinks of a past love and that the past is gone for ever, just as the waters are never the same.
It´s nicely written but to me it sounds more like a French "chanson". Semi- intellectual, sentimental.
I can imagine Jaques Brel or Edith Piaf singing it... but that´s all.
Added by: Chad O\'Farrell
How does Apollinaire express his empathy with others in "zone"?
Added by: Dan
Well, it's not so much that the poem is flawed. There are, however a couple things that hinder it. First, the meter of the poem is slightly too inconsistent. Also, the major problems lie not within the poem, itself, but within the fact that French sucks.
"English Sucks"?
Added by: Samuel Biagetti
This is one of the first poems that I ever read in French and it blew me away. The beauty of its simple expression of sorrow and resignation amazed me; I read it enough to memorize it, and am glad that I did so.

The idea of comparing time to a river flowing may not seem terribly original, but to me it is also comparing love itself to that river, the way that it flows with such force, and then just passes right by like it was never there. The speaker is not just frustrated by inability to return to the past, but by the knowledge that whatever love they once had cannot not be rekindled, it is dead ("L'amour s'en va, comme cette eau courante . . ."). It impresses me that Apollinaire can combine time, love and the flowing river all together in that way, and not make the poem seem to be crowded or stepping on its own toes: "Sous le Pont Mirabeau coule la Seine / Et nos amours / Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne . . ."

The inexorable march of the poem, returning again and again to the refrain with its image of evening bells sounding, never interrupted by punctuation, and ending with the last line repeating the first, but this time like a door shutting, echoes exquisitely the poem's sentiment of unstoppable passing and of irretrievability.

My favorite part is the last stanza -- or verse -- when the rhyming sounds of the first stanza return, but the short, terse phrases and the dismissive stance finally give us a hint of anger amidst the melancholy, just before it all ends. The only part that confuses me is the second stanza, which is the only part where the speaker is addressing someone; why do they do that, and just what are they inviting them to do? Whatever it is, the image is beautiful.

Now, I'm a person who enjoys French very much, and I can understand if others don't. But is it not funny that this is a site that uses English almost exclusively, that has wonderful works of poetry in English, but people who use it are willing to denigrate a work in French simply because it's in French? Isn't one bound to miss quite a lot of potentially inspiring art that way? What I mean is, what if someone posted on one of the poems in English, that "English sucks"? What would you think of that? Doesn't it seem kind or irrelevant to whether the poem is good?
Added by: Liz
I must agree with Dan. I have been studying French for six years and have come to the conclusion that it sucks. The poem is lovely, I am quite fond of my translation of it, but it is hindered by the French. Apolinaire's use of comparisons and anitirhesis is wonderful. "Et comme l"Espérance est violente" is my favorite line. But French sucks.
French is wonderful!!
Added by: Jan
All I have to say is that the poem is wonderful..and so is French. Those of you who dare say it sucks, no matter how long you've been studying it, obviously suck at it yourself!
Added by: Anne
I agree with Samuel. For one thing, the language in which it is written doesn't matter; it is the use of the langue that matters. The word choice, the syntax, all of that. Also, it is blatant and opinionated (and undeniably ignorant) statements like that that give Americans a bad reputation. What we've failed to see is that the French attitude of foreigners are bad (which is horribly simplified and over-generalized) is merely a reflection of our own superiority complex. But even so, that's off topic. My point is, this is a truly beautiful poem.
How can you say ''French Sucks''?
Added by: Ben
Liz, you've stated outright that you think "The poem is lovely," which without doubt, it IS! but no translation, and dare I say not even yours, will EVER do this poem justice.

One of the key points of the poem is not just the physical imagery (which is powerful anyway), but the way in which the flow of the language personifies the flow of the river.

The link below is a translation, and in fact not a bad one at all, but it's lost the almost ebbing tide of Apollinaire's Seine.

Added by: POUTO
Uhmm is the french sucks, so the english language should remove 60% of his words, course they ares french mostly!

our maybe the french sucks because they kicked dubya ass for a while, so ut's always a pleasure, and we'll not avoid the pleasure to kick ass further!

that's life, not only the french is 60% of english language but thay still have 500 nukes heads to point on yours dick's heads!

vous nous faites beaucoup rire, vraiment!
sorry to keep going on that french sucks comment..
Added by: Helen
yes of course the language of baudelaire, rimbaud, prévert, flaubert, ponge, and verlaine sucks. what an obvious and informed conclusion. and just as a side note, the beautiful and far superior english we speak would be pretty unpleasant to the ears if the influence of the french language hadn't softened it. i would suggest the next time you post something about one of the most historically beautiful languages sucking, you don't do it on a comment page for an appollinaire poem that only francophiles would go to.

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