Et Le Temps Passait Vite


The second exchange in the EU Comenius Project is to Paris, France.  Throughout the twentieth century, France has been a dominant force in the development of European Culture.  Essential contributions and developments have come from not just literature, but all the arts from the novel to film and philosophy.  For instance-Theatre of the Absurd, Cubism and Surrealism, Structuralism and Post-Structuralism.   French post-war poetry intersects with all these diverse art forms and intellectual modes. 

Aime Cesaire living in Martinique, took the French language, refused to be colonised and instead utilised the language to express the political ramifications of colonalism poetically.  He used high French literary French language with Martinican colloquialisms.   This gave him the name of the patriarchal father of the island which he rebuked for way in which the paternity of Caribbean literature in French was being imposed on him.  His language is against the ideology of colonialism by inventing a language that refuses assimilation to a dominant cultural norm, a language that teaches resistance and liberation.

Cesire talks of the European experience in a far off land that is instantly recognisable.  As I walked through the cobbled streets, lit by festive lights, laughter and an annual return to hope in Salzburg, I returned home to read Notebook Of A Return to My Native Land, and saw what I had just seen, through his eyes.   Here is the elegant extract:

It was first announced, was Christmas, by a tingling of desires, a thirst for new tenderness, a budding of fuzzy dreams, then it had suddenly taken off in the violet frou-frou of its great wings of joy, and then breathtakingly, it would fall back down over the town and burst open the life of shacks like an over-ripe pomegranate.

Il s'etait annonce d'abord Noel par un picotement de desirs, une soif de tendresses neuves un bourgennement de reves imprecis, puis il s'etait envole tout a coup dans le froufrou violet des ses grande ailes de joie, et alors c'etait parmi le bourg sa vertigineuse retombee qui eclatait la vie des cases comme une grenade trop mure.

Aimé Césaire Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (1947) Notebook of a Return to My native Land

Pomegranate is a salient symbol in religious texts and artefacts such as the Bible in 1 Kings 7:13-22, where the fruit is depicted on the capitals of the two pillars which stood in front of the temple King Solomon built in Jerusalem.  They are on ancient Judean coins and Torah scrolls as well, representing wisdom and knowledge.  I like to think that Cesaire was implying that unification and joy, lead to wisdom and knowledge; even in such simple gatherings of festive excitement such as these; finding shimmers of spirituality in little flourishes of ebullient moods.

To finish, since the Comenius project is all about the youth connecting, what better way than to connect through a universal theme such as love through a very specific French way: a rich recipe.  This poem, from a 17 year old French girl, so perfectly expresses the imperfections and complexities with a je ne sais quoi.  I hope it gives you as much delight as it did for me.

Recette Amoureuse

Recipe for Love

Take a girl, take a boy
Mix into a wild passion
Leave the fire lit
Sprinkle with laughter and complications
Put tear drops of joy
and tear drops of disarray
Add a pinch of trust
And a spoonful of hope
Leave to mix all together
And pour over a rich sauce of kisses

Prenez une fille, prenez un garcon
Melangez jusquà la folle passion
Laissez le feu allume Saupoudrez de rires et de complicites 
Mettez-y des larmes de joie 
Et des larmes de desarroi
Ajoutez une pincee de confiance 
Et une cuilleree d'esperance
Laissez dorer le tout 
Et versez la sauce aux bisous

Maxime, France, 2004


Yes, there is a lot, French Culture has enriched us with and ty for sharing the beautiful poem of this mature teenage girl with us, Jessica - Michael Großpietsch