Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Café des Artistes

Les Coquelicots

Ils éclatent dans le blé, comme une armée de petits soldats; mais d'un bien plus beau rouge, ils sont inoffensifs.

Leur épée, c'est un épi.

C'est le vent qui les fait courir, et chaque coquelicot s'attarde, quand il veut, au bord du sillon, avec le bleuet, sa payse.

Jules Renard, Histoires Naturelles. 19th C

[The Poppies

They burst out of the wheat, like an army of little soldiers; but of a much more beautiful red, they are harmless.

Their sword, it's a wheat-ear.

It's the wind that makes them run, and each poppy lingers, when it wants, at the edge of the furrow, with the cornflower.]

Found in a book on a shelf at Le Café des Artistes, Paray-le-Monial. I had just arrived in town and was looking for coffee at about 10:30 when I stepped into this tiny cultural café where you can read from the books lining the walls, and attend readings and piano concerts. It was just before story time. Five children sipped lurid red and green drinks in wine glasses, their adults had coffee, and we all ate little cakes. I hadn't known there was going to be any kind of performance, and I was doubly delighted to hear the beautiful words of the beginning of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's Le Petit Prince. I was as enchanted as the littlest child, right up to the part where the Little Prince takes out of his pocket his "treasure," the drawing that the narrator has made for him of a sheep, so that he can admire it. This after much dramatic emphasis on the detail that the narrator had been discouraged by grown ups at the age of six (SIX ANS! The little blonde girl in pink wriggled with recognition and anticipation) from his career as a painter, and became a pilot instead.

[I went back in the evening for the "spectacle" of piano and readings of works by Jean Cocteau, but I was the only spectator this Tuesday night so the show didn't go on. Instead, among other things, we talked about the meaning of "sa payse" above. After suggesting some possible meanings and consulting a literary dictionary, the story reader (and would-be evening performer) came to the conclusion that it's an old word not in current usage. I'm not exactly sure what it means.]

Paray-le-Monial, 2086 km

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