Sunflowers, Not Facing the Sun

Photo by Robert Doisneau, circa 1960

 
 

“I stand tall
As gracious as one could be
Blooming to my best
As slender as it touches my being
Everyone else is facing the sun
Bending towards its unfathomable galore
They and I are both undoubtedly
Grown on the benevolence of life’s essence
The brighter side mercilessly feeding desires unbound
By daunting the “courage to know” with each spin
Though, I am not able to face the sun the way they do
Yet, I learn from the knowledge bred within me
Beyond achievement markers, but an adverse ability
An opportunity to exercise my special self
From the cherubic attire of my blessed soul
To the unfathomable mystery the drape of this world hides
That I, by not facing the sun
Hunt the gems in the milieu of the human existence”

Annie Ali

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The Car That Melted

La voiture fondue (The Car That Melted), Robert Doisneau, 1944

 
 

“…le soleil est un citron vert
Et la Misère
dans sa voiture vide
traînée par trois enfants trop blonds
traverse les décombres
et s’en va vers la mer…”

Jacques Prévert

Cheveux Noirs (fragment)

 
 

___________________________

 
 

The sun is a green lemon
And the misery
in its empty car
trailed by three overly blonde children
crossing the ruins
and marching to the sea…”

The Straight and Narrow Road

Children’s Parade, Robert Doisneau, c. 1945

 

LE DROIT CHEMIN

“A chaque kilomètre
chaque année
des viei
llards au front borné
indiquent aux enfants la route
d’un geste de ciment armé.”

Jacques Prévert

 

_______________________

 

“At each mile
each year
old men with closed faces
point out the road to children
with gestures of reinforced concrete.”

For You My Love

Photo by Robert Doisneau, c. 1955

 
 

POUR TOI MON AMOUR

“Je suis alle au marche aux oiseaux
Et j’ai achete des oiseaux
Pour toi
mon amour
Je suis alle au marche aux fleurs
Et j’ai achete des fleurs
Pour toi
mon amour
Je suis alle au marche a la ferraille
Et j’ai achete des chaines
De lourdes chaines
Pour toi
mon amour
Et puis je suis alle au marche aux esclaves
Et je t’ai cherchee
Mais je ne t’ai pas trouvee
mon amour”

Jacques Prévert

 
 

_____________________________

 
 

“I went to the market, where they sell birds
and I bought some birds
for you
my love
I went to the market, where they sell flowers
and I bought some flowers
for you
my love
I went to the market, where they sell chains
and I bought some chains
heavy chains
for you
my love
And then I went to the slave market
and I looked for you
but I did not find you there
my love”

The Dead Leaves

Les Concierges Rue du Dragon. Robert Doisneau, 1946

 
 

LES FEUILLES MORTES

Oh! je voudrais tant que tu te souviennes
Des jours heureux où nous étions amis
En ce temps-là la vie était plus belle,
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié…
Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Et le vent du nord les emporte
Dans la nuit froide de l’oubli.
Tu vois, je n’ai pas oublié
La chanson que tu me chantais.

REFRAIN:

C’est une chanson qui nous ressemble
Toi, tu m’aimais et je t’aimais
Et nous vivions tous deux ensemble
Toi qui m’aimais, moi qui t’aimais
Mais la vie sépare ceux qui s’aiment
Tout doucement, sans faire de bruit
Et la mer efface sur le sable
Les pas des amants désunis.

Les feuilles mortes se ramassent à la pelle,
Les souvenirs et les regrets aussi
Mais mon amour silencieux et fidèle
Sourit toujours et remercie la vie
Je t’aimais tant, tu étais si jolie,
Comment veux-tu que je t’oublie?
En ce temps-là, la vie était plus belle
Et le soleil plus brûlant qu’aujourd’hui
Tu étais ma plus douce amie
Mais je n’ai que faire des regrets
Et la chanson que tu chantais
Toujours, toujours je l’entendrai!

REFRAIN

 
 

____________________________

 
 

Oh, I would like you so much to remember
Those happy days when we were friends, and how
Life in those times was more lovely and tender,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
Dead leaves are gathering as in December
You see how one never forgets…
Dead leaves are gathering as in December,
Just like the memories and the regrets.
And then the north wind comes and sweeps them
Into oblivion’s icy night.
You see how I never forgot
That old song that you sang for me.

REFRAIN:

A song like us, birds of a feather,
You loving me, me loving you,
And we lived happily together,
You loving me, me loving you.
But life tears apart gentle lovers
Who quietly obey their heart,
And the sea invades the sand and covers
The footsteps of those torn apart.

Dead leaves are gathering, dead leaves are piling
Up just like memories and like regrets.
But still my love goes on quietly smiling
Thankful for life and for all that it gets.
I loved you so, you were ever so lovely,
How can I forget? Tell me how!
Life in those times was more sweet and beguiling,
Even the sun shone more brightly than now.
You were my most sweet friend and lover,
But regret just isn’t my thing,
And I’ll keep hearing all the time
The old song that you used to sing.

REFRAIN

 
 

Some of Prévert’s poems, such as Les Feuilles mortes (Autumn Leaves), La grasse matinée (Sleeping in), Les bruits de la nuit (The sounds of the night), and Chasse à l’enfant (The hunt for the child) were set to music by Joseph Kosma—and in some cases by Germaine Tailleferre of Les Six, Christiane Verger, and Hanns Eisler.

Les feuilles mortes (literally The Dead Leaves) with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, and the Hungarian title is Hulló levelek (Falling Leaves) Wa introduced by Yves Montand with Irène Joachim in the film Les Portes de la nuit (Marcel Carné, 1946).

It is a much-recorded popular song. The American songwriter Johnny Mercer wrote English lyrics in 1947, and Jo Stafford was among the first to perform this version. Autumn Leaves became a pop standard and a jazz standard in both languages, both as an instrumental and with a singer. There is also a Japanese version called Kareha (枯葉) sung by Nat King Cole in his Japanese album version and 高英男 (Hideo Kou).

It has been recorded by Frank Sinatra, Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, Juliette Gréco, Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Chet Baker, Eric Clapton, Iggy Pop, Andrea Bocelli, among others.Serge Gainsbourg paid tribute to Les feuilles mortes in his own song La chanson de Prévert.

The film Autumn Leaves (Robert Aldrich, 1956), starring Joan Crawford, featured over the title sequence the song as sung by Nat King Cole.

 

To listen to an altered version of this song performed by Michael David Rosenberg (better known by his stage name Passenger), please take a gander at The Genealogy of Style‘s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Genealogy-of-Style/597542157001228?ref=hl

Pater Noster

Photographs by Robert Doisneau

 
 

“Notre Père qui êtes aux cieux
Restez-y Et nous nous resterons sur la terrre
Qui est quelquefois si jolie
Avec ses mystères de New York
Et puis ses mystères de Paris
Qui valent bien celui de la Trinité
Avec son petit canal de l’Ourcq
Sa grande muraille de Chine
Sa rivière de Morlaix
Ses bêtises de Cambrai
Avec son Océan Pacifique
Et ses deux bassins aux Tuilleries

Avec ses bons enfants et ses mauvais sujets
Avec toutes les merveilles du monde
Qui sont là
Simplement sur la terre
Offertes à tout le monde
Éparpillées
Émerveillées elles-même d’être de telles merveilles
Et qui n’osent se l’avouer
Comme une jolie fille nue qui n’ose se montrer
Avec les épouvantables malheurs du monde
Qui sont légion
Avec leurs légionnaires
Aves leur tortionnaires
Avec les maîtres de ce monde
Les maîtres avec leurs prêtres leurs traîtres et leurs reîtres
Avec les saisons
Avec les années
Avec les jolies filles et avec les vieux cons
Avec la paille de la misère pourrissant dans l’acier des canons.”

Jacques Prévert

 

___________________________________

 

“Our Father who art in heaven
Stay there
And we’ll stay here on earth
Which is sometimes so pretty
With its mysteries of New York
And its mysteries of Paris
At least as good as that of the Trinity
With its little canal at Ourcq
Its great wall of China
Its river at Morlaix
Its candy canes
With its Pacific Ocean
And its two basins in the Tuileries

With its good children and bad people
With all the wonders of the world
Which are here
Simply on the earth
Offered to everyone
Strewn about
Wondering at the wonder of themselves
And daring not avow it
As a naked pretty girl dares not show herself
With the world’s outrageous misfortunes
Which are legion
With legionaries
With torturers
With the masters of this world
The masters with their priests their traitors and their troops
With the seasons
With the years
With the pretty girls and with the old bastards
With the straw of misery rotting in the steel of cannons.”

The Dunce

Photographs by Robert Doisneau

 
 

LE CANCRE

Il dit non avec la tête
Mais il dit oui avec le cœur
Il dit oui à ce qu’il aime
Il dit non au professeur

Il est debout
On le questionne
Et tous les problèmes sont posés
Soudain le fou rire le prend

Et il efface tout
Les chiffres et les mots
Les dates et les noms
Les phrases et les pièges

Et malgré les menaces du maître
Sous les huées des enfants prodiges
Avec des craies de toutes les couleurs
Sur le tableau noir du malheur
Il dessine le visage du bonheur

Jacques Prévert

 
 

___________________________________

 
 

He says no with his head
But he says yes with his heart
He says yes to what he loves
He says no to the teacher
He stands
He is questioned
And all the problems are posed
Sudden laughter seizes him
And he erases all
The words and figures
Names and dates
Sentences and snares
And despite the teacher’s threats
To the jeers of infant prodigies
With chalk of every color
On the blackboard of unhappiness
He draws the face of bliss.

Vagabonds

Photograph by Robert Doisneau

 
 

Pitoyable frère ! Que d’atroces veillées je lui dus ! “Je ne me saisissais pas fervemment de cette entreprise. Je m’étais joué de son infirmité. Par ma faute nous retournerions en exil, en esclavage.” Il me supposait un guignon et une innocence très-bizarres, et il ajoutait des raisons inquiétantes.
Je répondais en ricanant à ce satanique docteur, et finissais par gagner la fenêtre. Je créais, par delà la campagne traversée par des bandes de musique rare, les fantômes du futur luxe nocturne.
Après cette distraction vaguement hygiénique, je m’étendais sur une paillasse. Et, presque chaque nuit, aussitôt endormi, le pauvre frère se levait, la bouche pourrie, les yeux arrachés, — tel qu’il se rêvait — et me tirait dans la salle en hurlant son songe de chagrin idiot.
J’avais en effet, en toute sincérité d’esprit, pris l’engagement de le rendre à son état primitif de fils du soleil, — et nous errions, nourris du vin des cavernes et du biscuit de la route, moi pressé de trouver le lieu et la formule.

 
 

______________________________________________________

 
 

Pitiful brother! What atrocious vigils I owe to him! ‘I failed to seize on this venture ardently. I made light of his infirmity. It would be my fault if we return to exile, to slavery.’ He credited me with strange ill-luck and innocence, and added disquieting reasons.

I’d reply by jeering at this satanic scholar, and end by approaching the window. I created, beyond the landscape traversed by lines of rare music, phantoms of future nocturnal luxury.

After this vaguely hygienic diversion, I would stretch out on the straw mattress. And, almost every night, as soon as I was asleep, the poor brother would rise, with rotten mouth, and blinded eyes – such as he dreamed himself – and drag me across the room howling his dream of idiot sorrow!

I had in fact, in all sincerity, pledged to restore him to his primitive state as child of the sun – and we wandered, nourished on the wine of caves, and the biscuit of the road, myself impatient to find the place and the formula.

Arthur Rimbaud

To You

 
 

WHOEVER you are, I fear you are walking the walks of dreams,
I fear these supposed realities are to melt from under your feet and hands;
Even now, your features, joys, speech, house, trade, manners, troubles, follies, costume, crimes, dissipate away from you,
Your true Soul and Body appear before me,
They stand forth out of affairs—out of commerce, shops, law, science, work, forms, clothes, the house, medicine, print, buying, selling, eating, drinking, suffering, dying.

 
 

 
 

Whoever you are, now I place my hand upon you, that you be my poem;
I whisper with my lips close to your ear,
I have loved many women and men, but I love none better than you.

 
 


 
 

O I have been dilatory and dumb;
I should have made my way straight to you long ago;
I should have blabb’d nothing but you, I should have chanted nothing but you.

 
 

 
 

I will leave all, and come and make the hymns of you;
None have understood you, but I understand you;
None have done justice to you—you have not done justice to yourself;
None but have found you imperfect—I only find no imperfection in you;
None but would subordinate you—I only am he who will never consent to subordinate you;
I only am he who places over you no master, owner, better, God, beyond what waits intrinsically in yourself.

 
 

 
 

Painters have painted their swarming groups, and the centre figure of all;
From the head of the centre figure spreading a nimbus of gold-color’d light;
But I paint myriads of heads, but paint no head without its nimbus of gold-color’d light;
From my hand, from the brain of every man and woman it streams, effulgently flowing forever.

 
 

 
 

O I could sing such grandeurs and glories about you!
You have not known what you are—you have slumber’d upon yourself all your life;
Your eye-lids have been the same as closed most of the time;
What you have done returns already in mockeries;
(Your thrift, knowledge, prayers, if they do not return in mockeries, what is their return?)

 
 

 
 

The mockeries are not you;
Underneath them, and within them, I see you lurk;
I pursue you where none else has pursued you;
Silence, the desk, the flippant expression, the night, the accustom’d routine, if these conceal you from others, or from yourself, they do not conceal you from me;
The shaved face, the unsteady eye, the impure complexion, if these balk others, they do not balk me,
The pert apparel, the deform’d attitude, drunkenness, greed, premature death, all these I part aside.

 
 

There is no endowment in man or woman that is not tallied in you;
There is no virtue, no beauty, in man or woman, but as good is in you;
No pluck, no endurance in others, but as good is in you;
No pleasure waiting for others, but an equal pleasure waits for you.

 
 

 
 

As for me, I give nothing to any one, except I give the like carefully to you;
I sing the songs of the glory of none, not God, sooner than I sing the songs of the glory of you.

Whoever you are! claim your own at any hazard!
These shows of the east and west are tame, compared to you;
These immense meadows—these interminable rivers—you are immense and interminable as they;
These furies, elements, storms, motions of Nature, throes of apparent dissolution—you are he or she who is master or mistress over them,
Master or mistress in your own right over Nature, elements, pain, passion, dissolution.

 
 

 
 

The hopples fall from your ankles—you find an unfailing sufficiency;
Old or young, male or female, rude, low, rejected by the rest, whatever you are promulges itself;
Through birth, life, death, burial, the means are provided, nothing is scanted;
Through angers, losses, ambition, ignorance, ennui, what you are picks its way.

Walt Whitman

 
 

Photos by Robert Doisneau

Bravo, Paris Exposition!

Boules à neige (Snow Globes). Photo by Robert Doisneau, 1949

Snow globes appeared at the Paris Universal Expo of 1878, and by 1879 at least five or more companies were producing snow globes and selling them throughout Europe. In 1889, a snow globe containing a model of the newly built Eiffel Tower was produced to commemorate the International Exposition in Paris, which marked the centenary of the French Revolution. Snow globes became popular in England during the Victorian era and, in the early 1920s, crossed the Atlantic to the United States of America where they became a popular collectors item.

 
 

“Add to your show, before you close it, France,
With all the rest, visible, concrete, temples, towers, goods, ma-
chines and ores,
Our sentiment wafted from many million heart-throbs, ethereal
but solid,
(We grand-sons and great-grand-sons do not forget your grand-
sires,)
From fifty Nations and nebulous Nations, compacted, sent over-
sea to-day,
America’s applause, love, memories and good-will.”

Walt Whitman