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Marie_Laurencin,_1909,_Réunion_à_la_campagne_(Apollinaire_et_ses_amis),_oil_on_canvas,_130_x_194_cm,_Musée_Picasso,_Paris (1)

Marie Laurencin, 1909, Réunion à la campagne (Apollinaire et ses amis), oil on canvas, 130 x 194 cm, Musée Picasso, Paris. Reproduced in The Cubist Painters, Aesthetic Meditations (1913)

Sous le pont Mirabeau

de Guillaume Apollinaire (1912)

  • Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine (1)
    Et nos amours
    Faut-il qu’il m’en souvienne
    La joie venait toujours après la peine

Under Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine and our love. Need I remember ? Joy always came after the pain.

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • Les mains dans les mains restons face à face (2)
    Tandis que sous
    Le pont de nos bras passe
    Des éternels regards l’onde si lasse

Hand in hand, let us stay face to face. While, beneath (sous) the bridge of our arms, Tired of being stared at eternally, flow waves, so weary

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • L’amour s’en va comme cette eau courante (3)
    L’amour s’en va
    Comme la vie est lente
    Et comme l’Espérance est violente

Love goes away as this water runs. Love goes away. How slow life is, and Hope, so pressing (violent).

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

  • Passent les jours et passent les semaines (4)
    Ni temps passé
    Ni les amours reviennent
    Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine

Days pass and weeks pass. Neither the past Nor love returns Under Mirabeau bridge flows the Seine.

Vienne la nuit sonne l’heure
Les jours s’en vont je demeure

Let night come and the hour ring. Days go away, I remain.

My translation is mostly literal. The following is more poetical:

Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away And lovers Must I be reminded Joy came always after pain The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I We’re face to face and hand in hand While under the bridges Of embrace expire Eternal tired tidal eyes The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I Love elapses like the river Love goes by Poor life is indolent And expectation always violent The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I The days and equally the weeks elapse The past remains the past Love remains lost Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away The night is a clock chiming The days go by not I…

https://muse.jhu.edu/chapter/36210

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Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Włodzimierz Apolinary Kostrowicki), 26 August 1880 – 9 November 1918, is a French writer, born in Rome. He is of Polish descent on his mother’s side. His father is unknown, but he may have been Francesco Costantino Camillo Flugi d’Aspermont (born 1835). Apollinaire learned French as a child, in Rome. His grandfather served in the Russian army and was killed during the Crimean War.

There is an eternal aspect to Apollinaire’s poetry. He writes as did Villon, Ronsard, Du Bellay… But he is associated with Cubism, Surrealism and Orphism. He may have coined all three terms. (See Guillaume Apollinaire, Wikipedia.) Moreover, the apparent simplicity of his poems foreshadows Jacques Prévert‘s Paroles, 1946) Apollinaire’s Calligrammes could be viewed as his contribution to modernisme. Baudelaire would have called it « du nouveau » (something new, Le Voyage, final line). It mixes words and pictures. It is visual poetry. (See La Tour Eiffel, Apollinaire, Calligrammes, Paris à Nu, Gérard, WordPress.com.) It is also a hint of literary nonsense.

 

Apollinaire knew everyone, le Tout-Paris, including Gertrude Stein, a patron of the arts. She is pictured to his right in the painting featured at the top of this post. (See The Cubist Painters, Aesthetic Meditations, Wikipedia.) Apollinaire wrote poetry, plays, short stories, and he was an art critic.  His poem, in the shape of a cat, is a collection of French expressions referring to cats, such as « La nuit tous les chats sont gris. » (At night, all cats are grey.) « Avoir d’autres chats à fouetter [to whip] » means: to have other fish to fry.

Apollinaire was in love with artist Marie Laurencin (« Marie » and, I believe, his amour in « Le pont Mirabeau »). He sustained a brain injury during World War I, and died, two year later, in 1918, of the Spanish Flu, a pandemic.


RELATED ARTICLES

Sources and Resources

marie-laurencin-copie-1

Marie Laurencin, Le Pont, 1940 (Artnet)

Marc Lavoine chante Sous le pont Mirabeau

 

Léo Ferré chante Sous le pont Mirabeau (a classic)

posterlux-laurencin_marie_1901_1953-marie_laurencin_1908_autoportrait

Marie Laurencin (Modern Art Consulting)

© Micheline Walker
30 April 2018
Revised 1st May 2018
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