Do you think reciting poetry is outdated or ridiculous ?

If you have been following my blog for a little while, you surely know by now that I'm quite besotted with Monchéri. He's my best friend, my best source of inspiration, he's very generous, he makes me laugh, he can be very moody but it doesn't last and all my girlfriends love him a reasonable way of course. One of the little things I like about him is his ability to suddenly recite verses in a very exuberant way. It doesn't happen often but when it does, I clap my hands and laugh with delight.
I think I should read more poetry, at least get familiar with the work of Rafael Alberti (a contemporary of Federico Garcia Lorca).

When I was at at school, it was common practice to learn by heart poems of Ronsard, Arthur Rimbaud, Verlaine, Baudelaire etc..My mother would make sure I memorized each verse and recite in a proper tone. "Tu dois ressentir ce que dit le poète" (you must feel what the poet says) she used to tell me.

Last tuesday, as we were driving through the valley on a country road which leads to the coast, suddenly the sea was there, right in front us, so blue and unexpected....I kept saying "que maravilla, que belleza..." (how wonderful, how beautiful). Monchéri laughed because it seemed I was seeing the sea for the first time in my life. I laughed too and took a serious air before shouting these verses of Baudelaire :

Homme libre toujours tu chériras la mer
La mer est ton miroir ; tu contemples ton âme
Dans le déroulement infini de sa lame

Free man, you will always cherish the sea
The sea is your mirror ; you contemplate your soul
In the infinite rolling of its waves

(translation by Cat Nilan)
Funny how our memory stores lines or verses which had been learnt zillions years ago..

I think we will go to the beach this sunday, to enjoy a bit of fresh air, the sight of children playing with the waves and the smell of fresh grilled sardins.....
I leave you with the first strophe of a poem of one of my favorite poets, Saint-John Perse. It is extracted from Eloges (Praises) -1911. Don't ask me why but this poem to me is the very image of an exotic summer. I love reading it aloud. I love its sensual tone. It also evokes sweet memories of the year I spent at UVa, (University of Virginia) as an exchange student many years ago. The French literature department organized a poetry reading and I chose to recite this poem.

Les viandes grillent en plein vent, les sauces se composent
et la fumée remonte les chemins à vif et rejoint qui marchait.
Alors le Songeur aux joues sales
se tire
d'un vieux songe tout rayé de violences, de ruses et d'éclats,
et orné de sueurs, vers l'odeur de la viande
il descend
comme une femme qui traîne: ses toiles, tout son ligne et ses cheveux défaits

Meats broil in the open air, sauces are brewing
and the smoke goes up the raw paths and overtakes someone walking.
Then the Dreamer with dirty cheeks
comes slowly out of
an old dream all streaked with violences, wiles and splendour,
and jewelled in sweat, toward the odour of meat
he descends
like a woman trailing: her linen, all her clothes, and her
hanging hair

(translation by Louise Varèse - she made such a super job of capturing and translating the exact tone of Saint-John Perse, the English translation is as enjoyable as the original text)

I wish you a wonderful week end
Be dreamy, be poetic !


oiadweller said…
4am post Lala...and such a lovely post to boot. Any man that can recite poems like that at will deserves your affection...pity you guys were not coming here for the weekend....your grilled octopus & ouzo award still awaits ;-)
enjoy the beach....
Christina said…
I am clapping my hands and smiling with love! You have brought me such luxurious words and placed them here. So beautiful, Lala.

I love you!
pranksygang said…
that poem sounds gr8!!
you have a very good memory !
Señora Capone said…
I am impressed you can remember poetry. I can barely remember how to tell a joke I just heard.
Love the verses of Baudelaire!
Now that is a poem I can grasp. I usually find myself asking my husband, "Can you explain that to me? I don't know what that means."
Your photo of the sardines reminds me of the many Spaniards I used to spend time with. How they loved sardines! And now I do too. Have another grand but relaxing weekend, Lala.
Me too, that's a poem I can grasp..., love it (as you can imagine). And I also learned many verses by heart in school.
Lala .. .

You leave us with the perfect reminder --- to be dreamy and poetic!

I also love your dreamy love for Moncheri - how delightful that he totally gets you.

My dear husband says that it is his job in life to make me Laugh Everyday.

We are lucky girls, indeed.

Linda Sue said…
A poet has my heart immediatly- I would spend my last dime on poetry and starve through the week, nourished only by the way the words are put together- Anyone able to recite poetry off the top of their head has my admiration totally!
I am blind when it comes to that- sort of like falling in love with a rock star kind of blindness- My husband recited German poetry to me when we first met- That was IT! I was a goner!
I truly love that verse about the sea and for me it is a personal truth. I grew up beachside, but beyond that I feel I must have been a sea creature in a previous life. I am truly happiest immersed in sea water.

UVa! How delightful! That is where my daughter is attending law school and it is 2 hours from my home (outside DC). I am glad you remember your time in my home state with fondness..
Diana said…
I love parents read it to one another, which is one of the sweet, romantic things they do and I love it! Thank you!
ieishah said…
i knew i loved my serb when we met, but i REALLY knew when he quoted lorca, 'i like you in green', referring to the 'online' icon on skype. i'm not so much a fan of men writing me poetry, but definitely reciting great poetry is the most luxurious of all acts/gifts.
David Engel said…
Hello Lala!

I do not think poetry is outdated or ridiculous. I love it. I love Rilke and romantic poets whose works drip with atmosphere. Unfortunately I don't believe that enough young people are paying poetry, music, art, literature... the attention they deserve. Too busy texting? OY!

I didn't know you spent time in VA. I am in Bethesda.

As Always,

'...Do I dare to eat a peach'

I LOVE how you both let the verses and lines just flow...whenever!

Kim said…
Lovely juxtaposition. The sea, the air, and poetry.

I wish more people would cite poetry aloud. Imagine, in a line somewhere, waiting, and poetry is being spoken, like:

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? (Sonnet 18) by William Shakespeare

Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate.
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer's lease hath all too short a date.
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimmed;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance, or nature's changing course, untrimmed;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow'st,
Nor shall death brag thou wand'rest in his shade,
When in eternal lines to Time thou grow'st.
So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

I wouldn't mind waiting in line so much...
Anonymous said…
Reciting poetery is not outdated. And neither is serenading! I think those are two powerful methods for expressing how you feel for someone.
Kasey said…
I fear poetry is becoming outdated. When I taught 4th grade, we studied and wrote our own poetry often. My students loved it and I hope that love sticks with them.

When my husband and I were dating, he wrote me poems all the time. (They were mostly silly poems, but it was still sweet.) He also proposed to me with a poem he wrote for me. : )
rochambeau said…
Keep reciting Lala!
I adore poetry!

Happy weekend to you and your Cheri!
We used to recite poetry in school but sad to say, the trend is lost now.
Elizabeth said…
Yes,yes, we should all spend time loving and cherishing words used wonderfully well.
I posted a sad poem by Robert Frost yesterday.
I love hearing poems read aloud.
Lots of us in the blogosphere LOVE poetry.
Happy weekend, Lala to you and Moncherie.
Relyn said…
It's not quite what you mean, but I'll tell you my poetry story.

Yes. I absolutely do believe in the power of memorizing poetry. I hated poetry until I was an adult. I think because I never learned to love it as a child. Since I believe poetry is one of those things that makes life richer, I wanted my students to learn to love it, too.

To that end, I have a poem of the week. Most of them are silly, humorous children's poems. But, several of them are simple "grown up" poetry. We read it in unison each morning. Then, any child who wants may memorize it and quote it to me on Fridays. They know get a prize from the treasure box. What they don't know is that they are also gaining a lifetime love of poetry.
Bee said…
I'm just about to go outside and grill some meat in the dying sunlight of what has been a lovely, lovely day.

I will think of this amusing poem, (if not actually recite it). And to answer your question, I'm charmed by people who know poems "by heart" and have the courage/grace/style to recite them!
SE'LAH... said…
Beautiful. I grew up memorising poetry and it's funny which ones stick with you throughout life.

I can go for a bit of that grilled to share? :)
Indyeah said…
that is such a beautiful thought Lala!:))
to hear poetry everywhere one turns :)
how absolutely delightful !:))

I too know some of my fav ones by heart..:))and never waste an opportunity to recite them:D

Love to you and Moncheri:)

God bless you both:)
Cynthia said…
What a wonderful gift to share, the gift of your self expression! I imagine the smells, the sound of waves gently breaking in the background...and there are Lala and Moncherie....the image is the refreshing to be in love and in love with romance. Poetry is alive and well! <4
Yoli said…
I am constantly memorizing poetry so I think it is wonderful that Moncheri is a kindred soul. Right now I am attempting to learn, Los Zapaticos de Rosa by Jose Marti.
La mer, la mer, toujours la mer. Thus reads the first page of Alejo carpentier's novel 'La Sacre du Printemps' which I re-read a couple of years ago. And your post brought back those memories. Many thanks for the poem, it's wonderful and yes, we should recite more poetry and learn more poems by heart. Have a nice week.

Greetings from London.
dutchbaby said…
I love both poems and the beautiful photos you paired with them.

I would like to eat some of those sardines under the palm trees. Bliss!

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