The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

Feb 7, 2008

Today's French Lesson

Having got back from holiday, I rushed to my twice-weekly French class today. We're studying the past tense now, and Sylvie, our instructor, showed us the following poem:
-Jacques Prévert

Il a mis le café
Dans la tasse
Il a mis le lait
Dans la tasse de café
Il a mis le sucre
Dans le café au lait
Avec la petite cuiller
Il a tourné
Il a bu le café au lait
Et il a reposé la tasse
Sans me parler
Il a allumé
Une cigarette
Il a fait des ronds
Avec la fumée
Il a mis les cendres
Dans le cendrier
Sans me parler
Sans me regarder
Il s'est levé
Il a mis
Son chapeau sur sa tête
Il a mis
Son manteau de pluie
Parce qu'il pleuvait
Et il est parti
Sous la pluie
Sans une parole
Sans me regarder
Et moi j'ai pris
Ma tête dans ma main
Et j'ai pleuré.
(loose translation follows)
He put the coffee in the cup
He put the milk in the coffee cup
He put the sugar in the white coffee
With the little spoon
He stirred
He drank the white coffee
He replaced the cup
Without speaking to me
He lit a cigarette
He blew smoke rings
He put the ashes in the ashtray
Without speaking to me
Without looking at me
He got up
He put his hat on his head
He donned his raincoat
Because it was raining
And he left
Beneath the rain
Without an uttered word
Without looking at me
And I, I put my head in my arms
And I wept.
She wanted us to tell her who the actors in the poem were. The class was convinced that there were a man and a woman involved, and the man was ignoring the woman and she was suffused with sorrow.

I disagreed, of course. I suspected that the man was at a cafe and he was rude to the waiter, a particularly sensitive type. And so the fellow marched off into the rain without tipping the garçon, who (no doubt in his first job) was laid low by the rejection. That's my story and I stick to it.


Veena said...

They still use this poem to teach past participle?! In my class ages ago, our homework assignment was to to write what happenend next. I had some long story about how this little girl felt all abandoned that her dad left her. Then she grows up and becomes a smoker and blows smoke rings exactly like her dad.

Btw, when you are utterly jobless, you should go check out some of the depressing vids on you tube on this poem.

Oh, and welcome back. Can we expect details of trip soon then?

Fëanor said...

Actually, when I first studied passe compose in school years ago, we had to inure ourselves to the boring antics of a family of petit-bourgeousie named Vincents. So this is a fair amount of progress. Thanks for the YouTube headsup; will meander there on a vetti morn.

Can we expect details of trip soon then?

I'm afraid so :-)

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