Robert Desnos

Robert Desnos, born in July 1900, was a surrealist poet, contemporary of Paul Eluard, André Breton and Louis Aragon. He published his first poem at the age of 19 and was an adept at “Automatic Writing, a technique where the words supposedly arise from a subconscious rather than the conscious mind of the writer. During the German occupation, he published some leaflets mocking the Nazi, which led to his arrest and his incarceration in a concentration camp. Despite the Allied Forces liberating his camp, he died of typhoid in June 1945.

In 1932, He published some poems for children Chantefables. These are easy for emergent French readers and very fun. These poems would be completely lost in translation; therefore I have only included the French version.

Les Hiboux

Ce sont les mères des hiboux
Qui désiraient chercher les poux
De leurs enfants, leurs petits choux,
En les tenant sur les genoux.

Leurs yeux d’or valent des bijoux,
Leur bec est dur comme cailloux,
Ils sont doux comme des joujoux,
Mais aux hiboux point de genoux !

Votre histoire se passait où ?
Chez les Zoulous ? les Andalous ?
Ou dans la cabane Bambou ?
À Moscou ou à Tombouctou ?
En Anjou ou dans le Poitou ?
Au Pérou ou chez les Mandchous ?

Hou ! Hou !

Pas du tout c’était chez les fous.

La Tortue

Je suis tortue et je suis belle,
Il ne me manque que des ailes
Pour imiter les hirondelles,
Que ? Que ?

Mon élégant corset d’écailles
Sans boutons, sans vernis, ni mailles
Est exactement à ma taille.
Ni ? Ni ?

Je suis tortue et non bossue,
Je suis tortue et non cossue,
Je suis tortue et non déçue,
Eh ? Non ?

If you enjoyed these two poems, click here for apdf version of the book.

Bonne lecture!

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