Our poetry evening ‘Choix de poèmes’ on the 11th December was a wonderful success thanks entirely to our members who selected and presented their choice of poems and to the lively and informative discussions which followed.
A number of people expressed their pleasure at having been reacquainted with a favourite poem or at having discovered a new work. It was also interesting to compare the various anthologies members had brought with them. Some of the books were old but all were beautifully kept in keeping no doubt with the many treasured memories they contained.
First up, was Jonathan with Arthur Rimbaud's Le Dormeur du Val – a sensitive poem about a fallen soldier composed when the poet was quite young. Amélie was next with her rendition of Victor Hugo's Sur une barricade written in 1872. This was her favourite poem from an author we don't immediately think of as a poet.
An extract from L'Invitation au voyage by Charles Baudelaire was Margaret's choice. Reading from Douglas Parmée's anthology, Twelve French Poets, a text familiar to many at the meeting, she delivered the poem in such a way that one member who was already familiar with the text said that it was like hearing it, really hearing it, for the very first time.
My own rendition was Déjeuner du matin by Jacques Prévert. A deceptively simple poem, often studied in French primary schools despite its quite adult, mature theme. One of the members commented that the poem had a cinematic or theatrical feel to it. Prévert of course was also a screenwriter most notably for Les Enfants du Paradis. Incidentally, a full size cinema poster for that film, crediting Prévert, adorns the staircase wall of the Harp Bar, just opposite the Dark Horse.
Liberté by Paul Éluard was Claudine choice. Here the theme of freedom seemed to connect with other poems independently chosen for the evening. It was an appropriate poem to lead to an extract of a lecture - The whole thing: On the good of poetry - given by the late Seamus Heaney and voiced by his friend, Jim. Discussion around the extract led to a lively exchange on the value of reading aloud, hearing rather than reading the poem and the whole subject of translation.
All in all it was an excellent evening which members felt ought to be repeated in future programmes. As ever, the Dark Horse was the perfect venue – Warm ; comfortable seats ; soft lighting ; treasured anthologies and timeless literature.