MAKALAH SASTRA : PARIS AND RIVER SEINE IN FRENCH POEMS OLEH Dr. DANNY SUSANTO,M.A (Faculty of Humanities- Universitas Indonesia)

 Paris and River Seine in French Poems*

  
Dr. Danny Susanto, M. A
Faculty of Humanities- Universitas Indonesia
Depok, Desember 2017
                                                          dcamilo@yahoo.com


Abstract

       Paris,  the capital of France has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic city in the world,  filled with historic associations,  and remaining enormously leading in culture, art, fashion, food and design. Labeled the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it has plentiful iconic landmarks, such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum,  Notre-Dame Cathedral the Arc de Triomphe making it the most popular tourist destination in the world where some  45 million tourists come annually.
       Paris with its river Seine has inspired a large number of writers and poets from around the world. such as. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Hemingway who have found their source of inspiration in Paris. The city has conquered the hearts of these poets  and many literary works about this city  and river Seine have been created. They include Louis Aragon(1897-1982) (Paris), Maurice Careme(1899-1978) (la tour Eiffel/Eiffel tower), Gérard de NERVAL(1808-1855) (Notre Dame de Paris /Notre Dame of Paris), André Laude(1936-1995)(Parisscope), Jacques Charpentreau (1926-2016)( L'embouteillage/Traffic jam) and inspired   Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918)( Le pont Mirabeau/Mirabeau bridge). Some poems venerate the beauty and the attraction  of the city including its important monuments, others deplore the traffic jam and pollution suffered by the city. One poem narrates the unhappy ending of a love story. The image consists of three elements (Seine, time and love) that have some thing in common: to pass. They are paradoxically connected to the Mirabeau Bridge, which represents stability.



Paris and River Seine in French Poems

       Paris the capital of France, is one of the biggest agglomerations in  Europe with the population of 2.2 millions living in the central  area and 12 millions living in surrounding metropolitan areas. Located in the northern part of France and in the bank  of River Seine,  Paris has the reputation of being the most beautiful and romantic city in the world,  filled with historic associations,  and remaining enormously leading in culture, art, fashion, food and design sectors Labeled the City of Light (la Ville Lumière) and Capital of Fashion, it has world's best and most luxurious fashion designers and cosmetics, such as  L'Oréal , Lancôme, Yves Saint-Laurent, Guerlain Chanel, Clarins,  Dior, etc.. A large part of the city, including the River Seine, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.The city is home of  the second highest number of Michelin restaurants in the world and has plentiful iconic landmarks, such as the world's most visited tourist site the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum,  Notre-Dame Cathedral the Arc de Triomphe,  Moulin Rouge, and Lido, making it the most popular tourist destination in the world where some  45 million tourists come annually.
       To cross Paris along the river Seine is to taste a thousand escapades on the river, banks, bridges and islands, day and night, left bank or right bank. By boat, on foot, by bike, people laze, walk, or  dine, dance and of course  shop!  
      Some tourist spots a long the river Seine side include :Arsenal Port,  Piscine Joséphine Baker, Jardin Tino-Rossi, Typical booksellers on the banks of the Seine,  From the Royal Bridge to the Sully Bridge, Square of Vert-Galant, .the bridges of Paris The thirty-seven Parisian bridges offer striking panoramas of the city seen from the river, Orsay Museum.

Paris: in the footsteps of great writers

       Paris with its river Seine has inspired a large number of writers and poets from around the world. Thanks to  Académie Française, the Comédie Française and the Grande Sorbonne, Paris has become a literary capital of France and shines throughout Europe. Legendary writers and poets such as. Voltaire, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, Hemingway have found their source of inspiration in Paris. This  beautiful and romantic, city has conquered the hearts of these poets  and many literary works about this city have been created.
       "Breathe Paris, it preserves your soul," once Victor Hugo said. Many places in Paris were meeting points of  these writers to meet each other to exchange and  write .
 In the Latin Quarter of Paris, there is the Quai Lanzun, at 17 Quai d'Anjou, the place that housed the "club of hashish smokers" where poets  including Balzac or Baudelaire frequently spent their leisure time.
       In the 6th arrondissement,  there is  Café Procope (13 Ancienne Comedie street )the oldest café in Paris where  Franklin and Voltaire were regular visitors. It was at the Café de Flore or Au deux magots (in Saint Germain des Prés, opposite the church) that the philosophical and subversive ideas of Sartre, Beauvoir, Camus, Vian and Prévert were born. Albert Camus resided for a while at the Hotel Madison, 143 Boulevard Saint Germain.
       Montparnasse, at the Closerie des Lilas, was frequented by Hemingway who wrote “The sun also rises”  in six weeks. For this  American writer, "Paris is a party!"
People wanting to tribute to some of the greatest writers, can visit Montparnasse cemetery where the bodies of Sartre, Beckett, Huysmans, Baudelaire and Maupassant were buried .

Paris and river Seine in poems

Here are some most prominent poems about Paris written by some remarkable poets:  We start with Louis Aragon(1897-1982) surrealist,  who wrote poem  “Paris”  at the age of 47. Written  in strict in quintains, the poet   glorified the city in the first  lines of the first stanza and described it as the city where  every thing is fine despite the bad times.  

Où fait-il bon même au coeur de l’orage
Où fait-il clair même au coeur de la nuit

(Where it feels good even in the heart of the storm
Where it is clear even in the heart of the night.)

Despite the suffering and humiliation and despite the war and the destruction as the result of German occupation,  Paris remains strong:

«  carreaux cassés l’espoir encore y luit « (broken tiles hope still shines there)

The power of Paris is further expressed in the lines of the third stanza:

Rien n’a l’éclat de Paris dans la poudre
Rien n’est si pur que son front d’insurgé
Rien n’est ni fort ni le feu ni la foudre
Que mon Paris défiant les dangers
Rien n’est si beau que ce Paris que j’ai.

(Nothing has the brilliance of Paris in the powder
Nothing is so pure as his insurgent front
Nothing is strong neither fire nor lightning
May my Paris defy the dangers
Nothing is so beautiful as this Paris I have.)

Sharing Aragon’s admiration for Paris,   Maurice Careme(1899-1978) a poet of Belgian origin also gave his tribute to the city through his poem : la tour Eiffel (Eiffel tower), focusing on the city’s most well-known monument, Eiffel tower built by Gustave Eiffel in the occasion of Paris Universal Exposition in 1889. This monument has become the symbol of the French capital, and one of the main tourist sites. Through his poem, “la tour Eiffel” (Eiffel tower),  written in one single stanza of 18 lines, Careme used metaphor to describe the tower comparing it with a giraffe in the first lines

Mais oui, je suis une girafe,
M’a raconté la tour Eiffel,
Et si ma tête est dans le ciel,
C’est pour mieux brouter les nuages,

(Yes, I'm a giraffe,
Eiffel Tower told me,
And if my head is in the sky,
It is to better graze the clouds),

Careme also raised the diverse aspects offered by the city  and that those visiting Paris always have always some thing to do, some thing to admire , some thing to enjoy . The river Seine is also evoked in this poem:
Mais j’ai quatre pieds bien assis
Dans une courbe de la Seine.
On ne s’ennuie pas à Paris :

(But I have four feet sitting well
In a curve of the Seine.
We do not get bored in Paris.)

The veneration of abundance of Paris monuments is also portrayed by Gérard de NERVAL(1808-1855) in  his poem “Notre Dame de Paris “ denoting  French gothic cathedral, Notre Dame in Paris), built in 1345. Composed in double sestets, the  poem is an homage to the monument for its strong attraction observable  in the first and second line of the second stanza:
Bien des hommes, de tous les pays de la terre
Viendront, pour contempler cette ruine austère,

(Many people from all countries of the earth
Will come, to contemplate this austere ruin,)

However, this poet expresses his disquiet that this monument will not resist the test of time in line: 2, 3, 4, 5:
Mais, dans quelque mille ans, le Temps fera broncher
Comme un loup fait un bœuf, cette carcasse lourde,
Tordra ses nerfs de fer, et puis d'une dent sourde
Rongera tristement ses vieux os de rocher !

(But in a thousand years, Time will flinch
Like a wolf becoming  an ox, this heavy carcass,
Will twist his iron nerves  and then with a dull tooth
Will consume  sadly  his old rock bones!)

On the other hand, in "Pariscope", a poem composed by  the poet André Laude(1936-1995), with one pretty long stanza containing 23 lines, opposes two facets of the capital. First,(in line 1 and 2) he talked about the great monuments and then proceed  (line 3) with  the pleasure of Parisians to walk aroun in such a beautiful city:

 C’est la parade des grands monuments
Tour Eiffel Notre-Dame
La foule va et vient baguenaude des Champs-Elysées à la Défense,

(It is the parade of the great monuments
Eiffel Tower Notre-Dame
The crowd comes and goes from Champs-Elysees, to la Defense)

But the poem quickly denounces the omnipresence of the cars and the pollution it generates (line 7, 8, 9,10, 11,12, 13):

Dans les voitures il y a des gens qui habitent
dans de grandes tours le long des grands boulevards
et qui achètent mille choses dans de grands magasins
et puis vont flâner le long des quais
pour oublier les fumées des usines
qui polluent la Seine
et tuent les légumes dans les jardins de banlieue.

(In the cars there are people who live
in big towers along the big boulevards
and who buy a thousand things in department stores
and then go strolling  along the docks
to forget the fumes of the factories
polluting the Seine
and killing vegetables in peripheral gardens)

The poet also protests against the consumer society, against the false idols of today, opposing them the Egyptian goddess Karomama(line 16 to 21):
Le métro conduit aux musées
où derrière les vitrines lumineuses
la reine Karomama sourit avec ses lèvres orientales
et des jeunes filles rêveuses
vont acheter à la FNAC un album plein de photographies
de dieux et d’idoles qu’elles contemplent avec des yeux tristes

(Subway leads to museums
where behind the light showcases
Queen Karomama smiling with her oriental lips
and dreamy girls
will buy at the FNAC an album full of photographs
of gods and idols they contemplate with gloomy eyes)

This unpleasant side of Paris is also enunciated in the poem L'embouteillage(Traffic jam), also having one single stanza of 22 lines  by Jacques Charpentreau (1926-2016) where he deplores  the heavy traffic suffered by the city :
Les voitures stoppent.
Blanches, grises, vertes, bleues,
Tortues à la queue leu leu,
Jaunes, rouges, beiges, noires,
Tortues têtues Tintamarre !
Bloquées dans vos carapaces
Regardez-moi bien : je passe !
The cars stop.

(White, gray, green, blue,
Turtles in the tail one after the other,
Yellow, red, beige, black,
Stubborn noisy Turtles!
Clogged in your shells
Look at me: I am passing!)

And finally,  Paris’s  river Seine has inspired   Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) to compose his famous poem Le pont Mirabeau (Mirabeau bridge) referring to one of the bridges in the city.  The poem has 4 quatrains and 4 couplets. Written following his separation from painter, Marie Laurencin the poet narrated his love story with sad ending.


Le Pont Mirabeau

Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine
Et nos amours
Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne
La joie venait toujours après la peine

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

Les mains dans les mains restons face à face
Tandis que sous
Le pont de nos bras passe
Des éternels regards l'onde si lasse

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

L'amour s'en va comme cette eau courante
L'amour s'en va
Comme la vie est lente
Et comme l'Espérance est violente

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

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

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

Mirabeau Bridge 

Under Mirabeau Bridge runs the Seine
with all our loves,
which I must recall,
joy forever following pain.

Night sounds the hours, days depart, I remain.

Hand in hand let us stand face to face
while under
the bridge of our arms pass
our time-locked eyes in a lazy wave.

Night sounds the hours, days depart, I remain.

And love runs like this running water,
love runs,
sure as life drags,
sure as hope forces.

Night sounds the hours, days depart, I remain.

Days pass into weeks that pass.
Neither times passed
nor my love return.
Under Mirabeau bridge runs the Seine.
Night sounds the hours, days depart, I remain.


Although the images used by Apollinaire in the "Mirabeau bridge" may seem simple, they are nevertheless renewed by the poet. This one broke the classical structure of the comparison, usually composed of a compared and a comparing. Here, the image consists of three elements (Seine, time and love) that have some thing in common: to pass. They are paradoxically connected to the Mirabeau Bridge, which represents stability. Each of these elements is thus at the same time the compared and the comparing of the two others: the poet creates thus a mobile and not fixed comparison, in the image of its three components.
Apollinaire offers us in "The Mirabeau Bridge" a resolutely modern poem, in spite of appearances.  Apollinaire takes up themes and registers of traditional poetry to better release the flipped images by renewing them. The poet is thus faithful to the avant-garde approach of this beginning of the century which wishes a poetic rupture.


Conclusion
Paris and its river Seine have always been the center of attraction of visitors coming from all over the world.
Similarly, they have also been the source of inspiration for literary works including the poems.
Many poets, both French and non French, have written legendary and remarkable poems on them.
Most adored the beauty of the city including its monuments and its diversity. Some, however, regreted the negative sides including traffic jump, pollution and consumerism of its people.
The river Seine has particularly inspired Apolines to narrate his rupture with his lover in one of his masterpieces, le pont Mirabeau ( Mirabeau bridge) presenting double ruptures: love rupture and poetic rupture  proving that he is   one of the  pioneers of avant-garde poetry in his time.


References

Bancquart M-C. (1996) La poésie française du surréalisme à nos jours, Paris: Ellipses..
Delaveau P. (1988) La poésie française au tournant des années quatre-vingt. Paris: Corti.
Gleize J-M. (1992) A noir : poésie et littéralité : essai, Paris: Seuil.
Lepape P. (2003) Le Pays de la littérature, Paris: Seuil.
Maulpoix J-M. (2009) Du lyrisme, Paris: J. Corti.
Orizet J. (1988) Anthologie de la poésie française : les poètes et les oeuvres, les mouvements et les écoles. Paris: Larousse, 639.
Pinson J-C. (1995) Habiter en poète : essai sur la poésie contemporaine, Seyssel: Champ Vallon.
Reynaud-Paligot C. (2001) Parcours politique des surréalistes: 1919-1969: JSTOR.
Sapiro G. (2010) L'autonomie de la littérature en question. In: Martin J-P (ed) Bourdieu et la littérature. Nantes: Cécile Defaut, 45-61.
Speller JRW. (2011) Bourdieu and literature: Open Book Publishers.
Vercier B and Viart D. (2005) La littérature française au présent, Paris: Bordas.


* Disampaikan dalam Seminar Internasional Sastra Indonesia, 6 s.d. 9 Desember 2017 di Banjarmasin.


MAKALAH SASTRA : PARIS AND RIVER SEINE IN FRENCH POEMS OLEH Dr. DANNY SUSANTO,M.A (Faculty of Humanities- Universitas Indonesia) Terjemahan Bahasa Indonesianya Baca dan Lihat selengkapnya di sini !!



Desember 07, 2017

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