The meaning of life - in a French Egg

When you are presenting in a foreign language, there are a few steps you need to think about: Read your speech or poem to a native speaker and get feedback. If at all possible, get a native speaker to record your piece for you. Finally, don't take yourself too seriously; you are making an effort to communicate which is invariably appreciated.

As part of our French classes, students are encouraged to present in French. We always start off with poetry as the rhythm aids pronunciation. The following is a poem I particularly like by Raymond Queneau. The narrator is teaching chicks about eggs. After describing the shape and colour of the shell, the teacher realises that he can't show the chicks the interior as, if he does so, he will be removing the source of their existence! Which came first, the chicken, the egg, or the lesson about the egg?

La leçon de choses Raymond Queneau

Venez, poussins,
Je vais vous instruire sur l’œuf
Dont tous vous venez, poussins.
L’œuf est rond
Mais pas tout à fait
Il serait plutôt ovoïde
Avec une carapace
Et vous en venez tous, poussins
Il est blanc
Pour votre race
Crème ou même orangé
Avec parfois collé
Un brin de paille
Mais ça,
C’est un supplément
A l’intérieur, il y a…
Mais pour y voir
Faut le casser
Et alors d’où - vous poussins - sortirez ?


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