Monday, 16 April 2012

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,
Asseyez-vous
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 ?

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

A Spring poem for Easter;

Spring is a time for new life, a message paralleled in the glory of the Resurrection. Even in Hong Kong, I can see signs of spring through the pollution! A.E. Housman's work A Shropshire Lad contains the following poem which is ideal for this time of the year. The beauty and simplicity of the images attracts the listener to the poem's key message of seizing opportunities to enjoy nature's beauty now. I particularly like to think of cherry trees wearing white for Easter. Read this and then go for a walk...


from A Shropshire Lad

II

Loveliest of trees, the cherry now
Is hung with bloom along the bough,
And stands about the woodland ride
Wearing white for Eastertide.

Now, of my threescore years and ten,
Twenty will not come again,
And take from seventy springs a score,
It only leaves me fifty more.

And since to look at things in bloom
Fifty springs are little room,
About the woodlands I will go
To see the cherry hung with snow.


Ad Gloriam Dei.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Poems for Easter

Technically this is a hymn but it reads wonderfully and is perfect for a children's Easter recital. What could be more joyous and reflective of rebirth at this time of year than the voices of children?

At Eastertime the lillies fair
And lovely flowers bloom everywhere
At Eastertime, At Eastertime,
How glad the world at Eastertime

Delightful and to the point. Perfect!