Poèmes pour la paix

Poèmes pour la paix - (2007)     

 Paul Éluard

for medium high voice and piano


i.   Bonjour - [ 2 pages, circa 50" ]

Toutes les femmes heureuses ont
Retrouvé leur mari - il revient du soleil
Tant il apporte de chaleur.
Il rit et dit bonjour tout doucement
Avant d'embrasser sa merveille.

ii.  Splendide ! - [ 1 page, circa 45" ]

Splendide, la poitrine cambrée légèrement,
Sainte ma femme, tu es à moi bien mieux qu'au temps
Où avec lui, et lui, et lui, et lui, et lui,
Je tenais un fusil, un bidon - notre vie !

iii. O ! mes amis ! - [ 1 page, circa 35" ]

Tous les camarades du monde,
O ! mes amis !
Ne valent pas à ma table ronde
Ma femme et mes enfants assis,
O ! mes amis !

iv.  Près de toi - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 40" ]

Après le combat dans la foule,
Tu t'endormais dans la foule.
Maintenant, tu n'auras qu'un souffle près de toi,
Et ta femme partageant ta couche
T'inquiétera bien plus que les mille autres bouches.

v.   Mon enfant
- [ 1 page, circa 40" ]

Mon enfant est capricieux -
Tous ces caprices sont faits.
J'ai un bel enfant coquet
Qui me fait rire et rire.

vi.  Travaille - [ 1 page, circa 1' 00" ]

Travail de mes dix doigts et travail de ma tête,
Travail de Dieu, travail de bête,
Ma vie et notre espoir de tous les jours,
La nourriture et notre amour.

vii.  Ma belle - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 00" ]

Ma belle, il nous faut voir fleurir
La rose blanche de ton lait.
Ma belle, il faut vite être mère,
Fais un enfant à mon image...

viii. Pour être heureux - [ 1 page, circa 55" ]

J'ai eu longtemps un visage inutile,
Mais maintenant
J'ai un visage pour être aimé,
J'ai un visage pour être heureux.

ix.  Une amoureuse - [ 2 pages, circa 50" ]

Il me faut une amoureuse,
Une vierge amoureuse,
Une vierge à la robe légère.

x.   Je rêve - [ 2 pages, circa 2' 00" ]

Je rêve de toutes les belles
Qui se promènent dans la nuit,
Très calmes,
Avec la lune qui voyage.

xi.  Mon jardin - [ 2 pages, circa 1' 25" ]

Toute la fleur des fruits éclaire mon jardin,
Les arbres de beauté et les arbres fruitiers.
Et je travaille et je suis seul dans mon jardin.
Et le soleil brûle en feu sombre sur mes mains.

[ Total duration - 17 pages, circa 11' 40" ]

Paul Éluard


Lyrical poet and a founder of Surrealism with Louis Aragon and André Breton among others, Paul Éluard (1895-1952) rejected later Surrealism and joined the French Communist Party in 1942 in part in response to the rise of National Socialism in Germany under the Nazis.  Many of his works reflect the major events of the century, such as the World Wars, the Resistance against the Nazis, and the political and social ideals of the 20th-century. Born into a lower-middle-class background in Saint-Denis, Paris, he was the son of a bookkeeper, whose wife helped out with the household bills by dressmaking.


Éluard became interested in poetry in a Swiss sanatorium, where he was sent at the age of 16 for treatment of tuberculosis. When he returned to France, he joined the army and was badly injured by gas. His first noteworthy volume of poetry appeared in 1917.

Éluard was briefly involved with the Dada Movement.  Like Tristan Tzara, André Breton, Aragon and other intellectuals, Éluard had emerged from the war disgusted and rejected commonly accepted laws and morality, offering instead radical nihilism. Appearing in 1921was his statement in verse of surrealist theories, Les Nécessités de la Vie et la  Conséquence des Rêves. His reputation as a poet was established with the publication of Capitale de la Douleur comprising many of the poems written between 1921 and 1926. In 1924 Éluard disappeared, with rumors of his death widely circulated and accepted as true. Seven months later he reappeared and explained that he had been on a journey from Marseilles to Tahiti, Indonesia, and Ceylon - a journey connected to his wife Gala leaving him for the surrealist artist Salvador Dali.


 Éluard was a central member of the surrealist group from 1924 to 1938. Of it he said his work was to be "au service de la Révolution." But in the late 1930s Éluard abandoned Surrealistic experimentations as a result of his concern over the Spanish Civil War and political problems. During WW II he served in the French army and in the Communist Resistance, publishing poems under such pseudonyms as Jean du Hault and Maurice Hervent. To avoid the Gestapo Éluard and his second wife constantly changed addresses. Éluard's most famous poem during these years, 'Liberté' (1942), was circulated throughout France.


After the war Éluard was active in the international communist movement. He traveled in Britain, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Mexico, and Russia, but not the United States, because he was refused a visa as a Communist. Éluard's idealism caused him to not see the reality of the Soviet Socialism and led him to admire Stalin as a "cultural force" for good, rather than the murderous dictator which he proved to be. In fact, Soviet Socialist Realism was a direct antithesis to Éluard's aims. For Éluard, poetry's purpose was to renew language in order to effect radical changes in perception. He saw poetry as an action capable of arousing awareness in his readers, and identified with the supposed leftist struggle for political, social and sexual "liberation." This is akin to what in linguistics became known as the Sapir–Whorf hypothesis. which states that there is a systematic relationship between the grammatical categories of the language a person speaks and how that person both understands the world and behaves in it. The hypothesis argues that the nature of a particular language influences the habitual thought of its speakers. Different patterns of language yield different patterns of thought. This idea challenges the possibility of representing the world perfectly with language, because it acknowledges that the mechanisms of any language affect its users.

Éluard published poetry, literary and political works and poetic texts dedicated to such painters as Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso. By adding word to line and color, he attempted to abolish the barrier between the 'seeing' subject and the 'perceived' object. Painting, like poetry, was for Éluard destined to disseminate truth belonging to both the real and the imaginary. In his love lyrics "woman" performs as a liberating force. Love, to Éluard, was a kind of revolution of the spirit, binding one soul to another, to achieve universal solidarity through joy. His last anthology is titled Poémes Politiques (1948). Eluard died of a heart condition in 1952 in Charenton-le-Pont.


These pleasant short poems, unlike the pacifistic oriented poems of the last decades, speak of the homecoming of a war weary veteran. In reading of Éluard's life, one learns that he was in the French army in World War I, and then again during World War II served again in the French army and the resistance against the Nazis. Therefore, peace was defined by Éluard as an aftermath of war and captured in these short poems as the various joys of that homecoming which he too must have experiences first- as well as second-hand.



Poems for the peace

The women all are happy,
reunited with their men - as the sun rises,
bringing such warmth.
It laughs and says a tender good day,
before embracing such wonder.

Splendid, the chest swells lightly,
my sainted wife, you are with me, better than that time
where with him, and him, and him, and him, and him,
I held a rifle, a canteen - our life!

All comrades of the world,
O! my friends!
It is better that at my round table
My wife and my children sitting,
O! my friends!

After the crush of the crowd,
you fell asleep in that crowd.
Now you shall have only one breath close to you,
as your wife shares your bed
and worry you much more than a thousand other mouths.

My child is capricious -
All his whims are allowed.
I have a beautiful vain child
Who makes me laugh and laugh.

Work of my ten fingers and work of my head,
work of God, work of an animal,
my life and our hope for all our days,
Nourishment and our love.

My beauty, we must see flowering
The white rose of your milk.
My beauty, soon you will be a mother,
Make a child in my image…

For a long time I had a useless face,
But now
I have a face to be loved,
I have a face to be happy.

I need a lover,
An amorous virgin,
A virgin in a gossamer gown.

I dream of all the beauties
who walk the night,
so calm,
under a moon which passes overhead.

All the flowering of the fruits lights my garden,
Trees for beauty and trees for fruit.
And I work and I am alone in my garden.
And the sun burns a dark fire onto my hands.




The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.


Poèmes pour la paix