Mort pour la France (et les autres pays)

Lots of people blogged about Remembrance Sunday, but I held back as I knew that I’d be going to the ceremony at the war memorial in St Just today.

 

11th November is a bank holiday in France, and so there is a ceremony on Remembrance Day…unfortunately, in the eight years that we’ve been attending, we have noticed the number of attendees becoming fewer and fewer. Usually there are more children too, but there weren’t so many this year. There were some from the local school who read out the names on the memorial, but, apart from them and Flynn and India, my friends’ children, that was about it.

 

I made poppies for us to wear

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and we walked over to the memorial. As usual, we were early, so we spent 15 minutes or so going round the cemetary righting the pots of flowers from 1st November that had been blown over.

 

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Flynn alerted us to the fact that the “procession” (a rather rag, tag and bobtail affair) was on its way, so we went down to the memorial where people were gathering

 

 

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The Sapeurs-Pompiers, the veterans (mostly now from the Algerian wars, the Mayor and Chairperson of the Conseil Générale, plus some school teachers & children, gathered at the base of the memorial, where they laid their bouquets – no wreaths of poppies here, but rather bouquets of flowers, dressed in the blue, red and white of France –

An example of the type of flowers laid: not from our ceremony

Speeches from the President were read out, and then the children recited the names of those from St Just who died in WW1 – I recognised many of the surnames as those from around the village today . A minute’s silence and then a recording of the French version of The Last Post. We finished with La Marseillaise and an invitation to drink a toast in the Mairie. We scuttled home for hot chocolate/ coffee and biscuits however (no biccies for me, I’m fasting!)

(a wheat border, because, so one of my students told me, wheat is sometimes featured in Remembrance Day stickers rather like poppies for the British)

Albert-Paul Grenier (03.09.1888 – 17.08.1917)

One of France’s war poets

FrenchPoetFirst WorldWarWEBa

Par les chemins gluants qui viennent
du fond des plaines,
les gens s’en vont, comme des fous,
comme des fous qui seraient sages
les gens s’en vont vers n’importe où…

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Par les ravins crépus, d’horreur échevelés,
où les obus aigus mordent à crocs avides,
des cadavres blêmis crispent leurs poings rigides
sur le Néant obscur près d’eux agenouillé.

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La mort, soûle et joyeuse, danse,
et gambille et se déhanche,
la mort muette se trémousse,
et joue et jongle avec des crânes,
Comme avec des osselets

Basdly translated (I fear!) through Google Translate (and me!)

By sticky paths coming
from the very ends of the plains,
people go like madmen,
like madmen who would be wiser
 to go anywhere but here …

By wave-like ravines of frenzied horror
where greedy shells  bite with sharp fangs 
blanched corpses clench their rigid fists
on dark nothingness near them kneeling.

Death, drunk and happy, dances,
gambols and sways,
Silent death writhes
and plays and juggles with skulls,
As if playing with five-stones.

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2 Responses to “Mort pour la France (et les autres pays)”

  1. Pom Pom Says:

    I’m going to wear my poppy today, too.

  2. magsmcc Says:

    We had the first ever Remembrance service at City hall that was attended by a Sinn Feinn Lord Mayor, so peace is still being waged here. Thankfully x