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I crossed the bridges into Esse
That's where it all began alas

An ancient lay from Lyonesse
Tells of a wounded knight’s distress

Of a rose trampled in the press
Of a fine lady’s unlaced dress

Of a mad duke in his fortress
With moat and swans keen to impress

Of an always betrothed princess
Dancing across the sunlit grass

And I saw like snow lying on glass
The endless lie of glories past

The Loire flows on thoughts leave no trace
Past trucks gutted and driverless

Weapons made safe under duress
And tears undried on every face

O France betrayed without redress
I crossed the bridges into Esse

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About the translation:
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Louis Aragon
Terence Cave
Original language:
Series 3 No. 3 - Metamorphoses

Original poem

About the authors


Louis Aragon

Louis Aragon, born Louis Andrieux (October 3, 1897 – December 24, 1982), was a French poet, novelist and editor, a long-time p...

» Read more


Terence Cave

Terence Cave is Emeritus Professor of French Literature in the University of Oxford and Emeritus Research Fellow of St John's C... » Read more


J'ai traversé les ponts de Cé
C'est là que tout a commencé

Une chanson des temps passés
Parle d'un chevalier blessé

D'une rose sur la chaussée
Et d'un corsage délacé

Du château d'un duc insensé
Et des cygnes dans les fossés

De la prairie où vient danser
Une éternelle fiancée

Et j'ai bu comme un lait glacé
Le long lai des gloires faussées

La Loire emporte mes pensées
Aves les voitures versées

Et les armes désamorcées
Et les larmes mal effacées

Ô ma France ô ma délaissée
J'ai traversé les ponts de Cé


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