Home > Personal Posts > Je suis Charlie

Je suis Charlie

This blog is only about books. But it’s also a place where I’m free to talk about books. And I cherish my liberty of speech. So today, after the vile killing at Charlie Hebdo’s, I want to share with you a poem by Paul Eluard, Liberté. Every time a journalist is killed on duty, a part of our liberty dies with them. Eluard wrote this during WWII, while fighting against evil and I feel like that’s what we’re doing now.

Sur mes cahiers d’écolier
Sur mon pupitre et les arbres
Sur le sable sur la neige
J’écris ton nom

Sur toutes les pages lues
Sur toutes les pages blanches
Pierre sang papier ou cendre
J’écris ton nom

Sur les images dorées
Sur les armes des guerriers
Sur la couronne des rois
J’écris ton nom

Sur la jungle et le désert
Sur les nids sur les genêts
Sur l’écho de mon enfance
J’écris ton nom

Sur les merveilles des nuits
Sur le pain blanc des journées
Sur les saisons fiancées
J’écris ton nom

Sur tous mes chiffons d’azur
Sur l’étang soleil moisi
Sur le lac lune vivante
J’écris ton nom

Sur les champs sur l’horizon
Sur les ailes des oiseaux
Et sur le moulin des ombres
J’écris ton nom

Sur chaque bouffée d’aurore
Sur la mer sur les bateaux
Sur la montagne démente
J’écris ton nom

Sur la mousse des nuages
Sur les sueurs de l’orage
Sur la pluie épaisse et fade
J’écris ton nom

Sur les formes scintillantes
Sur les cloches des couleurs
Sur la vérité physique
J’écris ton nom

Sur les sentiers éveillés
Sur les routes déployées
Sur les places qui débordent
J’écris ton nom

Sur la lampe qui s’allume
Sur la lampe qui s’éteint
Sur mes maisons réunies
J’écris ton nom

Sur le fruit coupé en deux
Du miroir et de ma chambre
Sur mon lit coquille vide
J’écris ton nom

Sur mon chien gourmand et tendre
Sur ses oreilles dressées
Sur sa patte maladroite
J’écris ton nom

Sur le tremplin de ma porte
Sur les objets familiers
Sur le flot du feu béni
J’écris ton nom

Sur toute chair accordée
Sur le front de mes amis
Sur chaque main qui se tend
J’écris ton nom

Sur la vitre des surprises
Sur les lèvres attentives
Bien au-dessus du silence
J’écris ton nom

Sur mes refuges détruits
Sur mes phares écroulés
Sur les murs de mon ennui
J’écris ton nom

Sur l’absence sans désir
Sur la solitude nue
Sur les marches de la mort
J’écris ton nom

Sur la santé revenue
Sur le risque disparu
Sur l’espoir sans souvenir
J’écris ton nom

Et par le pouvoir d’un mot
Je recommence ma vie
Je suis né pour te connaître
Pour te nommer


On my school text books
On my desk and on the trees
On the sand, on the snow
I write your name

On all the pages I have read
On all the white sheets
Stone blood paper or ashes
I write your name

On golden images
On the weapons of warriors
On the crown of kings
I write your name

On the jungle and on the desert
On the nests on the brooms
On the echo of my childhood
I write your name

On the marvels of the nights
On the white bread of the days
On the engaged seasons
I write your name

On all my azure chiffons
On the sunlit mildewed swamps
On the lake, living moon
I write your name

On the fields of the horizon
On the wings of birds
And on the mill of shadows
I write your name.

On every whiff of dawn
On the sea and on boats
On the demented mountain
I write your name

On the foam of clouds
On the sweat of storms
On the fat and faded rain
I write your name

On the scintillating forms
On the bells of colours
On the physical truth
I write your name

On the awakened paths
On the open roads
On the overflowing plazas
I write your name

On the lamp which is lit
On the lamp which is switched down
On my united houses
I write your name

On the fruit cut in half
From my mirror and from my bedroom
On my bed, empty shell
I write your name

On my loving and greedy dog
On his pricked-up ears
On his clumsy paw
I write your name

On the latch of my door
On familiar objects
On the flow of blessed fire
I write your name

On any tuned up chair
On the forehead of my friends
On any holding hand
I write your name

On the glass of surprises
On attentive lips
Far above silence
I write your name

On my destroyed shelters
On my crumbled lighthouses
On the walls of my boredom
I write your name

On the absence without desire
On my raw solitude
On the steps to death
I write your name

On the returning health
On the disappeared risk
On hope without remembrance
I write your name

And by the power of a word
My life starts again
I am born to know you
To name you


And today, Liberty’s name is Charlie


PS: The translation is mine, sorry, I’m no poet.

Categories: Personal Posts Tags:
  1. January 7, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    I just heard the news over here.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Shocking, isn’t it?


  2. January 7, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    Around the world, we stand together to defend that liberty.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks Lisa, I’ve seen what you’ve posted about Melbourne’s reunion.


  3. January 7, 2015 at 11:12 pm

    Reblogged this on ANZ LitLovers LitBlog.


    • January 8, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      thanks for reblogging my billet, Lisa.


  4. Tredynas Days
    January 8, 2015 at 12:34 am

    Poignant words: thank you – we all share in France’s pain today


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:38 pm

      Thanks. Eluard is a fantastic poet.


  5. January 8, 2015 at 12:57 am

    Well said, Emma.


  6. January 8, 2015 at 1:54 am

    I came out of an all-day training course to hear the sad news from back home in France. I am devastated but you make a poignant link to those powerful words which have guided my own life.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:40 pm

      Well I always find comfort in literature.


  7. January 8, 2015 at 2:04 am

    I am so sorry Emma.

    Liberty and human dignity are under attack.

    This poem really says it all.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:42 pm

      I love this poem and Eluard’s a lot better than me with words.
      The world’s reaction to this is amazing.


  8. January 8, 2015 at 5:28 am

    I had hoped to wish you a bonne année today, Emma, and then I heard the awful news. Thanks for sharing Eluard’s poem. Moi, je suis Charlie aussi.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:43 pm

      I wish you a Happy New Year anyway, Richard. If what they did changes our plans, they win.


  9. January 8, 2015 at 7:28 am

    A shock to all of us


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:44 pm

      Actually, I discovered the awful news when you sent a tweet to check on me. I am still shocked.


  10. January 8, 2015 at 9:56 am

    J’étais incapable d’écrire quelque chose hier soir.
    Et je suis choquée en entendant comment en en parle en Allemagne. “Chez nous cela ne pourrait jamais arriver.” Gonflé. Incroyable. Il y a un risque que cela divise la France. Mais il y a aussi un risque que cela divise l’Europe.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:46 pm

      Sans Paul Eluard, je n’aurais pas pu publier quoi que ce soit.
      Si les commentateurs allemands pensent que cela ne peut pas leur arriver, ils se trompent. Ou alors ils n’ont pas de journaux impertinents, libres, courageux et qui prennent des risques. Et ça, c’est triste pour eux aussi.

      On verra ce qu’il en ressort. Pour l’instant je trouve les réactions plutôt dignes et sobres.


  11. January 8, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    A moving, fitting and consoling poem. Thank you. And for its translator to say “I’m not a poet” – well, one must disagree.


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      Eluard is one of my favourite poets and I’m glad I remembered this one to oppose literature to barbary.


  12. January 8, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Thank you for sharing this poem, Emma. I’ve been thinking about you, MarinaSofia and other friends in France over the last couple of days…


  13. Alvin
    January 8, 2015 at 10:28 pm

    Dear Emma, You can rest assured tonight that much if not most of the world shares France’s pain. As Tom Holland put it, “The right to draw Muhammad without being shot is quite as precious to many of us . . . as Islam presumably is to the Charlie Hebdo killers.”


    • January 8, 2015 at 10:54 pm

      I was amazed by all the messages I saw on twitter yesterday.

      These cartoonists were not racist, only free thinkers. We need people like them in our lives, otherwise everthing would be so serious.


  14. January 9, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    It is so sad and shocking what happened, Emma. Can’t believe it. I saw the news today and it showed some new shocking things. I can’t believe why this is happening.

    Thanks for posting this poem. It gave me goosebumps.


    • January 9, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks for your message Vishy.
      Let’s answer to barbarity with poetry.


  15. leroyhunter
    January 9, 2015 at 6:52 pm

    Dreadful events. Thanks for the poem Emma.


    • January 9, 2015 at 6:59 pm

      Thanks for the message.


  16. January 10, 2015 at 1:34 am

    thank you for reading my post Emma and thank you for sharing this – like you I am inspired by words. I think all of us who believe in tolerance and liberty must continue to defend freedom of speech and say no to violence in any shape or form and the Internet and social media can be wonderful tools to do this. Take care and keep writing:)


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