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Brian Ogilvie | all galleries >> Galleries >> My favorite photos > Mural and poem (Alechinsky and Bonnefoy)
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12-MAR-2005 Brian W. Ogilvie

Mural and poem (Alechinsky and Bonnefoy)

Rue Descartes, Paris (5e), France

The mural is by Pierre Alechinsky. The poem, by Yves Bonnefoy, is more or less as follows (my translation):

look at this great tree
     and through it,
That can be enough.

For even rent and sullied,
     the tree of the city
is all of nature,
     all the heavens,
the bird alights there,
     the wind moves there, the sun
there expresses the same hope in spite
     of death.

if you are lucky enough to have the tree
     in your street,
your thoughts will be less arduous,
     your eyes more free,
your hands more desirous,
     at least at night.

Addendum, July 27, 2005: This page has had many more visitors than other photos in this gallery. If visitors would leave a comment or e-mail me a note about how they got here or what they like about this photo, I would be thankful!

(December 13, 2011: I had translated "déchiré, souillé" as "torn up, sullied," but on reflection, I think "rent and sullied" is a little better.)

Nikon Coolpix 5700
1/206s f/4.2 at 29.5mm iso100 full exif

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Joel Lazewatsky 19-Jul-2012 01:17
We stayed in an apartment across the street from this mural on Rue Decartes (and the Lycee it's on) for a week in 2008. It greeted us each time we returned and the picture brings that time to mind. My French is so-so and in checking my translation, I found your site. I like your translation much better than mine....
Thank you!
Guest 07-Mar-2009 16:28
You asked why so many visitors to this photo - I will be traveling to Paris this spring. In checking the neighborhood where I will be staying on googlemaps, I saw this mural which intrigued me. A searched for "alechinsky bonnefoy mural" led me to your site. Thanks so much for the translation! Your photos are beautiful - makes me even more excited to be in Paris soon.