Il y a une armoire à peine luisante

This is a heart-warming poem from Francis Jammes, about the everyday, ordinary experience of being so completely at ease with one’s surroundings that they become an extension of oneself. The poem is about the poet’s dining-room and all that is in it. When you have lived in a place for enough time, maybe a childhood home or a home that has been in the family for generations, everything about it is completely familiar; you could close your eyes and find your way around with no problem. The smells, sounds and feel of every object, piece of furniture, wall, door or window are almost extensions of yourself. This is the comforting picture which Jammes paints in this poem.


Il y a une armoire à peine luisante
qui a entendu les voix de mes grand-tantes
qui a entendu la voix de mon grand-père,
qui a entendu la voix de mon père.
À ces souvenirs l’armoire est fidèle.
On a tort de croire qu’elle ne sait que se taire,
car je cause avec elle.

Il y a aussi un coucou en bois.
Je ne sais pourquoi il n’a plus de voix.
Je ne peux pas le lui demander.
Peut-être bien qu’elle est cassée,
la voix qui était dans son ressort,
tout bonnement comme celle des morts.

Il y a aussi un vieux buffet
qui sent la cire, la confiture,
la viande, le pain et les poires mûres.
C’est un serviteur fidèle qui sait
qu’il ne doit rien nous voler.

Il est venu chez moi bien des hommes et des femmes
qui n’ont pas cru à ces petites âmes.
Et je souris que l’on me pense seul vivant
quand un visiteur me dit en entrant :
— comment allez-vous, monsieur Jammes ?

From <;

The cupboard which has been part of the lives of the poets forbears and ancestors talks to him; the wooden cuckoo which he feels should be talking to him; the old sideboard with its evocative smells of wax, meat, bread and pears, accumulated over the years, is like a faithful servant. Visitors think the poet must be lonely to live alone in such a place, but his companions are the familiar objects which have been part of his life for many years.

This is not a poem written by a young man, it is a man who has learnt to appreciate what life has brought gim and who finds happiness and fulfilment in the ordinary things of everyday life. A wise man, indeed.

The Poetry Dude


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