Louis Aragon 1954

Stanzas in Remembrance

Source: Le Roman Inachevé, 1954, Paris, Gallimard;
Translated: by Mitch Abidor;
CopyLeft: Creative Commons (Attribute & ShareAlike) marxists.org 2007

Aragon wrote this poem in honor of the resistance fighters of the Manouchian Group on the occasion of the naming of a street in Paris in their honor – MA.

You asked for neither glory nor tears,
Not the sound of the organ or the prayer for the dying;
Eleven years already, how quickly they pass, eleven years;
You did naught but use your weapons:
Death doesn’t dazzle the eyes of partisan.

Your portraits were on the walls of our cities,
The black of beards and night, wild-haired, threatening;
The poster seemed like a stain of blood, and
Because your names were so hard to pronounce
It sought to strike fear in those who passed.

No one looked on you as French by preference,
The whole day people passed without a glance;
But at the hour of curfew
Wandering fingers wrote under your photos:
And the dismals mornings were no more the same.

All had the uniform color of frost
At the end of February, at your last moments;
And then it was that one of you calmly said:
I wish happiness for all, Happiness for those who will survive
I die without hatred for the German people.

Adieu pain, adieu pleasure, adieu roses
Adieu life, adieu light and wind;
Marry, be happy and think of me often,
You who will remain among the beauty of things
When things are over later in Erevan.

A great winter sun illuminates the hill
How beautiful is nature, and how my heart breaks;
Justice will follow upon our triumphant steps
My Melinée, oh my love, my orphan girl,
I tell you to live and to have a child.

They were twenty-three when the gun barrels blossomed,
Twenty three who gave their hearts before their time,
Twenty three foreigners and yet our brothers,
Twenty three who loved life to death;
Twenty three who cried out “La France” as they were struck down.