Dear Artistic Director Jean-Pierre Siméon,

Ladies and gentlemen,

The Minister accompanying the President of the Republic in India, she asked me to launch today with you the fifteenth edition of the «Spring of Poets». I’m very happy about that.

The “poets' spring” has become an institution, a solid, regular manifestation, rooted in our culture.

And yet there is still something mobile, something independent when we mention it. It is a breath of freedom that comes with it and takes us away. Why this feeling of freedom? Because it is a new impulse each time; a spring that has another light, another angle, another dimension, another breath. A new spring, this year again. With «Les voix du poème» which is the chosen theme. All these voices that have been singing in us for a long time, more or less consciously, since childhood, but also those that we will hear, listen everywhere during these ten days. Readings made by specialists, actors or strangers, in the dark, in the light of the stage, the forecourt or the darkness of the waiting rooms, on squares or on trains.

For a poem must be said: it is the only, the best way to love it, to remember it. It is the very intention of the poet who whispers to himself in order to modulate, to test the music for himself, for others, for this borderless world to which he addresses. It is both very intimate and very wide, very high and very deep, it goes from the mind to the heart, it unites the mind and the heart, it combines the earth and the air. The air of all those spaces where they will be told.

Like French Language Week in March, the festival of poetry is an opportunity to highlight the language, the languages that inhabit our words and to gather around a genre that is both scholarly and popular, all generations, all cultural institutions, libraries, cinema, theatre, very diverse places that form as a path of education in art and culture. The work that is done throughout the year by teachers, the mediators, the librarians to make accessible the works of the poets participate in the national arts education project which mobilizes the Minister of Culture and the Minister of National Education, both of whom support the event, but also the local and regional authorities that are, like the State, mobilized on this issue.

I want to commend the "Cities in Poetry" initiative, "Villages in Poetry," which was officially launched in the Senate a few weeks ago.

It is wonderful to see these communities mobilize for the simple love of worms; wonderful to see so many teams working with such passion. There is no longer an old and a new one, a distinction between real and virtual, between professions, regions, between end and origin: poetry operates this miracle of a kind of solidarity, creates a link between citizens, between beings. Thanks to the spring of poets, France itself becomes a poem.

I would like to commend the work of the CNL Poetry Commission, which was able to resume its work under the chairmanship of Philippe Beck last October.

A France that welcomes poems from elsewhere, especially the great figure of Pablo Neruda, whose 40th anniversary of his death, poet of things and simple people, poet of the resistance, Poet of the sea, whose name is forever associated with the greatest artists, like Mikis Theodorakis who set the Canto General to music.

I am proud and happy, together with the Ministry of Culture, in partnership with the MEN, to launch the fifteenth edition of the Spring of Poets and to be able to say that our support for this beautiful event does not waver.

I wish everyone an excellent 2013 edition and place poets and poetry!

By Pablo Neruda

a small page of quartz

by keeping your eyes on life.

I bought some goodness, I dated

the marketplace of jealousy, I breathed

the deadliest waters of envy, the inhuman

hostility of masks and beings.

The world I lived in was marine swamp:

the flower suddenly, the lily suddenly

devoured me in his shiver of foam,

and where I put my foot my heart slipped

to the teeth of the abyss.

Thus was born my poetry, barely

torn from nettles, grabbed on

loneliness as a punishment,

or who in the garden of impudence removed from it

his most secret flower to the point of burying it.

So isolated like black water

who lives in his deep corridors,

from hand to hand, I was drifting towards exhaustion

of everyone, towards daily hatred.

I knew they lived like this, hiding

half the beings, like fish

of the strangest ocean, and I saw 

death in the immensity of mud.

Death that opened doors and paths.

Death sneaking into the walls.

(extracts: General chant, Les fleurs du Pinataqui, p.381
Gallimard, Collection Poésie. )


Flower the swamp and source the rock:
Your soul beautifies out what it touches.

The flesh passes but your life remains whole,
in my blood and silk poetry.

We must be gentle on all things;

the jackal is worth less than the butterfly.

You are a worm working and elaborating
and for your cocoon grow mulberry trees.

To let you weave your heavenly silk
The city looks quiet and pleasant.

Worm at work, suddenly you’re old;
The pain of the world enrages your rings!

To death is your naked soul
that is winged, sour or dove!

The earth, it; keep your acts blank,
worm, my companion, your silks untouched.

Live at dawn and live at sunset,
loves the tiger and the corpuscle,
understand the pulley as much as the muscle!

Exhaust your days, brother, companion,
not in the divine but bound to the human,
not in the stars but in your hands.

For the night will come that will change you
on land, in the wind or on fire.

For this let your doors soften,
let under their hanger enter all winds.

Open your garden to the passing,
Give the traveller the flower of your life!

Don’t be hard, ladre, stubborn,
make yourself fruitadelle, without hooks or hedges!

We must be gentle and offer ourselves to all,
to live there is no other way

to be gentle. To offer oneself to others
as sources are available to the earth.

Don’t be afraid. Don’t think.
Give and give again.

The one who offers himself has no end:
it houses in it the divine pulp.

As are offered without end, brother, brother,
the waters of rivers to the sea!

That in your sight my golden song that desire.

May your noble will make clear what you see.
May your life follow this path.