UNESCO World Poetry Day 21st March 2024.

The poem Chanson d’ Automne by Paul Verlaine is one of the best known in French Literature. It is included in Verlaine’s first collection, Poemes saturniens, published in 1866.

The opening lines of the poem are  well known for being a coded message sent by the BBC in June 1944 on behalf of the Special Operations Executive to French resistance Groups alerting them that the invasion of France was close at hand.

The first three lines ‘Les sanglot des violons de l’automne’ were transmitted on 1st June which indicated that the invasion would begin within two weeks.

The second set of lines ‘Blessent mon coeur, D’une langeur, Monotone’ was broadcast on 5th June. It would mean that D-Day would begin within 48hrs and the resistance should begin their invasion tasks.

French English translation
Les sanglots longs
Des violons

De l’automne
Blessent mon cœur
D’une langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand

Sonne l’heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens

Et je pleure;
Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais

Qui m’emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la

Feuille morte.
The long sobs
Of violins

Of autumn
Wound my heart
With a monotonous

All breathless
And pale, when

The hour sounds,
I remember
The old days

And I cry;
And I go
In the ill wind

That carries me
Here, there,
Like the

Dead leaf.

Paul Verlaine (1844-1896)