The Revolution was a young woman, flamboyant and rebellious
She wore her excesses, her carmine lipstick, carnivorous, as if stained by the blood sometimes shed,
Her charcoal eyes from the soot of the barricades,
She danced before the old world and made it lose its mind,
Igniting all the peoples of the world,
It was Cromwell’s England, it was Washington’s America
But it was mostly, it was mostly France, and Paris, and 1789.
The Revolution changed the order of things and overthrew the privileges
She refused the suitors
She preferred her freedom
She loved to sing, and her songs went around the world
When an ambitious beau from Corsica made a pass at her with an Empire, she took refuge in Literature.
She felt trapped, seduced but elusive
Never conquered, always inaccessible
She had other loves and didn’t want to be exclusive
Who grasps all, loses all, she never found a fiancé worthy of her
She was always disappointed, always cheated,
Those who promised marriage and eternal love wanted her docile, submissive, standing behind her stoves
She was suspicious.
In 1848 however, she still wanted to believe
But ultimately was the victim of the same family curse
Decidedly, she had to be wary of the young Napoleons.
She made herself little, went into exile, shrunk, on the Channel Islands,
In those refuges of great men not yet transformed into a paradise for tax exiles
She consoled herself in the warm, always generous arms of Victor Hugo,
He brought her back to Paris, triumphant, to slum it on the pavements of the Butte aux Cailles, with the Communards
She liked the lusty lads of the people,
And Louise Michel was her best friend
When she saw her go to the galleys with their comrades, her hair turned grey at once.
She would never forget.
Resigned to her fate, a marriage of convenience with the Republic,
Third in name.
Started knitting, for the children of Liberty, her eldest daughter,
Great laws and beautiful victories
Secular, free and mandatory public schools, freedom of association, of the press, workers unions…
But the 20th century came
The young girl was no longer: Victor Hugo was dead and Jaurès had been murdered
She went to face the great Russian winter
Yet even her oldest passion, her greatest love, Karl Marx,
Had advised against it.
She couldn’t resist.
Saw all her handsome friends of 17 fall one by one , carried away by the Stalinist turmoil.
She couldn’t take it anymore.
Didn’t have the strength
Weakened, defenseless, she was assaulted and bullied
Trampled by the totalitarians of the 30s who didn’t even hesitate to steal her name.
She was done with politics.
May 68 was her swan song
It was magic, she lived a second youth
Was this the last time she would shiver, distraught, in lovers’ arms?
The trauma was still too sharp.
She watched her lover move away.
She kept her last strength for her sisters, the women, the great forgotten
She gave them her energy and made them her heirs
And she continues today: #MeToo, she cries,
I too was abused
By all who, with Leopardi
Wanted to seduce me the better suffocate me
Sang my beauty for one purpose only:
That everything changes so that nothing does.
Translated by Charleyne Biondi
[Original in French here]