Aurélie Filippetti | Allegory


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,

Jersey, Guernesey,

In Belgium

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.

Settled down.

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.


Aurélie Filippetti

Translated by Charleyne Biondi

[Original in French here]


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