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Les quatre premiers textes ci-dessous, tous courts, ont été inspirés par des ateliers d’écriture poétique à l’université auxquels j’ai participé (‘For Saint-Exupéry’) ou que j’ai animés moi-même (les trois autres). Ces poèmes ont été suscités par des consignes : écrire un poème avec le mot ‘graveyard’ (‘For Saint-Exupéry’) ; écrire un poème commençant par ‘Are you ready to’  (‘Are You Ready’) ; écrire une villanelle (‘Summers in Nettlebed’) ; et des quatrains sur le thème de la découverte (‘New Vaccine’, thème inspiré par le poème de Brian Patten, ‘The Small Dragon’, qui commence : ‘I’ve found a small dragon in the woodshed’). Ces trois derniers poèmes ont été écrits pendant l’atelier, car je fais moi-même les exercices que je donne à faire aux étudiants et j’écris avec eux en temps réel. J’ai ainsi animé des ateliers d’écriture poétique pour des étudiants anglicistes de Licence 3 plusieurs fois depuis 2016, soit dans le cadre du Printemps des Poètes à l’Université d’Artois, co-organisé avec ma collègue Mireille Demaules, nos bibliothécaires et nos agents du Service culture, soit en tant que séances « hors cadre ». J’ajoute – à la suite de Louise Glück, qui affirme dans l’introduction à Proofs & Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994) que sa poésie et son travail académique puisent à la même source – que pour moi, aussi bien l’enseignement que la recherche tels que j’essaie de les pratiquer, sont eux-mêmes des processus profondément créatifs. Le dernier poème est une chanson (cf. la source, ci-dessous). Claire Hélie et Élise Brault m’ayant gentiment invité à l’occasion d’un atelier POEM dédié à la poésie en dialecte à l’Université Sorbonne-Nouvelle Paris 3, à réciter un poème, j’ai choisi les paroles de ‘Gunman’, prononcées comme un poème. Il s’agit d’une sorte d’imitation affectueuse (en aucune manière une parodie) de Linton Kwesi Johnson, dont j’ai abordé son ‘Inglan is a Bitch’ en cours.

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1For Saint-Exupéry

2Saint-Exupéry spent his summer holidays as a boy by Agay Bay on the south coast of France: this is the bay mentioned in the first line of the poem. As a young man he failed to get in to Naval College. During his National Service, however, the future author of The Little Prince found himself cut out to be an airman.

3Now, at noon, this bay is calm enough,
You would not guess what terrors lurk beneath.
Yet I have known the headwinds lash and rouse
The sea to fury such as made me fear
Those sleeping on the shore might wake up dead...
Here, where he swam and fished his boyhood summers,
I’ve come to understand his destiny:
He thought it was the sea rejected him -
The beckoning horizon’s siren song,
The oil-skinned sailors’ salt and tarry language,
The screeching, swirling, grey-white gulls above him -

From these he flew, from these he moved away.
His waves were cumuli, his sea the sky.
His longing was to seize life from on high,
To look back down on earthbound, human limits -
Landmarks, coastlines, palms and matchstick pines,
The well-defined expanses of the oceans -
His exigency reached beyond the stars
That wormed their glowing way inside his head,
Then formed his only wreath:
That final flight, his graveyard was the ether.
There he set his spirit free for flight,
And no cartographer on earth could tie him down.

4Are You Ready?

5Are you ready to fly? asked the magician.
I can’t, said the frog, I have no wings.

Are you ready to run? asked the magician.
I can’t, said the dolphin, I have no legs.

Are you ready to sing? asked the magician.
I can’t, said the fish, I have no voice.

Are you ready to fight? asked the magician.
I can’t, said the kitten, I can only play.

Are you ready to go? asked the magician.
My roots are here, said the man, I’m dug in.

Are you ready to fall? asked the magician.
I’m ready, said the autumn leaf, I’m hovering.

Are you ready to walk? asked the magician.
I’ll walk, said the tree, I’m moving.

Are you ready? asked the magician.
You can fly, he told the frog.
You can run, he told the dolphin.
You can sing, he told the fish.
You can fight, he told the kitten.
You can go, he told the man.
I’m glad, said the leaf.
I’m glad, said the tree.

6Summers in Nettlebed

7Summers in Nettlebed when days were long,
I felt as though they’d never end.
We followed our star, always sang our song.

Some things we did were right, and others wrong,
But all we had we’d give, we’d share or lend,
Those summers in Nettlebed when days were long.

The teachers and grown-ups whom we lived among –
Our wills some tried but couldn’t break or bend,
We followed our star, always sang our song.

I never talked much, mainly held my tongue,
Wrote dozens of letters I never did send,
Summers in Nettlebed when days were long.

Adults would say, you’re lucky to be young,
We just went our own way, never set a trend,
We followed our star, always sang our song.

Happiness means knowing where you belong.
If you like, you can make the past your friend.
Summers in Nettlebed when days were long,
We followed our star, we always sang our song.

8New Vaccine

9I’ve found a new vaccine, experimenting
in my lab. Been looking for one
for years. The world needs it,
It’s time people recovered.

We all looked for this antidote.
I kept in touch with colleagues
all over the world. When I finally
made my discovery, we don’t believe you,

They said. It doesn’t stand
up, they said. Hasn’t got an earthly. Not serious.
So I call them up on Teams. They
laugh in my face. Could they be envious?

They wanted to be first, but now they’re last.
I remain calm. I explain my method.
I wait to see if any of them will say:
Congratulations! Can I help? Can I join you?


11you bettah give up on de gun man
give up on de knife
you bettah have some innocent fun man
mek a bettah life

you know dat roadrunner lifestyle
don’t do you no good
you bettah chuck it on de junk pile
dat’s got to be understood

you bettah give on de plug man
s’nothin’ I ever dug man
you bettah start relatin’
go easy on de speed-datin’

you bettah clean up on your act man
give up on de drink
dat’s a fact man
Or you know you’re gonna sink

time to relocalise
time to deglobalise
forget de instant gratificashun
make room fi imaginashun
stay whey from dem county lines
or you’ll end up wid a face like Frankenstein’s
don’t do no more cuckooin’
or it’ll jus’ be your undoin’

you bettah give up on de gun man
give up on de lies
don’t wanna be out on de run man
hidin’ out in disguise

don’t go near dat gated community
you ain’t got diplomatic immunity
slow down, goin faster and faster
turn round dis ecodisaster
respect dis life dis planit
get out of dat dirty bedsit
Brexit up to our necks in it
jus’ text it, or don’t text it

you bettah give up on de gun man
give up on de knife
you bettah have some innocent fun man
make a bettah life

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Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Adrian GRAFE, « Five Poems »e-Rea [En ligne], 20.1 | 2022, mis en ligne le 15 décembre 2022, consulté le 29 mai 2024. URL : ; DOI :

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Adrian GRAFE

Université d’Artois
Adrian Grafe BA (Oxon) is an English professor at Université d’Artois. A poetry specialist, he has published monographs on Gerard Manley Hopkins and Emily Dickinson, and edited or co-edited several multi-author essay collections in book or journal special-number form. He is a Fellow (Corresp.) of the English Association. He recently took over from Sara Greaves and Pénélope Galey-Sacks as co-director with Claire Hélie of the Poets and Poetry panel at the SAES annual congress. In 2021, Claire and he co-founded, along with several other colleagues, the learnèd society LOOP, affiliated to the SAES, which aims to foster interest in English-language poetry in France. His poem ‘Peacock Pie’in Paris’ was published in We’ll Never Have Paris, Andrew Gallix (ed.), Repeater: London, 2019, pp. 430-432, ISBN-13: 978-1912248387. The Spectator published his sonnet sequence ‘I Remember Arras’ on September 11, 2021. Adrian wrote and sang twelve songs for the CD album Forgiving World(2021) made with, and produced by, French musician Mylène Douriez. Three song-lyrics from the CD appear in his article ‘Degrees and Limits of Expressibility in Popular Music’ in the online journal DCLP/Singing and Telling the Passions, September 2021, ISSN 2804-0074, Adrian is also the author of the novel The Ravens of Vienna (Addison and Highsmith/Histria Books, La Vegas, Nevada, 2022; ISBN-13:‎ 978-1592111381).
Adrian Grafe, diplômé de l’université d’Oxford, est Professeur des universités en littérature des pays anglophones à l’Université d’Artois. Spécialiste de poésie, il a publié des monographies sur Gerard Manley Hopkins et Emily Dickinson, et dirigé ou co-dirigé plusieurs recueils d’essais multi-auteurs sous forme de livre ou de numéro spécial de revue. Il est Fellow (Corresp.) de l’Association anglaise. Il a récemment succédé à Sara Greaves et Pénélope Galey-Sacks en tant que co-directeur avec Claire Hélie du séminaire Poets and Poetry au congrès annuel de la SAES. En 2021, Claire et lui ont cofondé, avec plusieurs autres collègues, la société savante LOOP, affiliée à la SAES, qui vise à favoriser l’intérêt pour la poésie anglophone en France. Son poème « Peacock Pie in Paris » a été publié dans We’ll Never Have Paris, Andrew Gallix (dir.), Repeater : London, 2019, p. 430-432, ISBN-13 : 978-1912248387. The Spectator a publié sa séquence de sonnets « I Remember Arras », le 11 septembre 2021. Adrian a écrit et chanté douze chansons pour le CD Forgiving World (2021) réalisé avec la musicienne Mylène Douriez et produit par celle-ci. Trois textes de ces chansons apparaissent dans son article « Degrés et limites d’expressibilité dans la musique populaire » dans le journal en ligne DCLP/Singing and Telling the Passions, septembre 2021, ISSN 2804-0074, .php/revue-dclp/. Adrian est également l’auteur du roman The Ravens of Vienna (Las Vegas, NV : Addison and Highsmith/Histria Books, 2022; ISBN-13 : 978-1592111381).

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Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

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