Chanson d’Automne


Autumn Song or Chanson d’automne is a famous poem by Paul Verlaine; one of the best known in the French language. It was published in Verlaine’s first collection, Poèmes saturniens, published in 1866.

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l’automne
Blessent mon cœur
D’une langueur
Monotone.

It translates as: “The long sobs / Of the violins / Of Autumn / Wound my heart / With a monotonous / Languor.”

The poem earned its place in history during World War II. In preparation for Operation Overlord, the British had signalled to the French Resistance that the opening lines of Chanson d’Automne were to indicate the start of D-Day operations. The first three lines of the poem, “Les sanglots longs / des violons / de l’automne”, meant that Operation Overlord was to start within two weeks.

These lines were broadcast on 1 June 1944.

The next set of lines, “Blessent mon coeur / d’une langueur / monotone”, meant that the main operation would start within 48 hours and that the French resistance should begin sabotage operations especially on the French railroad system.

These lines were broadcast on 5 June at 23:15 – the rest is history.

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