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Poetry of Direct Personal Experience
Our Collection of Aviation and Military Poetry

Michel Sardou

Sometimes a word or phrase in a particular language resonates so deeply, touching emotions that can only be expressed and fully understood in that language and by its own native people for they are part of what makes that people uniquely who they are. 'Gettysburg' is such a word for Americans, 'Waterloo' and 'the Somme' for the British, 'Monte Cassino' for Poles. For the Australians and New Zealanders it might be Gallipoli, and for the French it most probably is the word 'Verdun', a small part of the northern French landscape where the flower of its youth died in WWl.

'Tout homme a deux pays, le sien et puis la France. ['Every man has two countries: his own and France' attributed to Charlemagne by Henri de Bornier]

Here, in a brilliant evocation, the French maestro of chanson, Michel Sardou expresses emotions that run deep in every French heart.

Pour celui qui en revient

Verdun c'était bien

Pour celui qui en est mort

Verdun c'est un port

Mais pour ceux qui n'étaient pas nés

Qu'étaient pas là pour apprécier

C'est du passé


Un champ perdu dans le nord-est

Entre Epinal et Bucarest

C'est une statue sur la Grande Place

Finalement Verdun

Ce n'est qu'un vieux qui passe

Même si l'histoire nous joue souvent

Le mouvement tournant par Sedan

C'est du passé

C'est la chanson des partisans

C'est 1515 c'est Marignan


Une guerre qui s'est perdue sans doute

Entre Biarritz et Knokke-le-Zoute

C'est un statue sur la Grande Place

Finalement la terreur

Ce n'est qu'un vieux qui passe

Pour ceux qu'on n'a pas revus

Verdun n'est plus rien

Pour ceux qui sont revenus

Verdun n'est pas loin

C'est un champ brûlé tout petit

Entre Monfaucon et Charny

C'est à côté

C'est une sortie dans le nord-est

Sur l'autoroute de Reims à Metz

On y va par la Voie sacrée

Finalement Verdun

C'est un vieillard rusé

J'ai une tendresse particulière

Pour cette première des dernières guerres


Bien sûr que je n'étais pas né

J'n'étais pas là pour apprécier

Mais j'avais un vieux à Verdun

Et comme je n'oublie jamais rien

Je reviens

Je reviens

Je reviens

Here is a translation based on one by John Ryan:

For he who returns from there
Verdun is good
For he who died there
Verdun is a gateway
But for those who were not yet born
That were not there to appreciate it
It's in the past

Passed away...

A lost field in the northeast
Between Epinal and Bucharest
It's a statue on the main square
In the end .... Verdun
Even so, for us history repeats itself
The turning movement by Sedan
It's the song of the partisans
It's 1515, it's Marignan

Passed away...

A war undoubtedly forgotten
From Biarritz to Knokke le Zoute
It's a statue on the main square
In the end, the terror
Is just a fading old-timer
For those we see no more
Verdun is no more
For those who have come back
Verdun is not far
It's a tiny burnt field
Between Montfaucon and Charny
It's close by
It's an exit in the northeast
On the highway from Rheims to Metz
You can get there via 'The Sacred Way'
In the end Verdun is a shrewd old-timer
I have a special affection
For the first of the 'last' wars

Passed away...

Of course I was not yet born
And was not there to appreciate
But I had an old friend at Verdun
And because I never forget
I come back...
I come back...
I come back.

Here is the maestro performing his anthem. Remember to breathe... this performance lasts over 4 minutes!

Battle of Verdun Map

Verdun Massed Weariness

Verdun Soldiers

Verdun Memorial

Verdun: The Sacred Way Marker

Graves at Verdun

Verdun graves

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 • Last Modified: 21 May 2017, 13:00