Saturday, July 14, 2012

Etat Francais



image borrowed from bing


Etat Francais
Despite the ongoing love affair
most Americans have had
with France since the 1950’s, 
with Gene Kelly pirouetting across the Seine, 
with Jackie Gleason miming Gigot,
with Jacques Tati re-inventing physical comedy,
with Jerry Lewis becoming an icon, 
I have always been fascinated with the bloody blot
that the French carry on their twentieth century souls,
after the crack Nazi war machine had defeated
their ill-equipped provincial Army, during
that dark period from July 1940-August 1944,
when the Vichy Regime,
led by the 84 year old WWI hero,
Marshall Philippe Petain, created
a semi-fascist state patterned after
Franco’s fascista in Spain,
began to collaborate with the Bosche,
helping to round up Jews and other “undesirables”--
like teachers, poets, intellectuals, and homosexuals,
and sometimes used their puppet military forces
to fight and sabotage the Allies.
Sadly, ironically, the majority of the French people
supported, or tolerated Vichy rule in order
to maintain a degree of national autonomy. 
Historians favored Charles de Gaulle,
the highest ranking officer in the French Army
who officially resisted the surrender of his country,
who fled to England to create
“the French government in exile”;
but my poetic blood has always been stirred
by the guerrilla bands of resistance fighters,
the Free French movement, who fled
to the mountainous areas of Brittany and southern France,
to those dashing brave Basque-beret wearing warriors--
the Maquis,
who helped and hid downed Allied flyers
and runaway fleeing Jews,
who attacked the Germans within
every corner of their occupied country,
who were labeled “terrorists”
by the cowardly corp of Vichy authorities--
thankfully many of which were executed
for war crimes, collaboration, treason
and complicity during the Holocaust;
yet, as with the post-war Nazis on trial,
the majority of the Vichy treacheries,
injustices, cruelties, inhumanities,
and treasons were never fully paid for--
the Fascists became mist, just ghosts
hidden in plain sight, blending masterfully
back into the work pants of the proletariat,
just a shameful vermillion stain on 
the war-torn pages of French history;
but for some reason a throbbing part of me
cannot forget or forgive that cruel capitulation,
that terrible time of evil deeds
when most of France gave in
to their basest of natures.
Glenn Buttkus
July 2012
Posted over on dVerse Poets-Poetics

Would you like to hear the author read this poem to you?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow, yes a historical viewpoint. Thanks. gardenlilie.

Brian Miller said...

smiles...it is usually the freedom fighters that inspire me as well...those willing to stand in the face of tyranny or...at the risk of their own lives for others...very nice bit of history you have spun for us today glynn...

Manicddaily said...

Thanks so much Glenn. You know, I had a very close friend, now dead, whom I wrote about once - who was one of these Resistance fighters. He saved a bunch of U.S. paratroopers and was later awarded the key to Tupelo, Mississippi. He dressed the paratroopers as nuns and snuck them on the train He was briefly imprisoned and got out pretending to be mad. He was a wonderful great person. Great poem. k.

J Cosmo Newbery said...

Yes, we must remember history. But to carry it just tires our spirit.

Orange UaPoet said...

i wonder if there is a Resistance museum in Paris to detail their bravery and achievements...the Vichy are clearly the darkest stain on France's 20th century. Thank you for crafting this.

lucychili said...

i hear this as a person in the world
wondering how we each are complicit in the injustices of our time. wars and domestic inequalities.

kkkkaty said...

I appreciate he history lesson today among the other stories and poetry..and agree with the last comment as well...nicely written.

robkistner said...

So when will the freedom fighters stand in this country, and take to the hills, and prepare to fight the good fight -- for I fear a tyranny, a repression of the "every man", a destruction of the middle class, a war on the needy in this country, is brewing just over that closest horizon... and doing nothing will plunge us into a brutally modern iteration of fascism, that the more we abide it, the more difficult it will be to eradicate... an attack on the "common good" is being prepared by the "elitist few", and they have duped scores of those they're targeting to take the steps required to bring them to power -- it is an insanity I find incomprehensible...

Adrian Sechrist said...

That was a time when Benjamin Franklin's statement "those who would trade freedom for temporary security deserve neither Freedom nor security" rang particularly true. That truth was ironic too because of the close relationship Franklin had with the French during the early days of our nation. It almost seems to have been prophetic.

Nice writing Glenn,
Adrian

kidney stone treatment said...

Such inspiring words to spread.

flipside records said...

I sent you an e-mail today, Glenn. I hope you'll come write me a poem:

http://flipsiderecords.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/poetic-words-3/

~Shawna
(formerly rosemary mint)

flipside records said...

I love this section of your poem:

"the Fascists became mist, just ghosts
hidden in plain sight, blending masterfully
back into the work pants of the proletariat,
just a shameful vermillion stain on
the war-torn pages of French history;

but for some reason a throbbing part of me
cannot forget or forgive that cruel capitulation,
that terrible time of evil deeds
when most of France gave in
to their basest of natures."