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Are there any native French speakers here? I need help with this translation.

How would you translate this poem?"

Peace cries out to be While violence lashes enmity Will we have eyes to see, Ears to hear, strength for unity?

May 20, 2020



La paix crie à être Pendant que la violence crie l'inimitié Aurons-nous des yeux pour voir, des oreilles pour entendre, une force pour l'unité?


I'm not a native speaker, but this is what I got (with some help from Google): La paix crie pour être tandis que la violence crie l'inimitié Aurons-nous des yeux pour voir, des oreilles pour entendre, une force pour l'unité?


Here is my try at it as a native French speaker, C1 in English : "La paix s'échine à exister tandis que la violence répand l'inimitié. Aurons-nous yeux pour voir, oreilles pour entendre, la force pour créer l'unité ?"

Please note that you should avoid using "crie à être" which is a word-by-word translation hardly understandable in French.

Also, "while" could be translated either as "pendant que", "alors que", or "tandis que" depending on what you really mean, what you want to emphasize.


I don't think that this wants "pendant". I agree that the meaning here is closer to "tandis que" or even "néanmois". I think "exister" is definitely better than "être" for its significance, although, to be fair, the most common French translation of Hamlet's famous soliloquy does begin with "Etre, ou ne pas être : telle est la question" so you could make an argument for être. The nice thing about "exister" here is that it comes closer to rhyming with inimitié and unité.

I respectfully disagree with s'échine here, unless I misunderstand that word. I think of it as strive, or making a great effort to achieve something. But then maybe that's what the author was going for here. Sometimes I misinterpret poetry. I think you read that first line as "Peace attempts to exist" whereas I read it as "Peace announces that it needs to exist." If you are correct, then s'échiner is probably a better choice.


In my opinion the verb "peiner" which means struggle in English, could me more suitable than "s'échiner" as peace is a state.


Note that "Pendant que" is also used to compare or contrast 2 things, even though the main meaning is "in the meantime". E.g : "Les MC deviennent riches avec des rimes pauvres, pendant que la variét' fait du chiffre avec de la guimauve".
Also note that "être ou ne pas être" rolls on the tongue. "S'échine à être" would be ok at writing but would sound a bit off.

I understood "cries out to be" as if the Peace, personified, needs to shout to exist. Maybe you're right and the author wanted to say that Peace only have to declare itself to exist (if that is what you meant).

"Lashes" is a hard one too. Not really glad of "répand". "Faire déferler" is a bit heavy and clumsy, but if we had a single verb for it, it would be the perfect match.


"Lashes" is a hard one too.

haha. I agree. Here, there is also room to misread it. Lash can mean to beat something ("fouetter"), but I don't think that it what is meant here. It can also mean to secure something ("attacher") as in lashing an object to the rails of a ship during a storm. I don't think that is meant here either.

Since "enmity" means hostility or antagonism, and since violence is already hostile by nature, then I assume that lash is used positively. I think you must also, since répand means, more or less, the same as propager or diffuser in this sense.

I was thinking about the verb susciter. Does this word have the correct sense here? (as in, violence engenders enmity, or violence arouses enmity.)

Translating rhyming poetry is very difficult. More difficult than newspaper articles, histories, or prose.


Bonjour à tous, En tant que Français natif je traduirais cette phrase sous une forme plus philosophique. "La paix s'évertue à exister tandis que la violence s'efforce de répandre l'inimitié. Aurons-nous des yeux pour voir, des oreilles pour entendre, de la force pour créer l'unité ?" Bonne journée Thierry


I'm no expert or poet in either language, but I reckon you've nailed it. You've made it sound naturally French. Seems to me like the source material is (English?) poetry beyond my meagre intellect or a clumsy translation from another language (or actually originally French?). Either way, have a lingot on me for satisfying my own inability to find the right words/constructs.


Je suis un amoureux de la littérature et des belles lettres. La musique classique est mon autre passion. Heureux de vous avoir rendu service. Bonne journée.

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