Thesis Title

If You Read It: The Poetry of Marie Melisou in Translation

Date of Graduation

Summer 2009


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

Jane Hoogestraat


Marie Melisou, French, poetry, translation, contemporary French poet

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


This thesis presents a translation into English of a selection of poetry from the contemporary French author Marie Melisou. Highly prolific and widely read as an author of children's literature, Melisou has not received comparable fame for her poetry for adults. Melisou has published two books of poetry under editions Encre Vives; Dodeliner d'Indociles Idees and D'Ombres et d'Oscillations, in addition to multiple poems on a variety of internet locations. Prior to this thesis, the author's work for children has appeared in translation in Polish and Portuguese, but not English. Why translate this particular poet's work into English? Melisou uses her poetry to examine itself on many levels: as a writer evaluating her own writing, as a woman reviewing her relationships, and as an adult questioning her life. Melisou presents answers or possibilities of a response to these questions in a verbal tapestry of individual images woven together into an intriguing fabric. Each disparate image or sensory experience joins the others in creating a dimensional whole that must be examined from different perspectives. Although all of the poems translated here are available on the internet, an appropriate translation that maintains the soul of the original work is not. In bringing this body of poems into English from French, I hope to introduce the textured and unique voice of the poet in a way that stays as true to the author's intent and structure as possible. Maintaining as many of the conventions of her style as translation allowed, I strove to present Melisou's poetry as she might, without the imposition of my own stylistic changes. These poems share the pain and delight of one person's life that speak to a universal experience. In these French phrases, we can all find the beauty of life that crosses national boundaries.


© Jennifer Leigh Smith