This poem is taken from Stand 215, 15(3) October - November 2017.

Jacques Prevert Poem
When someone alive kills himself…
 
When someone alive kills himself, among the living there is a great to-do.

As when the house goes up in flames, or one baptizes the baby, or inadvertently crushes the cat under the baby-carriage.

– We saw him so often, a smile on his lips, with a glass in his hand, and he has killed himself, it’s hardly credible...

– And why would he do it?...

And all set about finding responses.

Peculiar and lifeless question, peculiar and lifeless responses.

Often, people demand what they call the Truth: incoherently but avidly their eyes beg you to lie to them.  Many among them live pretending, and these pretences are more necessary to them than bread, water, wine, love or their shoe-laces.

By chance and mischance and by concurrence of circumstances, privileged childhood, fall on his head, finally anything, he who longs and is able to escape from this frightful way of living, and who knows that beyond the platform the tickets are still valid, since he has taken no ticket strives to live otherwise, strives to live livingly.

Sometimes he succeeds.

And as others demonstrate movement by walking, he demonstrates happiness by being happy.

And he becomes accustomed to this life.

But almost everyone unites against the living living.

And this is the chorus of the contemptuous: ‘Look at him, he lets himself live and doesn’t give any Reasons!’

Sometimes the living one gets fed up with it.

Sometimes a being who adores life kills himself still fully alive and smiles at life as he dies.
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