French Poetry Translation Competition by #OxOnSong Project

Francis Jammes on a wooden chair holding a walking stick

Part of the Humanities Cultural Programme


French Poetry Translation Competition

In the lead-up to our #OxOnSong weekend this autumn, we would like you to provide a translation into English of this poem by Francis Jammes, which was set to music by Lili Boulanger.

Elle était descendue…

Elle était descendue au bas de la prairie,
et, comme la prairie était toute fleurie
de plantes dont la tige aime à pousser dans l’eau,
ces plantes inondées je les avais cueillies.
Bientôt, s’étant mouillée, elle gagna le haut
de cette prairie-là qui était toute fleurie.
Elle riait et s’ébrouait avec la grâce
dégingandée qu’ont les jeunes filles trop grandes.
Elle avait le regard qu’ont les fleurs de lavande.


Try and make it work for the music as well as the words. There is an example of the French text being sung here

There are two categories for entries:

  1. 17 years old and under
  2. 18 years old and over

Thanks to generous sponsorship from Oxford University Press (OUP) we will be awarding several prizes in book tokens including a top prize of £100 in each of the two categories. Please indicate which category you are entering.


Deadline for your entries: 5 P.M. Wednesday 30th September

Please note, the original deadline has been extended.

Rules and Regulations: 

1. Your entry must be in English, your own unaided work, and not borrowed from an existing translation (you may of course use a dictionary). 

2. Please send all entries as a pdf document with the email titled with both ‘OxOn Song Poetry competition’ and the category you are entering (either 17 years and under, or 18 years and over) to

Judging is anonymous. Your name and address must not appear on the pieces entered, nor any other marks that could identify you. Please identify yourself in the body of the email, not the attached entry itself. Only entries that are sent as anonymous pdfs in correctly titled emails can be accepted.

3. Maximum one entry per person. 

4. The closing date is 5 P.M., Monday 7th September 2020. The winners will be notified by 5 P.M., Monday 5th October 2020. 

5. TORCH reserves the right to publish the top three entries from each category on our website and social media channels ad infinitum. Authors may also publish their pieces elsewhere. 

6. We will not enter into any correspondence about the winner or entries, nor will we make changes to entries received. Incomplete submissions will not be accepted. The judges’ decisions will be final. Your entry in the competition means you accept these rules.

7. We will abide by good practice in the running of this competition, but cannot be held responsible for circumstances beyond our control such as being unable to access our website services. Prizes may be withheld or altered if we receive no outstanding entries, or insufficient entries.

8. Entry is FREE. No entry form is needed. 

9. Notification of receipt of entry will be by email.

10. Entries cannot be altered or substituted once they have been entered.

11. Entry is taken to be acceptance of these rules.

12. Plagiarism in any form will not be tolerated. 

13. This essay competition is international and welcomes entrants in English from all countries.

14. Entering or winning the competition does not confer a lasting association of any kind with TORCH.

15. In the body of your email, please indicate to which category you are applying.