A Smile Costs Nothing

I love this poem! I read it first in French.

Then in the last few years I’ve seen it floating around in English as author “unknown”.

For the record, it was published in French in 1920, almost 100 years ago by Raoul Follereau, “Le Livre d’amour” (1920). French author 1903-1977 **

So, instead of republishing what is probably someone’s translation into English a work that was originally written in French, I’m going to do something different, and do my own interlinear translation. (By the way, did I mention that I speak French?)

Un Sourire ne Coûte Rien

By Raoul Follereau

A Smile Costs Nothing

By Raoul Follereau

“Un sourire ne coûte rien et produit beaucoup.

A smile costs nothing and produces much.

Il enrichit ceux qui le reçoivent
Sans appauvrir ceux qui le donnent.

It enriches those who receive it without impoverishing those who give it.

Il ne dure qu’un instant
Mais son souvenir est parfois éternel.

It only lasts an instant, but the memory of it is sometimes eternal.

Personne n’est assez riche pour s’en passer,

No one is rich enough to go without

Personne n’est assez pauvre pour ne pas le mériter

And no one is poor enough not to deserve it

Il crée le bonheur au foyer,

It creates happiness at home,

soutient les affaires.

Stimulates business.

Il est le signe sensible de l’amitié.

It is the sweet sign of friendship.

Un sourire donne du repos à l’être fatigué,

A smile gives rest to the weary,

Rend du courage aux plus découragés.

Gives courage to even the most discouraged.

Il ne peut ni s’acheter, ni se prêter, ni se voler,

It can neither be bought, nor lent, nor stolen,

Car c’est une chose qui n’a de valeur

For it is a thing that only has value

Qu’à partir du moment où il se donne.

Beginning the moment at which it is given.

Et si parfois vous rencontrez une personne

And if sometimes you meet a person

Qui ne sait plus avoir le sourire,

Who no longer knows how to smile,

Soyez généreux, offrez-lui le vôtre…

Be generous, offer him yours…

Car nul n’a autant besoin d’un sourire

For none have more need of a smile

Que celui qui ne peut en donner aux autres.”

Than the one who is not able give one to others.

Raoul Follereau, “Le Livre d’amour” (1920). French author 1903-1977
Founder of la Fondation Raoul-Follereau which since 1967 helps and defends lepers, especially in the countries of Africa
** Read more at http://dicocitations.lemonde.fr/auteur/6355/Raoul_Follereau.php#oy4XP1hdl6XbBUFx.99


21 thoughts on “A Smile Costs Nothing

    1. Hi, Diana! Maybe you read it in French? Yes, I agree; it is a beautiful masterpiece! I thought about sharing it a long time ago when I first learned that the English poetry sites I visited had it listed as author “Unknown”. But I wasn’t sure how to go about it. I finally got a chance to sit down and think about it. Have a blessed weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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