The Last Line of a Poem by Pierre Béarn: ‘Métro Boulot Dodo’

Many of us confront the monotonous modern cycle of commuting (métro) and working (boulot) until we’re ground into sleep (dodo). There’s a French idiom that nicely sums up the life of the Sisyphean commuter: Métro Boulot Dodo [me-tro boo-lo doh-doh].

In English, we might say: “eat, work, sleep, repeat.” But nah… it sounds more existentially despairing in French.

France’s anti-work slogan was inspired by a 1951 poem collected in “Couleurs d’Usine” (Factory Colors) by Pierre Béarn, a French writer who died in 2004 at the ossified age of 102. The full line of the poem is even more nihilistic.

Métro boulot bistrots mégots dodo zéro.

Subway, work, bars, cigs, sleep, nothing.

This idler’s anthem comes from the last line of the first stanza in Béarn’s poem:

Au déboulé garçon pointe ton numéro
Pour gagner ainsi le salaire
D’un énorme jour utilitaire
Métro, boulot, bistro, mégots, dodo, zéro.

Translated into English it reads:

Rush in boy punch your number
Thus to earn the salary
Of a dreary utilitarian day
Subway, work, bars, cigs, sleep, nothing.

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