FIRST DRAFT: Dec 05, AU Edition

MATT HAYDEN
The address we like to imagine Dominique de Villepin almost gave France…
A POET SHALL LEAD US!
Noble citizens of France, I address you as your Prime Minister and as a humble poet … Many have baulked at our use of emergency powers to quell the riots. Unfortunately, they have been, how you say, necessaire. We are now down to the usual figure of 90 cars torched per day acrossFrance. Normality, she has returned.
However, we must still reflect on what has happened, non? Our great President Chirac has identified – and bemoaned – a ‘deep malaise’. Sadly, that is not all; there is also an epidemic of existential nausea. (And a literal form, too, as anyone who has walked the streets of Aulnay-sous-Bois knows only too well. Merde, quelle pong!)
So, who do we blame for such sickness, both spiritual and gastronomique?
McDonald’s…j’accuse!
The American culture of fast food and Hollywood violence has taken its toll. (We all saw those armies of rioters in their ‘hip hop’ fatigues, did we not?) This imported junk has poisoned our great nation’s soul. The body politic is aching for sustenance. So, at this grave hour, I seek spiritual food from our literary canon. (Unlike the barbarian Bush, who finds fodder for his military cannon!)
Pilgrim-like I plod through the furrowed fields of Gallic knowledge. Presently I encounter the philosopher Rousseau. Gay sparrow perched atop his head, leopard purring contentedly at his feet, he offers his wise counsel: “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains.”
Yonder kneels Voltaire, trowel in hand. “Dominique, let me be Candide,” he says. “Cultivate your garden.”


It is all so clear! We must make our savages noble once again. We, the intelligentsia, must spill from the salons and travel to our cities’ outskirts to nurture nature in those concrete caverns. We must plant trees therein; make the deserts of the destitute bloom – even at the risk of soiling our smocks!
Then I think of those smouldering Citroens and wonder: but why such hate? It is so not Nice.
Pondering this dissonance, I muse: Yet is ze hate not ze love denied? And does a flame not create as well as destroy? ’Tis true, this fiery river of gall flows from the angry liver of Gaul. But we must not douse this flame; we must harness its heat; create a crackling conflagration in the hopeful hearth of the heart! (Is good analogy, non?)
So, what will ignite this bold new night; consign the ire to a purer pyre? What will hatch this matchless match, to make our suburbs superb?
Blaze moi! I have it: poetry itself!
Let us fight poverty with poetry. Poetry lifts the fallen man; inspires him to build an empire only within himself.
And so to my answer to our great predicament: From this day forth every household in the nation will receive a copy of my collected works. Nightly reading is compulsory.
Vive la France!