The greatest French poet of last century was Jacques Prévert (1900-1977) [pictured right and below]. His reputation in that regard was established with the publication of his book Paroles (a volume of his collected poems) in 1945.
What I particularly love about Prévert's poems is his ability to capture a single moment, or a succession of single moments, of the eternal now---for all time. Take, for example, his poem ‘Alicante’:
So many of Prévert’s poems are set in Paris, especially the Paris after World War II. Many concern love ('Love is so simple,' he wrote). One finds in almost all of his poems that typically French post-War existential angst and disillusionment but there is also an almost surreal touch to some of his writings. As respects the latter, there is no surprise there as Prévert was once (albeit only for a short period) a member of the Surrealist movement.
Here is Prévert’s poem ‘Paris de nuit’ (‘Paris At Night’). As you read the six lines of this poem you can actually see and feel the present moment renew itself into the next present moment and so forth:
Un cheval s'écroule au milieu d'une allée
You get the same directness and immediacy of the present moment--frozen in time and space---in the poem 'La Belle Saison' (English title: 'Summer'):
A jeun perdue glacée
Now, here is his poem ‘Le jardin’ (‘The Garden’):
Ne sauraient suffire
I will let Jacques Prévert have the final word. It's about happiness. 'Even if happiness forgets you a little bit, never completely forget about it.'