Jacques Prévert conveys a sense of separation and intense loneliness in the poem "Breakfast," or “Déjeuner du Matin,” by repetition, the placement of the words and lines, and the tone.
The poem begins by describing the action of a man who is preparing to drink his coffee. The tone is extremely impersonal. The relationship of the man to the speaker is not described and the speaker merely catalogs the man’s movements, beginning with his pouring himself a cup of coffee. It is extremely clinical, with no adjectives or descriptive words to convey anything about the people or any sense of intimacy between them.
The poem begins with “Il a mis le café dans la tasse (he put the coffee in the cup).” This merely conveys the man’s brief action. We don’t know if the coffee was aromatic or flavorful. It is unimportant. The man also apparently does not care. He is mechanically going through the motions of his daily morning ritual before leaving the house without a word to his companion.
Visually, the placement of the words underscores the short, staccato nature of the interaction—or lack thereof—between the two people, as does the constant repetition of “he placed” and of other words. Prévert repeats the words he placed (Il a mis) seven times. The poem also is set in lines of no more than five or six words, emphasizing the brevity of their impersonal encounter.
The silence between the two is so evident as the man prepares his coffee, drinks it, and lights a cigarette without saying anything to his companion (sans me parler). These are all very solitary actions, and at no point does he offer her coffee or a cigarette or even say good morning, further reinforcing the isolation and loneliness the poem evokes.