Friday, October 31, 2008

Fall 2008. Verlaine. Autumn Song. We weep and Sweep.

Below is an English translation of Verlaine's famous poem, Chanson d'Automne ( Autumn Song ). Now that we are waist-deep into the Fall of 2008, I thought that the sentiments expressed here are very apropo. They are, indeed, melancholy. But, for many, like myself, Fall's beauty is accompanied by a certain sense of loss captured so beautifully by Verlaine.

Of the violins
Of autumn
Wound my heart
With a languor
Monotonous.

All suffocating
And pale when
The hour strikes
I remember
The old days
And weep

And I go away
In the ill wind
that carries me off
This side and beyond
Like the
Dead leaf

When the world was in the grips of a world war, the liberation of Europe hinged on a successful landing at Normandy. The Germans knew it was coming, but when was the question. The French resistance listened to coded messages broad casted from London to occupied France by Radio Londres. The messages seemed arbitrary and nonsensical to most unless they were meant for you. On June 6, 1944, the first stanza of this poem was broad casted to let the resistance know that Operation Overlord, the invasion, would begin within 24 hours. The words, " Blessent mon cœur d'une langeur monotone " ( Wound my heart with a langour monotonous ) was the specific phrase that signalled a call to action. The rest is history.

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