My husband doesn’t care for cake, so every year we celebrate his birthday with an apple pie. Here is this year’s model.
He also shares his birthday with Alfred de Musset (1810-1857) and so I include a poem, along with a poor translation for which I apologize. In honor of my husband’s birthday, I tried to find a jolly poem among all the melancholy meditations on de Musset’s difficult love affair with Aurore Dupin (Georges Sand); but, failing that, I include a poem set in Paris, where my husband and I lived a happier love story than did poor Alfred. (The poem’s use of both forms of second person singular shows what we’ve lost in English when we gave one up.)
Que j’aime le premier frisson d’hiver ! le chaume,
Sous le pied du chasseur, refusant de ployer !
Quand vient la pie aux champs que le foin vert embaume,
Au fond du vieux château s’éveille le foyer ;
C’est le temps de la ville. – Oh ! lorsque l’an dernier,
J’y revins, que je vis ce bon Louvre et son dôme,
Paris et sa fumée, et tout ce beau royaume
(J’entends encore au vent les postillons crier),
Que j’aimais ce temps gris, ces passants, et la Seine
Sous ses mille falots assise en souveraine !
J’allais revoir l’hiver. – Et toi, ma vie, et toi !
Oh ! dans tes longs regards j’allais tremper mon âme
Je saluais tes murs. – Car, qui m’eût dit, madame,
Que votre coeur sitôt avait changé pour moi ?
—Alfred de Musset
How I love the first winter chill! the stubble,
Under the foot of the hunter, refusing to bend!
When the magpie comes to the hay-scented fields,
In the depths of the old château the household awakens;
This is the time of the city. – Oh! when last year
I returned, I saw the good Louvre and its dome,
Paris and her smoke, and all this lovely realm
(I still hear in the wind the shouting postilions)
How I loved this gray time, these passersby and the Seine
Beneath its thousand lanterns seated supreme!
I would see the winter return. – And thee, my life, and thee!
Oh! in thy long looks I would drench my soul
I would salute thy walls. – For, who would have told me, madame,
That your heart had so soon changed toward me?