Must post my annual tribute.
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?
It is fifty years ago today that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and the memory of that shocking, sad and terrible time is still strong. School closed, and along with all the other children I was sent home early, not entirely comprehending what had happened, until I met my father, also home unexpectedly early. It was the first and only time I saw him cry.
I post today a link to my husband’s art blog, with his own memories of that time, and a painting he created for this anniversary (detail below).
My husband, a fellow artist, has recently launched a blog to show a selection of his art—photographs, drawings, paintings, and sculpture—and he is now permitting me to share the news. I encourage you to check out his beautiful and varied work. This is an image from today’s post.
In honor of my husband’s birthday, I post a sketch of him on holiday, painting, which is something I hope he will find more time to do as he fulfills his ongoing quest for retirement.
He shares this birthday with writer Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), and so I post a poem that speaks eloquently, and appropriately, of the overlooked and sleeping poet universally within.
Ami, tu l’as bien dit: en nous, tant que nous sommes,
Il existe souvent une certaine fleur
Qui s’en va dans la vie et s’effeuille du coeur.
“Il existe, en un mot, chez les trois quarts des hommes,
Un poète mort jeune à qui l’homme survit.”
Tu l’as bien dit, ami, mais tu l’as trop bien dit.
Tu ne prenais pas garde, en traçant ta pensée,
Que ta plume en faisait un vers harmonieux,
Et que tu blasphémais dans la langue des dieux.
Relis-toi, je te rends à ta Muse offensée ;
Et souviens-toi qu’en nous il existe souvent
Un poète endormi toujours jeune et vivant.
Friend, you have spoken well: in us, such as we are,
There frequently exists a certain flower
That blossoms, fades and from the heart its leaves are shed.
“In three quarters of mankind, you understand,
A poet has died young yet outlived by the man.”
Well said, my friend—but a little too well said.
You didn’t pay attention, laying out your thought,
That your pen made poetry then and there, unsought.
In his own tongue you took Apollo’s name in vain.
I betray you to your injured Muse: Read again,
And remember that in all of us there often keeps
A poet young and vibrant, who is not dead, but sleeps.
—Alfred de Musset