Following on from my series of illustrated poems, I have drawn a melancholic woman whom the poem ‘It rains in my heart’ by French poet Paul Verlaine evokes for me.
Drawing inspired by a picture by Brent
It rains in my heart
As it rains on the town,
What languor so dark
That soaks to my heart?
Oh sweet sound of the rain
On the earth and the roofs!
For the dull heart again,
Oh the song of the rain!
It rains for no reason
In this heart lacking heart.
What? And no treason?
It’s grief without reason.
By far the worst pain,
Without hatred, or love,
Yet no way to explain
Why my heart feels such pain!
Paul Verlaine, Il pleure dans mon coeur (translation by A. S. Kline)
(In answer to the question, “what is poetry?”)
To range all memory and to fix all thought ;
To hold it poised in balance on a beam of gold,
Uncertain, tremulous, yet all immovable;
To eternalize one moment’s reverie ;
To love and seek the true, the beautiful;
To sing, to laugh, to weep, without much cause;
To make of sigh, of word, of smile, of look,
A work exquisite, full of grace and charm;
To fashion from a tear a lustrous pearl:
These are the fond desires of poet’s heart;
These are his wealth, his life, and his ambition’s
Alfred de Musset
in The complete writings of Alfred de Musset, translated by George Santayana, Emily Shaw Forman, Marie Agathe Clarke.
I have drawn a view of a public garden in Nice, in the French Riviera. I think it is both beautiful and sad with an old knobbly tree with tangled branches in the foreground and behind it the statue of a huddling woman.
The melancholic side of the scene reminds me the spleens by poet Charles Baudelaire. I have read again The Flowers of Evil and found a few lines from the poem The Mask that describe what my drawing tries to express:
— O sad great beauty! The grand river, fed
By your rich tears, debouches in my heart.
Though I am rapt with your deceptive art,
My soul is slaked upon the tears you shed.
And yet why does she weep? Such peerless grace
Could trample down the conquered human race.
What evil gnaws her flank so strong and sleek?
She weeps because she’s lived, and that she lives.
Madly she weeps for that. But more she grieves
(And at the knees she trembles and goes weak)
Because tomorrow she must live, and then
The next day, and forever — like us men.
Charles Baudelaire, excerpt from the poem The Mask (in Roy Campbell’s Poems of Baudelaire)
This week, the subject of Illustration Friday website is mysterious. I have searched what it could evoke me and soon the poem “To a Woman Passing By” by French poet Baudelaire has started resonating in my head. I have drawn my vision of this poem. On a Paris street, at the very moment the poet’s eyes meet the captivating eyes of a stranger, he falls in love.
To a Woman Passing By
The deafening road around me roared.
Tall, slim, in deep mourning, making majestic grief,
A woman passed, lifting and swinging
With a pompous gesture the ornamental hem of her garment,
Swift and noble, with statuesque limb.
As for me, I drank, twitching like an old roué,
From her eye, livid sky where the hurricane is born,
The softness that fascinates and the pleasure that kills,
A gleam… then night! O fleeting beauty,
Your glance has given me sudden rebirth,
Shall I see you again only in eternity?
Somewhere else, very far from here! Too late! Perhaps never!
For I do not know where you flee, nor you where I am going,
O you whom I would have loved, O you who knew it!
Charles Baudelaire (translation by Geoffrey Wagner)
Guillaume Apollinaire was a French poet. In a poem called calligram, the letters’ arrangement has a meaning. Here is an extract of the collection of poems Calligrammes:
This calligram is carved on Apollinaire’s grave. The poet is buried in Père-Lachaise Cemetery in Paris.
The text in French is: Mon Cœur pareil à une flamme renversée
The translation in English could be: My Heart like an inverted flame