Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Last poem

It's Jane's fault really. Earlier this week she linked to this song from the film Les choses de la vie. If you like French "songs" (you know that spoken singing that the French manage so well -- you know one of these days I'm going to learn French and launch a career as a singer) and melancholy songs, then this is the track for you... as delicious as pressing into a bruise (sorry for that image).

That got me into thinking of other sad songs which I enjoy so much. And when I mean sad, I don't mean operatic sad, which is exultantly sad, but exactly the melancholy of chanson. Of course, some of what makes these songs so affecting is within the songs, but some is also within the listener: memories, associations, thinking about what you've been through - perhaps with a "thank goodness that's over" - but reliving it in the process. Perhaps I'll share my full list (it's actually pretty short right now, six tracks, but I'm working on it).

But for now I wanted to share this one. But be warned, proceed with caution. This melancholia is contagious!

"I Have Dreamed of You so Much"
Robert Desnos, Terezina Concentration Camp, May 1945

I have dreamed of you so much that you are no longer real. Is there still time for me to reach your breathing body, to kiss your mouth and make your dear voice come alive again?

I have dreamed of you so much that my arms, grown used to being crossed on my chest as I hugged your shadow, would perhaps not bend to the shape of your body. For faced with the real form of what has haunted me and governed me for so many days and years, I would surely become a shadow.

O scales of feeling.

I have dreamed of you so much that surely there is no more time for me to wake up. I sleep on my feet prey to all the forms of life and love, and you, the only one who counts for me today, I can no more touch your face and lips than touch the lips and face of some passerby.

I have dreamed of you so much, have walked so much, talked so much, slept so much with your phantom, that perhaps the only thing left for me is to become a phantom among phantoms, a shadow a hundred times more shadow than the shadow the moves and goes on moving, brightly, over the sundial of your life.

(Translation from here.)

* * *

And now head over here to hear Sophie Auster sing it:


P.S. Sophie Auster uses portions of her father's translation of this poem.

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