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Home | 2016 | November

Quote and image of the month

Quote of the month

Winter Coming On [1]

Sentimental blockade! Levantine shipping lines!…
Oh the fall of rain! Oh! the fall of night!
Oh! the wind!…

All Saints' Day, Christmas, and the New Year;
Oh, in the drizzle, all my chimneys!…
of the factories…

One can't sit down any more, all the benches are wet;
believe me, it is completely finished until next year;
All the benches are wet, all the woods are mouldering,
all the hunting-horns have blown 'ta ta', 'ta tara'!…

Ah, storm clouds run along the shores of the Channel,
you have spoiled our last Sunday.
It is drizzling;
In the damp forest the spiders' webs
sag beneath the drops of water, and that is their ruin.

Jules Laforgue (1860-1887), 1886. Symbolist / Impressionist poet. The metre and rhymes are remarkable, but cannot be rendered in English (at least by this weak-willed translator, ©FoS), so see the French original below. We've spared you the rest of the poem, with its 'white sun like a gob of spit in a seedy bar-room' (soleil blanc comme un crachat d'estaminet) – but T.S. Eliot enjoyed and took inspiration from Laforgue: 'The muttering retreats | Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels | And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells' (Prufrock).

Image of the month

Place de Madeleine, après la pluié

Édouard-Léon Cortès (1882-1969), Place de Madeleine, après la pluié, c. 1950-1960. Image: Heritage Auctions , Dallas. Cortès is styled a 'post-Impressionist'. It takes a lot of skill to paint as inexactly as this. By the time he painted this he'd had a half century of practice and made a good living from painting Parisian street scenes.

Our readers in the southern hemisphere will need to forgive us for our northern hemispheric bias in the seasons.

References

  1. ^ L'hiver qui vient

    Blocus sentimental ! Messageries du Levant !...
    Oh, tombée de la pluie ! Oh ! tombée de la nuit,
    Oh ! le vent !...

    La Toussaint, la Noël et la Nouvelle Année,
    Oh, dans les bruines, toutes mes cheminées !...
    D'usines....

    On ne peut plus s'asseoir, tous les bancs sont mouillés ;
    Crois-moi, c'est bien fini jusqu'à l'année prochaine,
    Tant les bancs sont mouillés, tant les bois sont rouillés,
    Et tant les cors ont fait ton ton, ont fait ton taine !...

    Ah, nuées accourues des côtes de la Manche,
    Vous nous avez gâté notre dernier dimanche.
    Il bruine ;
    Dans la forêt mouillée, les toiles d'araignées
    Ploient sous les gouttes d'eau, et c'est leur ruine.

    Jules Laforgue, 'L'hiver qui vient', online.