FROM SUMMER TO SUMMER
xxxxxxxxx(To a young girl
xxxxxxxxxxTo a House
Through summers listless in each yard,
Summers which pour down their ennui in silence
Under the ancient sun of my afternoon
Made ponderous through silence,
By loners, lost in visions of love:
Loving beneath the wisteria, its shade
Gracing the yard of some peaceful house
Hidden beneath branches
Spread across my own distances
And my own infantile summers:
Those who dream of love or weep for childhood.
It is you, it is you who have come to me,
This afternoon which lies
Baking in its avenues,
Come with a white parasol
And with a look of surprise,
Quite solemn as well,
And a little bent over,
As in my childhood
You might be, beneath a white parasol.
And of course you’re surprised that,
Without planning to have come
Or intending to be blond,
You have suddenly found yourself
Here in my path,
And as suddenly you have brought
The freshness of your hands,
While bringing in your hair all the summers of the earth.
You have come
And even my sunniest dream
Could never dare imagine you so beautiful,
And yet, right here and now,
I recognise you.
Right here and now, up close to you,
And how proud you are, and such a proper damsel,
A little gay old woman on your arm;
And it seems as if you choose to lead,
At a leisurely pace surely, and practically
Beneath your parasol, me to the summer-house,
Yes, and to my childhood’s dreamy place.*
To some peaceful house with nests in its roofs,
While, within its yard, wisteria shadows the doorstep,
Some lovely building with two
Turrets and maybe a name
Like the titles of those prize-awarded booksWe used to enjoy in July.
See, you have come to spend the afternoon with me,
Where? Who knows? In The Turtle-Dove House?
You are going in, you are entering,
Through all the sparrows’ chit-chat on the roof,
Through the shadow bars of the gate that shuts behind us,
Shaking down the petals of a climbing rose:
Light petals, balmy and burning: snow-coloured,
Gold-coloured, flame-coloured, fluttering
Down onto flower-beds, borders with green benches,
And down each allée festooned as if for a saint’s day.
I’m coming too, we are tracing, together
With your dear old thing, this oh so lovely allée.
It’s where, this evening, your dress,
On our return, will gather up softly
Scents that are coloured by your tresses.
And then to be allowed, the two of us,
In the dark of the drawing room,
Such meetings as enable us
To celebrate the ritual of sweet nothings.
Or beside you now, reading near the pigeon loft,
On a garden bench where the chestnut
Wafts its shade, using up the evening
Reading to the coo of those doves who are startled
Merely by the turn of a page.
Let’s choose a novel of some noble age,
Or Clara d’Ellébeuse,
Stay out there, till supper, until nightfall,
Right up to the time when pail gets drawn from well,
And on cooling paths the play of children can’t help but amuse.
It was there, to be near to my ‘far away’ fair
I was going, and you never came,Though my dream was to dog your steps,
But only my dream ever got to you,
Got to that castle, where sweetly vain,
You were the châtelaine.
It was there that we were going surely,
That Sunday in Paris, along that lointaine
Avenue made to comply with our dream?
More silent, ever more lengthy, and empty ever after . . .
And then, on some deserted quay, on a bank of the Seine,
And then after that, even closer to you, in the boat,
To the quiet purr of its motor through the water . . .
Here is a link to Alain-Fournier’s Poems
and here is a link to my short essay on Alain-Fournier published by the Journal of Poetics Research