Saturday, March 8, 2014

Je Ne Regrette Rien

“La vie en rose” were the first words I ever heard in the French language.  It was love at first hearing.  Those were lyrics of a song, but to me words in the French language are always musical.  The word for “song” in French: chanson.

I turned 21 in France, courtesy of the U.S. Army.  I should have taken more advantage of the opportunity.  Years later, I lived in Belgium, a bi-lingual country because of tight quarters with its neighbors, France and Holland.  By then, I had a family.  We took a weekend, the American Thanksgiving holiday, and rented a cabin in the Ardennes and kayaked a few miles of the Lesse River past les chateaux high on the banks to Dinant.  Afterwards we feasted at a restaurant offering  lapin, caille, canard, cuisses de grenouille.  When we returned to the cabin, we watched stunned and puzzled at the reports on French television of the cyanide laced Kool Aid suicides in Jonestown, Guyana, that day.  Serious doubt plunged our language skills to to the level of failure, because we could not comprehend the acts about which we thought we were hearing.

I will be 70 years old my next birthday.  Maybe.  At 62, I was hospitalized with meningitis and in a coma for three weeks.  I suspect that is as close as anyone gets to dying, then can tell about it.  I am telling you, it was painless and trouble free for me.  For my loved ones who had to watch and wait, it was not.  Since then, I have also had quadruple bypass heart surgery.  If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself. 

La vie en rose.”  Non, ce n’est pas.  Of course.

Parents sometimes get to bury their children.  It is not supposed to work that way, but even the expected sequence of events is not much better, “Hush, little baby.  Don’t you cry.  You know your mama’s bound to die.”

Songs are poems, with music.  The oldest poems were all songs.  Oh, how I love poets and songwriters.

Edith Paif, chanteuse, made “La vie en rose” famous worldwide.  Her style was charismatic, brave, ironic. 

Long Afternoon at the Edge of Little Sister Pond
By Mary Oliver

As for life, 
I'm humbled, 
I'm without words
sufficient to say

how it has been hard as flint, 
and soft as a spring pond, 
both of these
and over and over, 

and long pale afternoons besides, 
and so many mysteries
beautiful as eggs in a nest, 
still unhatched

though warm and watched over
by something I have never seen— 
a tree angel, perhaps,
or a ghost of holiness. 

Every day I walk out into the world
to be dazzled, then to be reflective.
It suffices, it is all comfort—
along with human love,

dog love, water love, little-serpent love,
sunburst love, or love for that smallest of birds
flying among the scarlet flowers.
There is hardly time to think about

stopping, and lying down at last
to the long afterlife, to the tenderness
yet to come, when
time will brim over the singular pond, and become forever,

and we will pretend to melt away into the leaves.
As for death,
I can't wait to be the hummingbird,
can you?


aunt said...

Very nice post, Bill. I was not able to get to it somehow when you first posted it.

aunt said...

Very nice post, Bill. I was not able to get to it somehow when you first posted it.


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