April is National Poetry Month … and it’s also the month spring hits Oklahoma in earnest (although after yesterday, we are kind of wondering about that.)
The cheery tulips in our front flower bed made us think of this poem by William Carlos Williams, an American poet from New Jersey:
The Tulip Bed
The May sun–whom
all things imitate–
that glues small leaves to
the wooden trees
shone from the sky
through bluegauze clouds
upon the ground.
Under the leafy trees
where the suburban streets
with houses on each corner,
tangled shadows had begun
the roadway and the lawns.
With excellent precision
the tulip bed
inside the iron fence
upreared its gaudy
yellow, white and red,
rimmed round with grass,
Today is Poem in Your Pocket day, a day when the Academy of American Poets invites you to carry your favorite poem around and share it with friends, family, coworkers … even strangers!
So today I’d like to share one of my favorites with you: Last Poem by Robert Desnos.
Desnos was a French surrealist poet who was an active member of a French resistance movement during World War II, printing false identity papers and collecting information to useful to the resistance. He was arrested by the Gestapo in 1944 and died the next year in a concentration camp. It is said that this poem, a revision of one he’d written earlier to his wife, was found on his body after his death.
J’ai tant rêvé de toi,
tant marché, parlé, couché avec ton fantôme
qu’il ne me reste plus peut-être,
et pourtant, qu’à être fantôme parmi les fantômes
et plus ombre cent fois que l’ombre
qui se promène et se promènera allégrement
sur le cadran solaire de ta vie.
I have so fiercely dreamed of you
And walked so far and spoken of you so,
Loved a shade of you so hard
That now I’ve no more left of you.
I’m left to be a shade among the shades
A hundred times more shade than shade
To be shade cast time and time again into your sun-transfigured life.
Last known photo of Desnos in the Theresienstadt concentration camp (1945)