À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from the cold leaky garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red slashes
along that riotous, silent rue.

I am not, he whispers, a fool, but a madman,
trying to see exactly what I feel.
And if I’ve taken more than I’ve given
that’s poor payment for the pleasure,
but it’s all that I am
and is what I have to give back.

This is the painting referred to in the post. It is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.


“Bastille Day” by Claude Monet. A painting of Rue Montorgueil, Paris, Festival of 30 June 1878.

Luckily, I was able to see the original the last time I was in Paris. Surprisingly, it was not at the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house. In fact, we found it quite by accident at (I think, the details are somewhat hazy now) the Orangerie Museum, a delightful spot that I highly recommend—after, of course, one has spent the obligatory time at the incredible Musee d’Orsay.

I should point out that English speaking people generally translate ‘adieu’ (the more common, modern spelling) as simply ‘goodbye’ or ‘farewell.’ In French it is much more nuanced than this. It means, literally, ‘to God’ and has a much greater sense of finalism and formality to it, and betokens death or complete separation, often as a result of staunch honor or sacrifice. In other words, ‘my fate is with God; it is in the Hands of the Almighty when next we shall meet again.’

Thank you for reading À Dieu. I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it and I humbly appreciate your visiting the Book of Pain. As always, I look forward to your comments.


© 2013 by John Etheridge; all rights reserved. This poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original work found on this site, unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed under the license is: © 2013 by John Etheridge, https://bookofpain.wordpress.com.


Filed under Poetry, Uncategorized

14 responses to “À Dieu

  1. Great poem, and great art! Thanks for sharing. I will follow your blog and return to read more, for sure.

    I have a new writing blog that I created after self-publishing my first novel for the Kindle. Please check it out and share your writing experiences with me!

    • Thank you for the compliment! And congratulations on publishing Of a Greener World! Your excitement and pride (as it should) rings through.

  2. Good work, John. I like a number of pieces in this poem, but this was good:
    ‘i am not,’ he whispers, ‘a fool,
    but a madman, searching
    for what it fells like as i see it. Okay, John, Take Care.

  3. Beautiful poetry and, of course, the painting. I love impressionism and I have tried, not very successfully, to implement it in poetry. This is something I want to aim for. I feel life is mostly actually impressions, seldom really clear… Thank you for such a wonderful post, John.

  4. The poem is amazing – that is the sort of thing I wish I had the skill to write. Brilliant piece of work.

  5. John, I saw your comment on my friend Simon’s blog, popped in for a read and was very happy I did! Beautiful work. And I love that you went on to talk about your inspiration and thoughts on the piece. Congratulations. Forty.

    • Forty,

      Thank you! Loved your site too and followed your blog. I am looking forward to much more of your work!

  6. John, do you have a post where you talk about what the writing process is like for you? I explain in the latest post on successful blogging that I’m starting a series on this, and am collecting tidbits from writers and poets to quote them (along with their link).

  7. HW, No, not really, but it is something that another friend and I have been discussing lately. I’ll send you a direct email tonight.

  8. This is fantastic. Absolutely vivid imagery, excellent pace.

    Are you publishing these anywhere but on this site? You definitely should be.

    • John, ah, well, no, although I will confess that stage one of my nefarious plot for world domination was to start a poetry blog to get all the poems out of their notebooks and, well, sort of ‘finalized.’. Step 2 is to do an e-book, something I hope to do this winter. But beyond that, no. It is not that I am lazy (well, not ‘just’ that I am lazy). I needed the sense of how other people see my poetry to see if I should try for wider publication. Plus, if ever I do a poetry book, I wanted to also publish a short vignette about each…something I have always thought lacking in books of poems. And they needed to be written, or at least drafted, too, so again, another reason that the Book of Pain was born.

      Thank you so much for your encouragement!

      • I agree; I like the idea of explaining from where — in the mind or the world — a poem emanates.

        You really should publish your poems in periodicals. The hard part is writing the poems — sending them to magazines or journals is easy.

        So few people read poetry that I think it’s important to seek out an audience of those who are hungry to read more. And, for better or worse, it seems like poetry publishing (and reading) is a highly academic endeavor.

        So many people are writing poems on WordPress and other blogs, so it seems important to find other outlets to publish.