À Dieu

We watch, he and I,
from a hot, sultry garret,
the bright snapping flashes
of the blue and red slashes
lining that silent, riotous rue.

I am not a fool, he whispers,
but a madman, painting what I feel.
And if I’ve taken more than I’ve given
that’s poor enough payment
but it is all that I am
and what I know of love.

The Rue Montorgueil in Paris, Celebration of 30 June 1878 by Claude Monet is one of several Impressionistic paintings that fueled my love for that school of art in particular and painting in general.

Luckily, my wife and I were able to see the original the last time we were in Paris. There are many great museums in that city, especially for viewing Monet’s oeuvre. One is the Monet family legacy museum, the Marmottan-Monet house; another is the delightful Orangerie Museum, a not-as-well-known spot that I highly recommend. But the best spot, of course, is the incredible Musée d’Orsay—where this particular painting is housed—and which may arguably be the greatest museum in the world.

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. 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 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.

The image is an online, freely available reproduction of the original. To see my photography blog, please visit the Book of Bokeh.

john

Poem and notes © John Etheridge; all rights reserved. The poem and accompanying notes are licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Work 3.0 Unported License. This applies to all original written work found on this site unless noted otherwise. The attribution claimed is © John Etheridge,  https://bookofpain.wordpress.com. The image is not licensed for use in any way without the expressed consent of its creator.

2 Comments

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2 responses to “À Dieu

  1. philwilke

    I had never seen that painting before… blew me away … thanks, nice poem too