Je repasse ta lettre, a l’ombre du ciel bleu du parasol

This is a fine poem by Leopold Senghor which combines evocative imagery from his native Senegal in west Africa with a sense of longing for lost love and a tribute to the power of poetry. A heady mix indeed, and I think Senghor pulls it off.

 
Je repasse

LÉOPOLD SÉDAR SENGHOR

Je repasse ta lettre, à l’ombre du ciel bleu du parasol.
À mes pieds, la mer molle se froisse rythmique à l’arène
Le chant s’essore. La mer jusqu’à la passe est pareille à tes yeux de sable et d’algues
Jusqu’à la masse profonde du large, où fleurissent tous les miracles
Sous les cris blancs des mouettes, l’écume des longues pirogues.

Sur la plage rythmique, les canards sauvages en groupe songent, immobiles muets.
Je songe à mon enfant dernier, l’enfant de l’avenir
Aux cils de palmes, aux yeux de puits sans fond.
Ses cheveux plats fulgurent de fauves éclairs.
Où est donc la fille de mon espoir défunt, Isabelle aux yeux clairs ou Soukeïna de soie noire ?
Elle m’écrirait des lettres frissonnant d’ailes folles
D’images coloriées, avec de grandes bêtes aux yeux de Séraphins
Avec des oiseaux-fleurs, des serpents-lamantins sonnant des trompettes d’argent.
Car elle existe, la fille Poésie. Sa quête est ma passion
L’angoisse qui point ma poitrine, la nuit
La jeune fille secrète et les yeux baissés, qui écoute pousser ses cils ses ongles longs.
Et tu demandes :
— Mais pourquoi cette brume et ces mirages au fond de tes yeux étales ?
— La mer est belle et l’air est doux, comme jadis sur les bords des Grands Lacs

 
From <http://www.lesvoixdelapoesie.com/poemes/je-repasse?language=en&gt;

The first five lines set the scene; the poet is reading a letter from his loved one, while sitting on the beach, listening to the sounds of the sea and the gulls, and the wake of the fishing canoes. He connects the sea with his lover by comparing it to her eyes. I have seen fishing canoes drawn up on the beach in Senegal with seabirds circling overhead in the hope of picking up a fish, so this stanza brings back memories.

As the poet sits on the beach his mind wanders, he thinks of his child, he thinks of his former lovers and he thinks of his love for poetry, which is his ultimate passion. And all of these thoughts are connected to the poet’s surroundings by the sea which reinforce his feelings and emotions. The poem is atmospheric and quite beautiful in its allusiveness and attachment to the places loved by the poet.

The Poetry Dude

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s