Voici l’heure où le pré, les arbres et les fleurs

The Countess Anna de Noailles was writing poetry in the early years of the twentieth century before and around the First World War period. This is a gentle, low-key poem describing the beauty and sense of calm of a garden surrounding a country house. It is evening, the sun is going down, the flowers and trees are filling the air with scent, the sound of the water fountain splashing in the pond all contribute to the feeling of calm and beauty.

Anna de NOAILLES   (1876-1933)

Le jardin et la maison

Voici l’heure où le pré, les arbres et les fleurs
Dans l’air dolent et doux soupirent leurs odeurs.

Les baies du lierre obscur où l’ombre se recueille
Sentant venir le soir se couchent dans leurs feuilles,

Le jet d’eau du jardin, qui monte et redescend,
Fait dans le bassin clair son bruit rafraîchissant ;

La paisible maison respire au jour qui baisse
Les petits orangers fleurissant dans leurs caisses.

Le feuillage qui boit les vapeurs de l’étang
Lassé des feux du jour s’apaise et se détend.

– Peu à peu la maison entr’ouvre ses fenêtres
Où tout le soir vivant et parfumé pénètre,

Et comme elle, penché sur l’horizon, mon coeur
S’emplit d’ombre, de paix, de rêve et de fraîcheur…

From <http://poesie.webnet.fr/lesgrandsclassiques/poemes/anna_de_noailles/le_jardin_et_la_maison.html&gt;

The focus is on the garden for most of the poem as the poet enumerates the elements of the evening scene, in rhyming couplets. But towards the end of the poem, the windows of the house begin to open, letting the scents and sounds of the evening air gradually drift indoors. The final couplet brings everything back to the feelings of the poet as she experiences all this and becomes immersed in the dreamy, cool, peaceful shadows of the evening. Quite lovely.

Of course, this is no ordinary house and garden. The Countess and her entourage were the 1%ers of the age, and this must have been a large country house. I envision something like the Chateau de Breteuil, about 30 milesor so outside Paris in the Vallee de Chevreuse, where people like Proust and the Price of Wales would congregate for weekend house parties. That has a lake with water fountain, orange trees, ivy, all as described in the poem. Countess de Noailles moved in this world and the poem elegantly captures that experience.

The Poetry Dude


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