Sunday, January 25, 2015

Contrerime XXXIV

Who was Faustine?
It remains an enigma. Although Marie Vergon, the woman who was to marry Toulet, is sometimes identified with that name, according to Jacques Dyssord  Faustine is called Rose P., and is said to have worked at the Auberge Lesquerré at Jurançon.
 Dyssord leaves this description:
 "Elle était brune, bien en chair et un sang généreux empourprait ses lèvres sensuelles dont in léger duvet ombragait la supérieure."
Apparently she married a wealthy hotelier and after a somewhat unsettled life she died in 1914, at the Saint-Luc Asylum, at Pau. Toulet saw her there in 1909, not far from the Dominican convent where he went to school. She spotted him from her open window, despite the dusk of an autumn evening:
"De sa fenêtre ouverte, elle m'a reconnut malgré le crépuscule, et, quelque souvenir frivole lui montant à la tête, elle laissa soudain s'égrener jusqu'à moi la perle mélodieuse de son roucoulement."
Clearly Rose P. existed. But there were other candidates for Faustine, including the aforementioned Marie Vergon, a certain Marie-Louise B, and other, unidentified. Faustine may very well be a conflation.

He kept an inn in the Béarn, and was perhaps the husband of Faustina. According to Dyssord, "the kitchen of gleaming copper pots, the spit like a Toledo blade turning under the broad mantle of the high chimney, before a fire of great oak logs, would not have failed to attract, had he been lost in this vicinity, the good Father Jerome Coignard, a character of Anatole France his novel La Rotisserie de la Reine Pédauque."

Contrerime XXXIV

Ce fut par un soir de l'automne
     A sa dernière fleur
Que l'on nous prit pour Mgr
     L'Evêque de Bayonne,

Sur la route de Jurançon.
     J'étais en poste, avecque
Faustine, et l'émoi d'être évêque
     Lui sécha sa chanson.

Cependant cloches, patenôtres,
     Volaient autour de nous.
Tout un peuple était à genoux :
     Nous mêlions les nôtres,

Ô Vénus, et ton char doré,
     Glissant parmi la nue,
Nous annonçait la bienvenue
     Chez Monsieur Lesquerré.


One evening with autumn 
     On its very last flower 
We were taken for Monseigneur 
     The Bishop of Bayonne,  

On the road to Jurançon.
     I was in the mail coach
With Faustine, when her promotion
     Stifled her song.

Meanwhile bells, pater nosters, 
     Were flying around. 
A parish kneeling on the ground: 
     Add two imposters.

Ô Venus, with your gilded ferry, 
     Slipping deftly ahead,
It was you who warmed the bed
     At M. Lesquerré’s


Contrerime XXXV

I have been remiss - no posts to this blog for more than a year. And now I am skipping ten poems to go to XXXV. I will go back, but this one is the most recent to have been translated and versified. So here it is.

Contrerime XXXV
Un Jurançon 93
     Aux couleurs du maïs,
Et ma mie, et l'air du pays :
     Que mon coeur était aise.

Ah, les vignes de Jurançon,
     Se sont-elles fanées,
Comme ont fait mes belles années,
     Et mon bel échanson ?

Dessous les tonnelles fleuries
     Ne reviendrez-vous point
A l'heure où Pau blanchit au loin
     Par-delà les prairies ?

The Jurançon 93 
     The colour of corn, 
And my girl, and the country morn -
     How my heart was free!   

Is the Jurançon atrophied
     Perished with drought, 
Just like my gilded youth,
     And my fair Ganymede?   

‘neath the flowering shadows
      Will you not come again
At the hour when Pau grows faint
     Far beyond the meadows?

A note on the wine
The vine is cultivated in Jurançon and in the nearby hills, on extremely steep slopes at the foot of the Pyrenees. The quantity of wine produced is limited. It is white, a golden colour, sweet with a hint of Madeira. According to legend, the grandfather of Henry IV rubbed the lips of his grand-son with a clove of garlic and had him swallow a few drops of Jurançon a few moments after birth. When the baby did not protest too much, he exclaimed: "You will be a true Béarnais! "