Francis Jammes

Madame De Warens - Poem by Francis Jammes

Mademe De Warens, you would watch the storm
Folding the dark trees of your sad Charmettes,
Or else you played the spinet, in a fret,
You clever woman whom Jean-Jacques would scold.

It may have been an evening such as this ...
The sky was blighted by black thunder-clouds ...
The smell of branches cut before the rain
Was sadly from your boxwood borders blown ...

And I can see him petulant at your knees,
The poet-child, the boy-philosopher ...
Why in the rosy sunsets would he weep,
And watch the swinging of the magpies' nests?

How he entreated you with heart-felt tears
To put a cheek on your extravagance ...
For you were as light-hearted as, alas!
It is the weakness of your sex to be ...

But you, as bright as you were sweet and tender,
Would say to him: Little philosopher!...
Or, laughing, chase him with some rosy drug
With which you powdered him his little wig.

Sweet refuges! Sweet years! O sweet retreats!
The alders whistled fresh among the beeches ...
The yellow honeysuckle framed the window ...
A priest would pay a visit now and then ...

Madame de Warens, you were very fond
Of this young rascal with his eager face,
Slow in his answers, but by no means dull,
Who copied music, too, so cleverly.

Inconstant woman, how you should have wept,
When you forsook him, and he went away
With his poor little bundle o'er his shoulder,
Alone, through pinewoods where the torrents roar ...

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Poem Submitted: Thursday, November 8, 2012

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