IMAGE & POEM (FEBRUARY 2011)

About Partage du Matin

Both the title and  reflective  image of a woman that Marie-France creates in her beautiful painting, "Voyage Immobile" inspired this poem. I thought of a poetic  lady looking through her window at the sky and stone wall in the distance. She reflects on one of her favorite plays by French playwright, Paul Claudel.  Her mind envisions the rock-built  fence as the side of a ship's deck, a steam liner from the early part of the 20th Century. And she becomes one of its imaginary passengers observing the moods and habits of those characters from the drama, Partage de Midi or The Break of Noon.

In his famous work, Paul Claudel examines the complexity of human nature interacting with opulence, passionate sin and malaise. His characters not only cross over the international dateline while at sea, but also the boundary of temptation.  My title,"Partage de Matin",  refers to that morning divide between dawn and midday,  routine and retreat. The speaker  is  fascinated by the opulent life aboard ship and becomes a witness to the intrigue and adulterous flirtations. Yet, she feels isolated from the characters, apart from the action and confident she is blessed with a good and true husband. Her presence here is simply diversion's luxury, an indulgence in morning reverie and speculation. As they cross the meridian,  she twists her wedding ring and returns to reality. She knows her husband is building a trellis for them in the garden and calls him in for breakfast. The simple but ritualistic act of grinding his coffee and peeling  oranges becomes a pleasure, a testament to her happiness and delight in serving a partner who  equally serves her. This outshines those sparkling trays of champagne; and she  understands that her marriage has been a voyage of cherished years and  mutual sacrifice.

The cohesive force in this poem that connects land and sea,  dream and reality, is the presence of the blackbird. Poised on tangled vines, he welcomes the  light and watches its intensity bloom into that illuminated window of imagination.  When the wife debarks  from her mental journey, he flies off, startled by the sound of hammered nails and signals that morning has resumed its normal routine, time is no longer suspended by thought..


© 2011, Wendy Howe. E-mail.