IMAGE & POEM (MAY 2011)

About Inside An Old Book Of French Poems

This month's poem,  "Inside An Old Book Of French Poems," was inspired by Marie France's beautiful Painting "La Jeune Liseuse Revisitee" which re-interprets and honors the work of Jean Honore Fragonard, "The Young Girl Reading". Drawn to the demoiselle sitting in a  wicker chair, I became curious about the title of her book and the subject matter within. At the same time, I was also reading wonderful poems by French poet, Frédéric Mistral.

  I imagined the girl in the painting to be a poet. She longs to perfect her writing and become as proficient and lyrically haunting as the tongue of Mistral. After reading his poems, she returns to the beginning pages of the book, to the first pages that are normally left blank. There she views her own handwriting, the rough draft of a poem she has recently scribbled down on the "fly leaf"  or opening page.

  Her thoughts turn  to the author, Frédéric Mistral . Using her imagination, she addresses the dead writer directly and explains why she has written her poem inside this volume of literature. She sees herself lingering there, next to his masterpiece of verse,  as a loose garment of script, hoping her unfinished work (her unhemmed draft) will stray into language worthy of his recognition, poetic voice and culture.

  She also emphasizes how well the book is constructed, the stitching, the paper and the typeface used to showcase his poetry. Comparing  its font title, Garamond, to the sound of a folk or gypsy dance, she reflects on the landscape and character of his epic piece, Mireille. Softly, the female poet infers that between the lines of his famous work, his spirit may exist  in  silence, stepping beyond the original text, and listening to other songs, to those of the reader which have been  humbly inscribed on the premiere page,  With humility, she whispers, And maybe, you hear mine / a girl tattered in her own verse/struggling to show some talent.


© 2011, Wendy Howe. E-mail.