Portraits of Painters, Portraits of Musicians

Portraits of Painters


Cuyp, sunset dissolves in the limpid air,
Ruffled as water by a flight of grey wood pigeons,
A gold dampness haloes the forehead of a cow or a birch,
Blue incense fogs the beautiful days on the hillside,
Or the sky empties light into the stagnant marsh.
Horsemen await, pink feather to the hat,
Palm to the side, their skin pinkened by the brisk air,
That lightly puffs up their fine blonde mouths,
And, tented by the awesome fields, the fresh waves,
Whose herd of cattle amble undisturbed,
Dream of pale gold fog and of rest,
They go off to breathe these deep minutes.


Dark sorrow of the skies, uniform grey,
The rare bright spots, sadder to be blue,
And who leave the frozen plains
Filtering the lukewarm tears of a misunderstood sun;
Potter, melancholy mood of the dark plains
That spread endlessly, without joy and without colour,
The trees, the hamlet, do not shed any shadows,
The little gardens carry no flower.
A labourer returns pulling buckets, and, puny,
His mare resigned, worried and dreaming,
Trained and anxious, his pensive brain,
Short breath of a man, the long breath of wind.


Twilight makes up the trees and the faces,
With his blue cloak, under his uncertain mask;
Kiss of dust around the tired mouths...
Far becomes close, and the very near, distant.
The masquerade, other melancholic distance,
Was love’s false gesture, sadder and charming.
Whim poet - or prudent lover,
The lover needing to be knowingly adorned
Here, boat, smells, silences and music.


Bittersweet, the heart’s pride, noble grace of things
That shine in the eyes, the velvets and the woods,
Beautiful high language, holding up between poses
-Hereditary conceit of women and kings!
-You triumph, Van Dyck, prince of calm gestures,
In all the beautiful ones who are soon to die
In every beautiful hand that remembers how to open
Without doubting itself, - what matters? - The palms stretch out!
Riders halt, under the pines, near the streams,
They are quiet - as they are very close to tears
- Royal children already splendid and grave,
Resigned to raiment, hats with feathers brave,
And jewels in which tears, waves through flames
Tears of bitterness which are full of the soul
Too lofty to approach leave from their eyes;
And you, over all, precious walker,
In your pale blue shirt, one hand at the hip,
In the other a leafy fruit picked off the branch,
I dream without understanding your gesture and your eyes,
Standing, but rested, in this obscure refuge,
Duke of Richmond, a young sage! - Or charming fool?
I return to you always: A sapphire, at your neck,
Has fires as soft as your quiet look.

Portraits of Musicians


Chopin, sea of sighs, of tears, of sobs
That a flight of butterflies crosses without posing
Playing above sadness or dancing on the waves.
Dream, love, suffer, scream, charm or lull,
You are always jogging between every pain
The dizzy and soft oblivion of your whim
Like butterflies flying flower to flower;
From your grief then your joy is abettor:
The whirlwind's ardor deluding the sobs' thirst.
Sweet comrade of the pale moon and the rain,
Prince of despair or betrayed high lord,
You excite yourself still, most beautiful pale being,
The sun flooding your sickroom
That cries for your smile and suffers from the sight.
Smile of regret and tears of Hope!


Temple to love, to friendship, temple to courage
Where a marchioness studies English in her park
Or Watteau's many loves set his bow
Making glorious hearts as targets for his rage.

But the German artist - he dreamed of Asia Minor!
More deep and profoundly sculpted without affectation
The lovers and the gods whom you see on the frieze:
Hercules has his woodshed in the gardens of Armide!

The dancing heels in the alley do not knock any more
Where the ash extinguishes the eyes and the smile
Our slow muffled footsteps and the distances turn blue;
The cracked voice of the harpsichord keeps silent.

But your dumb cry, Admète, Iphigénie,
Still terrify us, uttered by a gesture
And, bent by Orpheus or faced by Alceste,
Styx, -without sky or masts, - where your genius moistens.

Gluck, also like Alceste beaten by Love
Inevitably dies with the whims of his age;
His upright, majestic temple of courage,
Above the little temple ruins of Love.


Your old garden receives your friendship well
Understands the boys whistling from their nests in the hedges
Your step-loves for so many wounds
Schumann, pensive soldier disappointed by war.

The happy pregnant breeze, or passage of doves,
The scent of jasmine submerged in big shadow,
The child reading the future in the hearth's flames,
The clouds or the wind speak to your grave heart.

Formerly your tears ran with the cries of the carnival
Or mixed their softness with bitter victory
Whose insane outburst still shudders in your memory;
You can cry without end: It is to your rival.

Towards Cologne the Rhine rolls its sacred water.
Ah, you sing the feast days merrily on its edges!
- But broken sorrow, you are deadened…
Tears rain in enlightened dark.

You dream where dead see, where faith is thankless,
Your hope is in flowers and powder is their crime…
Then a heart-rending bolt of lightning reawakens,
When the new thunderbolt strikes you for the first time.

Flow, fill with fragrance, march to drums or be beautiful!
Schumann, confidant of love and flowers,
Between your joyous quays, holy rivers sorrow,
Pensive garden, warm, fresh and faithful,
Where moon lilies and swallows kiss,
Army marches, child dreams, woman weeps!


Italian at arms or Prince of Bavaria
His sad and icy eye enchanted by languor!
In his chilly gardens he encounters his heart
His bosom swells to shadow, where he nurses the light.

His tender German heart, - so deep a sigh!
Finally he tastes love's idle being,
His hands too weak to hold his book
Beaming with hope in his charmed head.

Cherub, Don Juan! Standing in pressed flowers
Far from the lapse of memory
Such an amount of perfumes fan
Drying the tears the wind disperses
From Andalusian gardens to the tombs of Tuscany!

In the German park where troubles mist,
The Italian is still king of the night.
His breath makes the air soft and spiritual
And love drips from his enchanted flute
In the hot still shade of good-byes on a fine day
Of fresh sorbets, kisses and sky.


Return to Front Page