Sometimes the words of a phrase or sentence jars your center and subtly slips into your core, lodging there. It may be years later, or even decades, that you realize they have become a part of you. Many years ago, I came across a poem that had such an effect on me — “Beau Soir” by Paul Bourget, that Claude Debussy set to music.
Lorsque au soleil couchant les rivières sont roses,
Et qu’un tiède frisson court sur les champs de blé,
Un conseil d’être heureux semble sortir des choses
Et monter vers le coeur troublé.
Un conseil de goûter le charme d’être au monde
Cependant qu’on est jeune et que le soir est beau
Car nous nous en allons,
Comme s’en va cette onde:
Elle à la mer,
Nous au tombeau.
When streams turn pink in the setting sun,
And a slight shudder rushes through the fields of wheat,
A plea for happiness seems to rise from all things
And it climbs up towards the troubled heart.
A plea to relish the charm of life
While there is youth and the evening is fair,
For we pass away as the wave passes:
The wave to the sea, and we to the grave.
The tender intimacy of the poem, simple yet profound, stirred something deep inside and I sought out such end-of-day streams and fields, and later, ocean sunsets. The poem gave birth to a never-ending desire to seek out and become part of such moments of tranquil beauty.
It created a sort of urgency to embrace the loveliness of life — “while there is youth and the evening is fair.”