Sunday, April 25, 2004

Contra de Musset

De Musset wrote a haunting plea to be remembered, which begins --

Rappelle-toi, quand l'Aurore craintive
Ouvre au Soleil son palais enchanté ;
Rappelle-toi, lorsque la nuit pensive
Passe en rêvant sous son voile argenté ;
A l'appel du plaisir lorsque ton sein palpite,
Aux doux songes du soir lorsque l'ombre t'invite,
Ecoute au fond des bois
Murmurer une voix :

I would ask you, when you hear a murmuring voice deep in the woods -- do not listen. Do not remember. Do not recall my face, or my touch. All my life I have begged you to remember me, and I will beg you again -- you know. But please, forget me. This little heap of charred sticks has never been a fire. Let the wind scatter it.

If a little whimper rises from the weedy ground where they've pitched my bones, do me one last kindness, and hear the moans for what they are -- a shiver of cruelty, an echo of confusion.

I want to be forgotten as cleanly, as completely, as a swallow forgets the last gnat it scooped out of the air. Forget me, as a good pool player, frowning at the table, forgets his last shot. As good painter facing a new canvas forgets his last painting. Consume my memory. Lick up the crumbs, and suck your fingers until the faintest taste is gone.