Wednesday, November 07, 2012

St Brieuc sunset

Time was I'd leave you feeling somewhat frayed,
unequal to the task of you, but now
I step out from your door, almost sure
of the streets and alleyways, the little veins
stitched with stone, late windowsill geraniums,
wrought iron gates that curtain courtyards
of winter-facing fig-trees and mimosa, 
tall windows piercing through the foreign dark
of houses onto walled gardens, valleys, slopes,
and hope that friendship might grow bright as well as fade.

Now at the church whose rank decay, 
lifeless liturgies and cracked glazed Lazarus, 
once told of horror more than resurrection,
(It is well known, none can be held responsible for her despair...)
the lycée students sit ranged on the stone steps 
like flowering auriculars, wrapped round 
with coats and scarves and one another,
looking down towards the evening town 
washed kindly rose and gold, and holding out
against the winter and the shortening day.


Roderick Robinson said...

Yeah, way to go! The capture and transmutation of that which is French. It's why you went there in the first place (I assume) so it's nice to see you working off your debt in such an effective way.

For me the key line is

the lycée students sit ranged on the stone steps

Though not just limited to France, it's the image of young people - often seemingly boneless - draped over steps, sometimes (in places like airports) sitting unapologetically, unsupported, on the flat floor. Oh yes, and also:

wrought iron gates that curtain courtyards

those symbols of French privacy.

I'll say it again (but much, much quietly) you can't keep this up but then I'm so glad you've got this far.

Julia said...

Very beautiful, a poem to come back to and read over in November darkness.

The lycée students section is my favorite part too, but I was also caught by the "tall windows piercing
through the foreign dark".

Jean said...

Oh, that lovely!

Nimble said...

Rose and gold and a little green cross. Nice shot of twilight, my favorite time of day and a hard sort of light to capture.

Lucy said...

Thanks all.

I suppose we came here for the country life; town life I had few preconceptions about. St Brieuc is not immediately prepossessing but I am finding hidden corners of charm.

I have to say I find British teenagers rather intimidating, French ones much less so.