Sully's Yearnings

I can't justify just examining one poem and moving on, so I'm going to continue with Mr. Prudhomme, at least for one more post. Le Long Du Quai (Along the Quay) and Soupir (Sigh) were the next two poems that I appreciated the most of those I did find. These two poems and their English translations were included in The Ring of Words: An Anthology of Song Texts, which I obtained through Inter-library Loan. I can't tell you how much I value that service!

The most effective writing tool, for me at least, is detailed imagery--especially when someone describes something in a way I had never thought of or heard before. The first stanza of Le Long Du Quai (Along the Quay) provides two separate, yet parallel images: large ships resting in a body of water, rising and falling with the waves and women rocking cradles. I love the personification of the ships that "take no thought of the cradles / rocked by the hands of the women." The speaker goes on to explain that there will come a day when the ships will sail off, leaving behind the women who are caring after children.

I think many can understand the sadness the women feel when their lovers take off over the seas, as described in the second stanza. I'm distraught when I don't get to see my partner for a day because of our uncoordinated work schedules. I couldn't imagine waiting months to see him again! In the concluding stanza, the speaker expresses the sorrow of the those aboard the ship as well. Furthering the personification, the ships "feel their hulks restrained / by the soul of the distant cradles." I'm not a parent, but I know I would hate to be the father of a child and be absent for such an extended period of time. I would want to be there for every moment of their life possible.

The second poem, Soupir (Sigh), has a very similar theme. The word choice is simple, but the anguish of the speaker, separated from the one he loves, is demonstrated effectively, especially through the repetition of the phrase "always to love her" at the end of each stanza. The first and the last open with, "Never to see her or hear her, / never to breathe her name aloud..." I imagine two lovers separated across seemingly untraversable distances, or even across the threshold between life and death.

Though the poem isn't fraught with imagery, metaphors and similes, I find it effective in the sense that I can relate to it. Whether it has been in mourning for a loved one who's died, or in times when I've been separated from my partner for extended periods of time, I know the despair the speaker expresses when you think you may never see someone again. Though the speaker gives no hint as to which situation is the case, I find the fact that he will always love the one he's separated from endearing.

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