Monday, April 10, 2006

National Poetry Month

Designated in 1996 by The Academy of American Poets, April is National Poetry Month. Meant as a month-long celebration of poetry, the idea behind it is to increase awareness of the art of poetry, to living poets, to our poetic heritage, and to poetry books and magazines. Through National Poetry Month the AAP hopes to:

-- Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
-- Introduce more Americans to the pleasures of reading poetry
-- Bring poets and poetry to the public in immediate and innovative ways
-- Make poetry a more important part of the school curriculum
-- Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
-- Encourage increased publication, distribution, and sales of poetry books
-- Increase public and private philanthropic support for poets and poetry

I've always been more partial to the more traditional, older generations of poets: Tennyson, Walt Whitman, Emerson, Frost, Blake, Poe, Browning and Barrett Browning... The French contingent of Verlaine, Rimbaud, Prévert, Baudelaire. I've never cared for Emily Dickenson -- the fact you can sing all of her poems to "The Yellow Rose of Texas" is a huge turn off -- and don't care much for of the more modern poets, finding exceptions in Langston Hughes, Nicki Giovanni, Maya Angelou and Viola Wendt.

My absolute favorite is one I discovered and learned par coeur as a French major in College, "Il pleure dans mon coeur" (It rains in my heart) by Paul Verlaine. A bit melancholy perhaps, but frought with emotion:

Il pleure dans mon coeur
Comme il pleut sur la ville;
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui pénètre mon coeur?

Ô bruit doux de la pluie
Par terre et sur les toits!
Pour un coeur qui s'ennuie,
Ô le chant de la pluie!

Il pleure sans raison
Dans ce coeur qui s'écoeure.
Quoi! nulle trahison?
Ce deuil est sans raison.

C'est bien la pire peine
De ne savoir pourquoi
Sans amour et sans haine
Mon coeur a tant de peine!

The English translation:

It rains in my heart
as it rains on the town,
what is this languor
that penetrates my heart?

Oh sweet sound of the rain
on the earth and the roofs!
For a heart dulled again,
oh the song of the rain!

It rains without reason
in this heart that sickens.
What? And no betrayal?
This grief is without reason.

It is the worst pain
not to know why,
without love and without hate,
my heart feels so much pain.

Sounds MUCH better in French, wouldn't you agree? *grin* What about you? Do you have favorite poets, or perhaps a favorite poem? Something that has touched your heart or soul in some way?


Rae said...

That's a beautiful, heart-wrenching poem. Thanks for sharing it.

I have favorites, just not sure where they are. I used to love to sit down and write poems--usually they were angsty like this one. Usually about a guy or boy that broke my heart while in school or repressed feelings of hatred towards the man in my house.

Annalee Blysse said...

I'd like to hear it in French. It's interesting in English. Don't speak the other.