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Aidan Rooney: Chestnut Tree (after Ida Faubert)

The courtyard’s chestnut tree,

    already shedding leaves

in dulcet sunset heat,

    stands tall and grieves.

Summer burns, and the sun sees

    the ground drink up;

flowers make a stab at beauty,

    life’s only hope.

What hard wind or rather

    what dream mishap

has, from this sturdy mother,

    dried up the sap?

Just as this tree divests

    itself of crown,

my heart likewise has let

    some leaves down. 

Le Grand Marronnier
      Ida Faubert (1882-1969)

Le grand marronnier de la cour

    Déjà s’effeuille,

Et dans la tiède fin de jour

    Il se recueille.

Le soleil brûle, c’est l’Eté

    La terre est ivre.

Chaque fleur, offrant sa beauté

    Espère vivre.

Quel âpre vent, ou bien encor,

    Quel triste rêve

A de cet arbre jeune et fort

    Tari la sève?

Pareil à l’arbre dépouillé

    De sa couronne,

Ainsi mon cœur s’est effeuillé

    Avant l’automne.

Ida Faubert

Ida Faubert (1882-1969) was a complex Haitian poet, widely regarded as the first Haitian woman poet to receive recognition from the literary establishments of her time in Haiti and France. The daughter of Lysius Salomon, President of Haiti from 1879 until 1888, she was born in Port-au-Prince and educated in France where she went on to spend most of her life. In Paris, she ran with the literary and artistic crowd in the salons and bals of the roaring twenties, counting among her coterie the surrealist artists, André Desnos and Juan Miró, feminist bisexuals of the Rive Gauche such as Anna de Noailles and the mononymous Colette, and the writers Jean Richepin and Jean Vignaud.

“Chestnut” is from Ida Faubert’s sole poetry collection, Cœur des îles, published in Paris (chez René Debresse) in 1939. The poem is representative of the universal nature lyric impulse, highly formalist, prevalent in Faubert and the La Ronde school of France’s and Haiti’s Belle Epoque.

Adaptation and endnote copyright 2021 Aidan Rooney. Le Grand Marronnier by Ida Faubert is in the public domain.

2 comments on “Aidan Rooney: Chestnut Tree (after Ida Faubert)

  1. Katherine Lawrence
    September 21, 2021

    “My heart…has let some leaves down” speaks of loss and change.

    I cannot read anything that mentions chestnut trees without thinking of a poem written by a child in Terezin Concentration Camp that was set to music which the Jewish Choir with which I sang performed many times.
    “On a Sunny Evening”
    On a purple, sun-shot evening
    Under wide flowering chestnut tree…
    If in barbed wire things can bloom,
    Why couldn’t I? I will not die.

    Yet out of death the beauty of their words persist.

    Liked by 1 person

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This entry was posted on September 17, 2021 by in Poetry and tagged , , , , .

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