The beautiful days. The beautiful days are not gone. Despite the acid I spread on Friday. The beautiful days are happening right now. If we allow them to happen. The day before I was writing this post the roof of one of the landmarks of Paris was destroyed by a fire: the Cathédrale de Notre-Dame. A terrible loss. But the day I wrote this post, I rose with the sun, I didn’t have to work, the house was calm and I enjoyed a beautiful sight out of the kitchen window as the vineyards are coming to life. The beautiful days are whenever we want to make them happen.
Those of you who have been following this blog since its timid beginning in 2015 know that I always had a crush on the German pianist Alice Sara Ott. Early this year she posted a personal message on social networks: She has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. “It’s going to take me a while to get to know this condition and how I will manage it for myself”, she wrote. Now I let that sink in: A pianist confronts the fact that she has an uncurable disease of the central nervous system. Modern medecine and physiotherapy can keep the body working but only to a certain degree.
Luxembourg’s former Grand Duke Jean has died at the age of 98. I met our head of state when I was a boy and I found him a sympathetic man. I was twelve and my boy scout group celebrated the 75 anniversary of the worldwide boy scout movement in 1982 with a huge international jamboree. It took place in the park that surrounded the Grand Duke’s former residence. Grand Duke Jean was at the time the head of Luxembourg’s boy scout federation and he was around all the time during the jamboree.
Could there be anything more painful than witnessing a fading love? I doubt it. Having explored German poetry for many years – you will remember my enthusiasm for Rainer Maria Rilke and Heinrich Heine – I have recently turned my attention to French poets. Paul Verlaine is among those who interest me right now, and I found a beautiful and very sad poem with the title “Colloque Sentimental” (Sentimental Colloquium). Let me quote the first lines:
Dans le vieux parc solitaire et glacé,
Deux formes ont tout à l’heure passé.
Leurs yeux sont morts et leurs lèvres sont molles,
Et l’on entend à peine leurs paroles.1