Caption in French: La grisette voulut avoir des robes et des chapeaux. elle se vendit.
Caption in English: The grisette wanted to have dresses and hats. It was sold.
La Grisette by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was written in 1836 shortly after returning to Boston from medical studies in Paris. The poem expresses not only nostalgia for his recently deceased young lover, but also for Paris itself and all that it represented to him at the time. I added some hyperlinks in the prose for further inquiry.
La Grisette by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
As Clemence! when I saw thee last
Trip down the Rue de Seine,
And turning, when thy form had past,
I said, “We meet again,”–
I dreamed not in that idle glance
Thy latest image came,
And only left to memory’s trance
A shadow and a name.
The few strange words my lips had taught
Thy timid voice to speak,
Their gentler signs, which often brought
Fresh roses to thy cheek,
The trailing of thy long loose hair
Bent o’er my couch of pain,
All, all returned, more sweet, more fair;
Oh, had we met again!
I walked where saint and virgin keep
The vigil lights of Heaven,
I knew that thou hadst woes to weep,
And sins to be forgiven;
I watched where Genevieve was laid,
I knelt by Mary’s shrine,
Beside me low, soft voices prayed;
Alas! but where was thine?
And when the morning sun was bright,
When wind and wave were calm,
And flamed, in thousand-tinted light,
The rose of Notre Dame,
I wandered through the haunts of men,
From Boulevard to Quai,
Till, frowning o’er Saint Etienne,
The Pantheon’s shadow lay.
In vain, in vain; we meet no more,
Nor dream what fates befall;
And long upon the stranger’s shore
My voice on thee may call,
When years have clothed the line in moss
That tells thy name and days,
And withered, on thy simple cross,
The wreaths of Pere-la-Chaise!
Note: I recently realized that I don’t often share here what I read, rather what I’ve created, photographed, mapped etc. Starting today I am going to try to include more poetry, miscellaneous literature, and interesting factoids I find on-line. I think they’ll make this digital scrapbook a little more robust. Enjoy!
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- La Grisette by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
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