Offering | A poem by Anna de Noailles, 1876-1933

Anna de Noailles, 1890’s

For you, O youths, the books that I have written,
In which shall glint,
As in an apple that a child has bitten,
My teeth’s fierce dint.

And I have laid my two hands on their pages,
And, with head bowed,
Wept as the tempest in the forest rages,
When bursts the cloud.

And you shall conjure from the bitter prison
Of this dark book
My drunken soul which, from the dead arisen
On yours shall look.

My face, a sun to bathe you in its fires,
To you I leave;
To you my feeble heart that its desires
Fought to achieve;

My heart of flaxen softness and its story,
So yielding weak,
And of my hair the blue and ebon glory,
And the dawn of my cheek.

And see how tattered my poor pilgrim’s dress is
In which your hearts I meet!
The humblest in the wildest wilderness
Have not such naked feet.

–And I bequeath you, with its rose-wreathed arbour,
My garden of July,
Which filled my songs and soothed the grief I harbour,
I know not why. . . .

Anna de Noailles
tr. Jethro Bithell


Anna de Noailles (1876-1933) wrote three novels, an autobiography, and a number of poems. At the beginning of the 20th century, her salon on the Avenue Hoche attracted the intellectual, literary and artistic elite of the day including Francis Jammes, Paul Claudel, Colette, André Gide, Frédéric Mistral, Robert de Montesquiou-Fezensac, Paul Valéry, Jean Cocteau, Alphonse Daudet, Pierre Loti, Paul Hervieu, and Max Jacob.

Her Greek mother was the former Ralouka (Rachel) Mussurus, a musician, to whom the Polish composer Ignacy Paderewski dedicated several of his compositions.

anna denoailles3
Anna de Noailles 

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