“L” La paresse agrandit les minuscules choses prochaines. 11th hour

For those who are following this series of poems in Alphabet by the twentieth century French poet Paul Valéry, you are anticipating the next sequential letter of the alphabet “K” in this post. However, Valéry chose to omit two letters of the alphabet, K and W, when he wrote this book of poems which correspond to the 24 hours in a day. We are now in the 11th hour, “L”, in which “laziness enlarges the tiniest things”!

In the previous hour “J”, the 10th hour, our narrator has just finished a wonderful déjeuner with good food and good friends. He is contemplating what to do next with his day—he looks at the serene azure waters of the Mediterranean in front of him, he looks at the mountains behind him, possibly the Pyrenees. Or should he visit friends?

“L”, the 11th hour, is titled “Arbre. Amour.” (Tree. Love). Our narrator is near Carcassonne, France, on the Mediterranean beach [see my photo of Carcassonne on Featured Image], where the continuous noise of the waves flow and rush beside him. He is idle.

La paresse agrandit les minuscules choses prochaines

“In laziness (or idleness) the tiniest things enlarge or come into focus. Our narrator is watching a fly which is recreating and changing its point of existence. How can it be so small yet count himself un être unique, dans la table instantanée des vivantes? Unique, in the world of living things? Does this fly have a soul? Is it aware of the past, the future? Or does it consider itself to be infinitely accidental?

Le soleil, sans me voir, me fixe durement. The sun, without noticing him, stares hard. The brilliance crushes. This brilliant sunlight has turned the green trees a deep powerful purple. The heavy heat suddenly inspires and intimidates.

These activities of idleness (oxymoron!) bring thoughts to our narrator of Joseph and Daniel, in the book of Genesis, who both interpreted dreams: Joseph of Pharoh’s and Daniel of Nebuchadnezzar’s. He wonders if he can now interpret what “the sunlight and its enigmas” mean in his life.

Work Cited

Valéry, Paul. Alphabet. Paris: Librairie Générale Française. 1925