On se tait. We are silent; One is silent; I am silent. The third person singular on in French represents I, me, you, we, one, they, he, she, or people. Just as in English, one must rely on the context. I love this pronoun. It is so easy to use when speaking French and requires the nasally, swallowed, back of your throat “ahn”. Valéry is using on in the 14th hour to represent all.

On se tait, I am silent. When I first read Valéry’s “O” chapter almost a year ago, I took this heart and applied it to my life. When I am silent, then I am listening to others. When I am silent, I am reflecting, I am more intentional in my speech. Just because I am thinking it, I do not have to say it. As an extrovert, this has been a challenging assignment! This became one of my goals for the year, to be more silent.

In the chapter “N”, our narrator is silent. He and his lover are silent. At first, their silence is heavy, crushing, the “looks of painful silence”. They are in the garden near the cold roses. While residing in both sides of an abyss, their silent thoughts began to torment them. Over the gray and pink earth, over the shadows and the lights, among the tussocks, between the trees and the shrubs of the paths, an abyss moves between them like the shadow of a cloud.

After some time in the garden, they come back together, they began speaking to one another again and their two hearts are now “beating the same”.

In “P”, Les 2 mêmes. Ombre.  The two become one. The shadow is lifted. They are face to face, smiling.

Ah! s’il était possible! Et nous formions le visage qui répondrait, et nous pressentions le seuil délicieux des larmes naissantes.

Their faces respond to the delicious threshold of budding tears. It is then enough for the living who had thought themselves separated eternally to find themselves one again, in each other’s souls.

They recognize that, once again, they are gods there, in the garden—masters of life and truth. They instantly agree on the necessity of their existence.

(Ce que je suis veritablement en toi/vous/tout a copu me regarde par tes yeux.) (La voix de l’u parle dans l’autre, et l’autre ne la peut empecher de se faire entrendre.)

(What I truly am in you/ you/ I look at everything through your eyes.) (The voice of one speaks in the other, and the other cannot prevent it from being heard.)

Work Cited

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