'L’Idéal' by Louis Janmot‘Famine de l’âme’ by Anna J. Arredondo The Society November 28, 2020 Beauty, Culture, Deconstructing Communism, Poetry 23 Comments Famine de l’âme The soul, deprived of one essential thing, Cannot rely on dusty stores of hope; Seeking to mitigate starvation’s sting, Finds worthless every erstwhile way to cope: Profound malaise, la grande douleur exquise, Mere denegation cannot obviate; Frantic pursuit of new activities The pang of loss will not attenuate, Though energy and passion thus employed May lead it on from goal to lofty goal By focusing on all except the void— The emptiness it dare not face—that soul, Though outwardly it flourish more and more, Has but a gnawing vacuum at its core. Final Farewell So tender is the hand that gently takes My stricken face into its cautious grasp; Tender the ears that hear the wretched gasp Of pain made audible as my heart breaks; The voice so hesitant, the fumbling lips That form each whispered word, so bittersweet; The eyes that force themselves my gaze to meet Are soft and warm, while clumsy fingertips Smooth back my hair, salt-sticky with the tears That freely flow from ruptured depths within; Tender your farewell touch upon my skin— It crushes me, yet somehow still endears… Such tenderness as this defies belief— That can at once destroy—and bring relief. Originally published in The Lyric Anna J. Arredondo grew up in Pennsylvania, where she fell in love with poetry from a young age. After living in Mexico for six years, during which time she met and married her husband, she returned to Pennsylvania for one more decade. An engineer by education, home educator by choice, and poet by preference, she relocated in 2017 and currently resides in Westminster, CO with her husband and three school-age children. Anna has recently had poems published in The Lyric and Time of Singing. NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 23 Responses Leo Zoutewelle November 28, 2020 Anna, these are two exquisite poems, to keep and reread often. Thank you much! Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Thank you, Leo! I’m glad you enjoyed them. Reply Theresa Rodriguez November 28, 2020 Truly beautiful, outstandingly crafted sonnets, thank you so much, Anna! Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Theresa, thank you for your comment. It means a lot! Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 C.B., I know you maintain the highest linguistic standards in your own writing, and I appreciate you being a stickler for proper grammar and punctuation on this site. Before submitting, I read and reread Famine de l’âme multiple times, rearranging words and tweaking the punctuation to make it work (couldn’t avoid the inversions though). Let me say, I am honored to have passed the test of your technical scrutiny, and pleased that you liked the poems as well! Reply C.B. Anderson November 30, 2020 Yes, Anna, as I noted, the inversions were, in these instances, not at all off-putting, and they were necessary to put the rhymes in the right places. Tonia Kalouria November 28, 2020 Wonderful! So evocative … . Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Thanks! Reply Cynthia Erlandson November 28, 2020 Both of these — especially the second — are profoundly moving. Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Thank you, Cynthia! Reply C.B. Anderson November 28, 2020 The depth of insight you expressed in these poems was astounding. And I loved that the French phrases you used were close enough to their English counterparts that translation was not a problem. Even your inversions, e.g.: The pang of loss will not attenuate, The eyes that force themselves my gaze to meet are graceful and totally appropriate for the somber mood with which the poems are imbued. Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 C.B., please see above. The comment feature is not being kind to me today. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant November 28, 2020 These two accomplished sonnets are a linguistic and heart-touching treat. They both express gracefully and eloquently the anguish of the soul. For me “Famine de l’âme” captures the spirit of our times – the outward display, the polished veneer, the concentration on personal gratification that doesn’t compensate for the sustenance of the soul. I believe the world we live in now is eroding the inner spirit of many. Your closing couplet is a triumph. My favorite of the two is “Final Farewell”. For me, this speaks of the ultimate price we pay for the gift of love. You express this so tenderly and so beautifully – “clumsy fingertips/Smooth back my hair, salt-sticky with the tears/That freely flow from ruptured depths within” says so much about the person departing and the person remaining – a heartbreaking moment that reminds me of the losses I’ve faced and pain that has wracked me to the very core. This is an excellent sonnet that I wish I had written myself. Anna, thank you! Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Susan, Thank you for the high praise! Related to the anguish of the soul, I recently rediscovered these lines I love from Robert Browning: “… Only I discern — Infinite passion, and the pain Of finite hearts that yearn.” Based on your comment, I am pleased to have achieved a small measure of success in describing what is really indescribable. Thank you! Reply Margaret Coats November 28, 2020 “Final Farewell” is a moment’s monument of multiple images in collage from that terrible time of goodbye. In the final line, you put it all into the paradox perspective of a Renaissance sonnet complaining of love’s simultaneous grief and joy. I find the real triumph of “Famine” in the poem’s inability to name the “one essential thing.” This suggests that the famine has pervaded the soul until it no longer knows what food is. As Susan wisely comments, this is an indictment of the society to which this soul belongs. Two profound Shakespearean sonnets, with an interesting variant rhyme scheme in “Final Farewell.” Reply Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Margaret, Thank you for your insightful comments. The sonnet can be quite a useful vehicle for showcasing the paradoxes of life! Reply Joseph S. Salemi November 28, 2020 What is profoundly powerful in “Final Farewell” is the ambiguity as to who exactly is speaking. It could be the dying person, or it could be the visitor at the bedside. Either one is a possible reading, and I went over the entire sonnet several times without being exactly sure as to which is the stronger case. Then it occurred to me that such ambiguity might be intentional — the poet may be attempting to indicate the loving closeness of the two persons by letting the reader understand either (or both) to be the speaking voice. In this way, the poet transforms a simple deathbed scene into one of deep personal communion — the exact opposite of loss. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant November 28, 2020 Joe S., your take on “Final Farewell” has me rethinking my initial take. I feel the clue is in the closing couplet. If it’s a deathbed scene, the recipient of the tears seems physically frail with “whispered words” and “clumsy fingertips” and, from personal experience, I think that those in the throes of death feel a sense of relief – it’s those left behind that suffer the greatest grief. I also wondered if the poem could be a marital farewell. The closing couplet may point to this twist. “Such tenderness as this defies belief (tenderness may not have been shown before)—/That can at once destroy—and bring relief.”(Destroyed because of guilt and regret, relief at the freedom of release). Just a thought. I’m intrigued. Reply Joseph S. Salemi November 28, 2020 Well, the poem’s ambiguity makes all of those things possible. For me, the bulk of the poem suggests a situation of sickness and debility common in a dying person, but such exhausted awkwardness and pain are also common in those who are tending the dying. And those other lines about touching and caressing a face and smoothing hair seem more connected with a deathbed scene than with a marital split-up. But it’s possible, I suppose. Anna J. Arredondo November 29, 2020 Joseph and Susan, I don’t know whether I ought to chime in, but I will. I suppose my desire was to evoke a very intense and specific *feeling*, the “anguish of the soul,” as Susan said, while intentionally leaving *situational* ambiguity. In the process of writing it, I know to some degree I pondered both of the situations you have mentioned: the loss through death or the termination of a relationship. In Byron’s “Fare Thee Well” he likens the two: “These are words of deeper sorrow Than the wail above the dead; Both shall live, but every morrow Wakes us from a widow’d bed.” In either case, the once-treasured closeness and communion combined with the finality of the farewell suffices to produce the anguish of soul… At any rate, I am pleased with the poem’s ambiguity. Reply Susan Jarvis Bryant December 1, 2020 Anna, thank you very much for being so generous with your reply and thank you too for the Robert Browning and Lord Byron quote. The ambiguity of “Final Farewell” works beautifully. I particularly like Byron’s words. From personal experience, I feel the final farewells that have nothing to do with the physicality of death are often the most painful, with the grieving process nearly always overlooked. Suffice to say, your work reaches out to this reader on many levels in accomplished poetry that connects and inspires. Bravo! Reply Amrita Valan November 29, 2020 Anna after reading your poems i understood what poetry truly means as opposed to just dabbling with words as I do. Deeply humbled yet thrilled to read these poems. That someone understands and can put words to such feelings reassures me. Reply David Watt December 2, 2020 Anna, both sonnets succeeded admirably in conveying the emotion resulting from loss. What makes ‘Final Farewell’ striking for me is the perfectly expressed duality or ‘bittersweet’ nature of an inevitable parting. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.