Monday, April 26, 2010

Leopold III and Jacques Brel

As described by Michel Verwilghen in Le Mythe d'Argenteuil, the beloved Belgian poet and singer Jacques Brel was among King Leopold's sympathizers. He visited the fallen monarch at the country estate of Argenteuil and dedicated these interesting and touching verses to him:

Je vous souhaite des rêves à n'en plus finir
  et l'envie furieuse d'en réaliser quelques-uns.
Je vous souhaite d'aimer ce qu'il faut aimer
  et d'oublier ce qu'il faut oublier.
Je vous souhaite des passions,
  je vous souhaites des silences.
Je vous souhaite des chants d'oiseau au réveil
  et des rêves d'enfants.
Je vous souhaite de résister à l'enlisement, à l'indifférence,
 aux vertus négatives de notre époque.
Je vous souhaite surtout d'être vous... 
After Leopold's death, the poem (today very well known) was found among his papers. The King's wife, Princess Lilian, long kept it safe in her purse, among her most precious documents.

On a related note, Leopold's daughter, Marie-Esmeralda, mentions in her memoirs that the King, for his part, also enjoyed translating and composing poetry. Unfortunately, though, I have never come across any of his work.


May said...

A translation of the poem:

"I wish you dreams to never end,
And the furious desire to realise a few.

I wish you to love what ought to be loved and to forget what ought to be forgotten.

I wish you passions, I wish you silences.

I wish you songs of birds on your waking, and children's dreams.

I wish you to resist the stalemate, the indifference, the negative virtues of our age.

I wish you, above all, to be yourself."

Leah Marie Brown said...

Another interesting post. I love reading about royalty I know so little about...