more bats and bell towers

bell mechanism, Brecon cathedral

Yesterday I quoted Claude Debussy as having said:

The colour of my soul is iron-grey and sad bats wheel about the steeple of my dreams.

I’d found the quotation on the web, but, as with so much information out there today, there was no source cited and no original French.

So I went looking and found this in a footnote of Debussy: his life and mind, Volume 1 by Edward Lockspeiser:

J’ai en ce moment l’âme gris-fer et de tristes chauves-souris tournent au clocher de mes rêves!

Which makes it look as if the quotation is genuine.

I think of ‘wheel’ meaning to swoop, and the only bats I know are far too dithery to do that; as for the clocher, I can only assume it’s where the bells are kept, not the pointed spire on top, so I would probably have rendered the quotation into English as:

Currently, my soul is iron-grey and sad bats circle the bell-tower of my dreams.

Personally, I still can’t picture a flying bat as sad. Nor, other than with respect to their wings, can I relate the ‘bald mice’ I am see hiding in the French with the furry little creatures I have seen pictures of.

The photo? One of the bells at Brecon cathdral in South Wales. As far as I remember, it was in a square bell tower that had no steeple.

Author: don't confuse the narrator

Exploring the boundary between writer and narrator through first person poetry, prose and opinion

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