paul cézanne's prayer
29 September 2023
Henri de Régnier, “La Prière de Paul Cézanne,” Vestigia Flammae (Paris: Mercure de France, 1921), pp. 223–224 (my translation):
Lord of light, air, and cloud,
You to Whom I have called so often,
Look on the hard and weary features of my poor face,
The mouth beneath the beard and the stubborn forehead;
Consider the eyes which have gazed on things
With such determination to know the truth of them,
And see these hands, gnarled and weakened
By the painful effort of their sincerity;
And now, Lord, in Your mercy,
Hear me and let me be, tomorrow, by Your grace,
The faithful servant whom the master grants
A simple tomb in a corner of the garden.
I have spent long days in honest labour,
And I made the most of the little I received.
No deceit ever soiled my palette,
And my eyes never betrayed what they saw.
Others sought tumult and glory,
But I only wanted the humble laurel
Whose leaves, almost black, grow sombrely
At the doorstep of the true artist and good workman.
And this is why, Lord, having lived my life,
To the moment of my death, in the place were I was born,
I offer You these bright eyes in a poor face,
And this forehead, and these hands, and this wilful stare.
Accept them, and take also these round apples,
These grapes, and these fruits which I painted as best as I was able,
For to me their contour was the shape of the world
And all eternal light is in them.
Click here for a link to the original on Archive.org.