Nearing eighty, Fauré has found the end
of sound. He never would have guessed
it had so much to do with the Mediterranean
light of childhood, or lake breezes swirling
all summer at Savoy, and so little to do
with music growing quieter everywhere
but in his mind. He is relieved to hear
the garbled edge of what had been music,
his torment for twenty years, fading at last
to silence. If only his breath would follow!
He believes he is finished with the flesh,
his face now thin and delicate as a lost note
dissolving in air, his body closing in
on itself, the discordant coda to a life
of elegance and song. He would become
spirit instead, simple and radiant at the level
of pure grace, diaphanous against nightfall.
He hoards his bare, inner music and must
force himself to reduce it to notes on a page.
Alone, deaf to street noise below, the call
of birds above, seeing the Paris sky glazed
with loud sunlight, he feels wrapped
in melody’s softest shroud. It is exquisite,
as he always knew it must be, and almost
liquid in the way it lifts him toward the clouds.
The Image archive is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.