Zack Rogow

A Letter from George Sand

Nohant, the 12th of October, 1844

My Dear Henri,

Tonight the cold spreads its frosting
over the pastures. Down in the cellar,
the pears are turning
to honey. Maurice entertained us again this evening
with puppets he fashioned himself.
My beloved son has an extraordinary talent
for such creatures! It was a satire of the present
"Citizen-King" and the members of his tattered excuse
for a cabinet. If those men who bear
all the sashes and medals could but glimpse
what sour little puppets they have made of themselves!

Our era seems so dark to me, even
as we begin to make out the jagged range
in the far distance, half visible
by the light of a poppy moon.
What are people thinking
to accomplish by these stacks
and stacks of fear? Sometimes I wonder
if I might have been born in the wrong century,
if my soul was destined for some city
not yet founded, on a newer continent,
for a life two hundred years from now.

Casimir has been after me for gold again.
He sloshes it up as soon as he receives it. I just hope
he doesn't get the new maid pregnant
the way he did the last one. I thank my God that we live
halfway across France from one another.
He always appeared genuinely shocked
if I suggested there was anything beyond
burgundies and galloping after wild boar. So long
as Casimir leaves the children in my custody I will count
my blessings, although if Solange keeps unreeling
such tantrums, he may have her.

Chopin had another attack last Wednesday. Red
handkerchiefs like flags all over his bedroom. It seems to happen
whenever he's having difficulty on a piece,
as if it comes out as blood if it can't be squeezed
into music. He's as strong as a dry
leaf and I dare not add any shocks to those nerves,
made of prime numbers. He's improving now,
poor kitten, but there is no question
of our having any romance again
in the usual sense of the word. Merely to hear him
practice as I sit under the piano each evening
is an orgy! What an ending for me, the scarlet hussy
of the Latin Quarter, to be reduced
to the most matronly of nurses! I missed
my calling by becoming a scribbler,
I should have been an old saw-bones!

In any case, mon cher, you must not forget
to send me more of those ruby candies I adore,
the ones from the little shop across from the Louvre. I'm afraid
it's almost daybreak now and I still haven't finished
today's chapter in the novel I commenced
last week, so I must beg your pardon
for taking leave of you so soon. We are hungry
and thirsty for your visit at New Year's.

From my heart to yours,


Copyright 1996, Zack Rogow

Zack Rogow was inspired to write this poem while translating Horace, a George Sand
novel, from French to English. The translation was published by Mercury House.
Rogow's most recent book of poetry is A Preview of the Dream (Gull Books, 1985).
He can be reached at: