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A French Diseur Gives Poem A Voice

France – June 23, 2019 – Monsieur ALBERT DURANT, the well-known diseur (professional declaimer of verse) and founder of the voice-over company Diseurs de Beaux Textes (DDBT), has graciously responded to a call for a French recording of MacKenzie’s sonnet, A Notre Dame de Paris” composed the night of April 15 as flames were still rising from the roof of the great cathedral.

Albert Durant - Diseurs de Beaux Textes
Albert Durant – Diseurs de Beaux Textes

A previous call for voices, along with the poem itself, appeared in Laurent Glauzy’s popular Pro Fide Catholica where a young French poet left the following comment: “This poem greatly impresses me, by its grandeur of soul, let alone its stylistic breadth. Yes, here is a poetic work of great magnificence.”

On Sunday, Monsieur Durant surprised the world with his fine recording of the sonnet, giving a much-needed voice to a poem addressed to the Blessed Virgin Mary in her title of Our Lady of Paris. In the background of the recording can be heard the famous bells of Notre-Dame-de-Paris. A professional voice-over artist, Monsieur Durant has recorded a number of poems by Charles Baudelaire and others, but also the works of contemporary French poets.

The recording is a victory for traditional lyric poetry as well as a major defeat for modernist anti-poetry and formalist pseudo-poetry, especially as the sonnet could not follow more strictly the extremely rigorous laws of traditional French versification.

Ecrit le 15 avril 2019, durant que l’incendie avait lieu.

Vierge vénérable, dans les temps d’autrefois,
De l’amour de ton Fils, dans nos cœurs nous brulâmes.
En tes saints lieus chacun t’apportait une flamme,
Dans ces beaux jours d’antan, printemps de notre foi.

Nous prêtâmes l’oreille à la divine voix
De Dieu dans son église, et toi, Reine sans blâme,
Que le monde vénère et les anges proclament,
Tu guidas doucement ton peuple dans ta voie.

Hélas, comme un corbeau, déjà la nuit descend
Sur notre siècle de terreur et de sang,
Le Fleuron de Paris rayé de notre Histoire.

Ma Mère, donne-nous de transformer en fleurs,
A remettre à tes pieds, nos plaintes et nos pleurs,
Afin de préparer l’autel de ta victoire.

From Sonnets for Heaven’s Queen © Joseph Charles MacKenzie. All rights reserved.

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