SLEEP, MY LITTLE CABBAGE

Standard

Now the making will unmake
And the sewing will unsew;
How long will the longing take
‘Til the letting will let go?

Fais do-do, fais do-do
Mon p’tit chou si doux, si beau.

Falling dark must surely fall,
The slow blowing will unblow;
Walls of safety will unwall,
Cradle rock unto, unfro.

Fais do-do, fais do-do
Mon p’tit chou si doux, si beau.

Good-bye comes to be ungood
As the hello’s unhello;
Missing is misunderstood,
Knowing’s clouded to unknow.

Fais do-do, fais do-do
Mon p’tit chou si doux, si beau.

Broken heart will not unbreak,
Wish will not make go ungo,
So, my little cabbage cake
Take my love, now, fais do-do…

Fais do-do, fais do-do
Mon p’tit chou si doux, si beau.

.
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SLEEP, MY LITTLE CABBAGE
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“Fais do-do” is a French expression, “do-do” being a diminutive of the verb “dormir,” (to sleep). It is a way of saying go to sleep, usually to small children.
“Mon p’tit chou” is literally “my little cabbage” but is used figuratively as an affectionate expression like the English “my pet.”
This poem was written last week as a lullaby to my cat, Beau, a companion for 16 years, as I watched him pass away peacefully in his sleep. Translation of the French refrain: Β “Go to sleep, go to sleep, my little pet, so beautiful, so sweet.”

83 responses »

    • I guess it did, Yvonne; the old voice is not too steady on days like this. But thank you so much for seeing beauty in it. I think you know what this kind of companionship is all about..

  1. Dear Cynthia, my heart broke as I listened to your recitation – memories of my own losses crowding round, of holding little furry bodies as they breathed their last. How fortunate Beau was to have you there quietly watching over him – and Lulu too – as he left. I hope you will have moments of recalling happy times starring Beau in the days to come. The blessing lies, not in keeping our loved ones by our sides forever, but in recalling with joy the days they were there beside us. The blessing lies in having loved. xo

      • I shall (may) try to make something of it (musically). Because it (the poem) deserves it… Beau deserves it… But (since moving house) my technical things are all unplugged, and the land-lord-from-hell (the previous ones) are still swooping down and demanding blood. (It’s the smell of money). Ah! How the passing of Beau will put things into perspective… I shall try, but no hurry…

  2. Cynthia, I’m very sorry for your loss, it’s always so hard to say goodbye to a beloved companion. This final lullabye you’ve made is sad and sweet, heartbreaking and wonderful.

  3. Cynthia, there is no way I could let this one pass without visiting and giving you my love and to say how sad I feel for you. We know they will go, and expect our very old companions to leave us but the blow when it happens is no softer for the knowing. This poem is so very beautiful. I am so very very sorry you have lost your gorgeous beau but clichΓ©d as it may sound he will always be with you. I remember your poem about him a good while back which inspired me to write a poem about my Poppy.

    • What a pleasure to find your comment here, today, Christine. I miss you and hope your “hiatus” from blogging is being a good thing for you. (I say “hiatus” because that’s what movie stars call the time between films, and I think of you as a star in the movie which is my blogging experience. πŸ™‚ ) Of course you understand about elderly cats….I remember your scare with Poppy not so long ago. Thank you so much for coming to comment and for such comforting words. xo

      • You see! You always teach me something! I’ve never heard ‘hiatus’ used this way before. 😊

        Yes, the break is doing the trick and it will be a good while before Im back I think. Im still going to the writing group but haven’t been for a good few weeks now; health issues aside from the MS have plagued me this winter.

        You appear in my thoughts often as I always have your book close by, but I know that for a while now you will be in the forefront of my mind as you go through the initial grieving for your beautiful Beau. As we know grief never goes; it merely changes with time.

        Sending love and a comforting (I hope) hug. xx

        • You are so right…it never goes away, but changes with time. It’s interesting, too, how one loss will trigger the memory to recall other losses…and that’s the hardest part, when you start thinking in vivid images of the past, or in universals. But I’m glad to hear from you. Spring is coming, and I picture you talking to your bees among the flowers of your garden soon. My own mobility really sucks, so I can only imagine how hard the winter is on you. Please take special care of yourself. You have my email address. Much love.

  4. Oh, Cyn, this is exquisite song of sorrow! My heart is breaking as I listen to you sing it over and over. What a jewel…you capture the unique tender love of this kitty whom we have come to know through your loving words in other poems. Thank you for sharing your tender love with Beau with all of us. It reminds me that in Love there is no hierarchy…Love is Love – and blessed is she who has tasted Love so deeply as you have, my friend. Thank you so much for your song, sweet lullaby, so beautifully crafted!

    • You know, Julie, this just wrote itself…no long pondering or struggle for the right words. It’s magical when they just spill out like that. A mystery, too, that they occurred in French….maybe because of his name. But the morning of the day he died, when I knew it would not be much longer, that refrain just popped into my head as I lay in bed in that weird space of not-quite-awake. As Shakespeare said, there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in our philosophies. Thank you for all your kind words; they are a consolation.

      • yes, I know your poems come through that way! It is your gift. I am glad that my response is balm to your heart.

  5. I get sad at many things, but the loss of a pet tops the list.

    Your poem is beautiful, your feelings genuine–and that’s why it’s so hard to go through this.

    • I have lost pets before, of course, so you would think it gets easier, but it doesn’t. And my truly peculiar memory for odd phrases recalls how you once wrote of your beloved Angelina as becoming stardust in the compages of heaven—or something like that. That’s a nice image to entertain…Thanks, Prospero. You have an understanding heart. (I promise not to tell anyone.)

    • Yes. It’s interesting how many songs, old and new, there are about cats, and the loss of a beloved cat. I think my favorite one, though is the very old one called “The Cat Came Back,”..not that I believe in resurrection or re-incarnation or anything….Thanks for the sympathetic comment, mistermuse.

  6. Oh, Cynthia, this is a sweet poem as well as a sad and real one. Ma petite chou-chou is such an endearing expression. I am sorry he has gone (and hope the ground thaws soon). It is very hard to lose a pet, but when you can redeem it with some poetry or art, that’s good.

    • It’s true that being able to deal with it through poetry or art is very helpful, and has some kind of redemptive effect. The ground should thaw soon and he will be buried in the garden I’ve ordered a perennial Nepeta (cat mint) to plant over his grave…the variety is “Purrsian Blue”! They say it attracts butterflies and hummingbirds too…

  7. Dear Cynthia,

    Your lullaby to lovely Beau is so beautiful, so moving. It was his time to go, I guess, but profound indeed is the sense of loss when a furry friend of so many years is gone. He was a lucky cat to have been so loved and will live on always in memory.

    Sincere condolences,

    Paul

    • A lullaby seemed more appropriate than a dirge, here Paul, and I am pleased that you find it beautiful and moving. It just nearly wrote itself. We do get attached to our fur persons, and this little guy Beau was, like his name, a true beauty. Death is an eternal theme of poetry, as is love, and we never seem to run out of the urge to write more poems about these things, even though the world is full of such poems. One’s own experience is ever new and vibrant, and sharing it with others seems inevitable, and good. Thank you so much for your comment.

  8. That’s a very beautiful poem, Cynthia; simple; direct; perfectly handled. A loving tribute. And it looks as though you gave your little companion the most comforting death he could have had.

    • I love the simplicity of the lullaby, John, but they seem impossible to write, unless the thing just comes of itself, from the heart, in the moment. Overthinking and overworking kills it. This one made me wonder why we have so many for babies, and almost none at all for creatures approaching the greatest sleep of all. Your kind words are, as always, an encouragement and at this time a comfort, too. Thank you.

  9. What a beautiful elegy, Cynthia. I hope the memories of a good companion will soothe the loss a little. All my best, Melissa

  10. I always feel so very inadequate, at times like these. I feel the pain conveyed, oh, so much more deeply than is at all good for me; and I fear that my words will ring hollow and insincere. Whereas, in my mind at least, it is the sincerity of my being that may be my one redeeming character. God knows it’s not the hair…
    I am so, so sorry for your loss, and wish you the joy of your friend and companion. I wish I could take the pain for you.

    • I think I have figured out, by now, that you could never be hollow or insincere…not even if you tried, which you wouldn’t . And since I have never observed your hair, I can make no judgement about that….optional privacies being, ironically, one of the wonderfulnesses of our blogging world! But seriously, I deeply appreciate your stopping by to express condolence precisely BECAUSE I sense that it is not your usual or easy thing. I consider you a friend; and here you are, being a good friend. Thank you, my friend.

  11. Oh how sad for you Cynthia – I’m very sorry to read about Beau. The loss of a pet, especially of 16+ years, is very painful. Love your beautiful goodbye note – a very special read and recording. Hugs to you my friend.

  12. Beautiful song and rhythm and words to give your pet. And there is an interesting truth here, though all the making will unmake, a broken heart will not unbreak…and I think I wait for mine to unbreak…all the sewing unsew and yet no mending for the heart…?

    • Very interesting observations and query, Anna. I was probably thinking not so much of my personal heartbreak, here, but of a kind of universal undoing and chaos that the death of a beloved creature brings to one’s world…a necessary lullaby in the face of necessary sleep. Thank you so much for coming to read and comment.

  13. Oh Cynthia, I am so sorry to hear that your sweet Beau passed away. I believe in eternal life, and in future reunion of loving hearts. Your poem says me how loved he was. Run free, old buddy. Peace and light to you.

  14. What a beautiful, mesmerising send-off for Beau. It caught me by the throat as yesterday (while not a tragedy) was a day I wish had never been. Some things cannot be returned to their former state and we have to make the transition to a new state of affairs and that often involves pain. Wonderful, satisfying, complex use of words to give a real sensation of this reluctance to let go, while simultaneously welcoming peace.

    • You always seem to speak of my poems in words that have me nodding and saying: Hilary gets it, form and content, she really gets it. I am sorry to hear that some kind of adversity has visited, and though I don’t know what it is, I am picking up on the distress. I hope you will weather the transition, and for a lessening of any pain, my friend. Thanks as always for coming by and commenting.

  15. I may not have commented when I first experienced this poem, but it’s been in my mind ever since. And so, I’ve returned to thank you and to say I’ve been thinking of you and Beau.

    • That is so sweet of you, Inese. I’m having a bit of a rough time—and went and got a bad cold on top of it :-)—but I am old enough to have seen much worse, and I know it’s only a matter of the time passing. Spring is coming and that’s a good thing! Thank you so much for your kindness. ❀

      • Oh I am so sorry, Cynthia! Hope you take care of yourself, keep your feet warm, and stay indoors. Last time I had cold I mixed a teaspoon of honey, tiny slices of ginger and lemon juice, and took it several times a day. After just a few days I was as good as new. I am a believer in natural remedies and positive thoughts. Your cold is related to stress. I assure you that Beau is in a good place, resting after the long jorney, and everything is under control. Universe is wise and just. xxxxxx

        • I am a believer in natural remedies too….honey, lemon, ginger, and rooibos tea are the wonderful helps I use against a cold. The mind and the body work together, and so you are right about the stress….I haven’t had a cold in several years, and it just appeared now! Yes, I agree the universe is wise and just….it is what is. Thank you!

  16. Sadness to read of your loss, Cynthia.
    A consummate lullaby – encompassing the feelings and the process we share as our loved ones fade to eternal sleep. Bet Beau has bounced awake in the space he now shares, so appreciative of your bond and caring which carries on beyond the physical and is never forgotten – on either side! πŸ™‚
    May you find your peace feeling the support and understanding from so many.
    Thoughts and hugs…

    • It’s just morning here, Rob, and as I come to check on my blog mail I am happy to see your smiling face! I hope you are finding your break fruitful, even though we miss you. Yes, each loss through death seems to spend a bit of one’s own life in a way that can never be recovered, but moves one along the inevitable path of WHAT IS. I love lullabys in their utter simplicity and haunting beauty….thank you so much for your compliment to this one, and for your thoughts and hugs. πŸ™‚

  17. I am so very sorry for your loss. Animals are intertwined in our lives and become significant friends. They stride on to replace other losses: friends, family, things we used to be able to do, places we used to be able to go. How terrible to lose little Beau.

    • Thank you, Natalie. I know you especially love cats and understand how brilliant they are. Beau was not ill, and died peacefully with Lulu, the other cat by his side. I miss him terribly, and of course you’re right about that intertwining with our lives. The loss of this one little cat brings back memories of so many years.

    • It’s inevitable, of course, and we know it, but still a difficult thing. And just this week I had to euthanize my twelve-year-old dog. When it rains, it pours. Thanks for coming by, beeblu and for your sympathetic words.

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