Venice has 'captured' the heart, mind and imagination of so many writers, poets, artists and historians. Venice is one of my favourite subjects in art, literature and history, and I am always eager to learn more and look more at this unique and special place. This Venice blog is my way of collecting the wealth of images, poems, prose and impressions of Venice.

Monday 17 February 2014

Que C’est Triste Venise/ How Sad Venise Can Be

My first memory of hearing about a city called ‘Venice’ was sitting with my Grampa and listening to French pop singer Charles Aznavour’s , Que C’est Triste Venise. 

Aznavour first recorded the song in 1964, and later recorded translations in Spanish, English (How Sad Venice Can Be) and Italian.  Grampa and I listened to it in every language that Aznavour recorded.  The song was old-fashioned even when I was child, but I love it still. 

My wonderful Grampa died last week, and I’ve been trawling through the Charles Aznavour playlist in my Itunes library, remembering Grampa, missing Grampa, and wishing I could share just one more phone call with him, hug him just one more time. 

My grandfather was determined and courageous.  He was sentimental and romantic and adventurous.  He embraced life whole heartedly.  He showed his emotions readily, and he taught me about dedication, commitment, faith, integrity and honesty.  He was my parent and he was my dearest friend.

He gave me so much, including my earliest imagining of what that magical city called Venice might be like - my first dreams of Venice, of Piazza San Marco and its pigeons, the Bridge of Sighs and the Basilica San Marco - they all came from those peaceful, precious times, listening to Aznavour with my Grampa.

How sad Venice can be when you return alone
To find a memory in every paving stone
I walk among the birds that fill San Marco's Square
With echoes of her words around me in the air.

How sad Venice can be when the mandolins play
A song she sung for me, one unforgotten day
Like images of sleep, the gondoliers go by
But when I try to weep, I find my tears are dry.

How sad Venice can be when mist is in your eyes
And you can hardly see, as pigeons fill the skies
I find the little street and then the old café
Where we would always meet to dream away the day.

How sad Venice can be, beneath the silent moon
That rises from the sea and silvers the lagoon
I hear the vespers chime and cross the Bridge of Sighs
I know that it is time to bid my last goodbyes.

There's nothing more to say, I pass beneath the light
And then I turn away from Venice in the night
How sad Venice can be, it's too lonely to bear
When you have lost the love that you discovered there.

How Sad Venice Can Be, by Charles Aznavour and Françoise Dorin

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