There was something about the golden, end-of-day sunlight and the way the crashing surf was hitting the seawalls in Biarritz that brought to my mind a vague recollection of a book I read in a French class a very long time ago. I had to think for a minute to place it, and came up with the author: Chateaubriand--the guy who was the founding father of Romanticism in French literature (and, yes, after whom that cut of beef is named).
I have to laugh when I read this now. Maybe it was just better in French, and the English translation turns it into purple prose. Or, now that I'm an adult with kids of my own, René doesn't speak to my state of mind and seems decadent and self-indulgent. But I have to admit: there is something about Chateaubriand's depiction of the wild landscape and the angst of youth--and the feeling I had when I first read it--that has stayed with me all these years.
Since I must write a poem:
Off the Atlantic
sweep the winds of memory,
souvenirs of youth