Juliette Gréco is singing Over the Rainbow
as she walks home through Paris
after her interrogation by the Gestapo.
Judy Garland, full-throated, echoes off the Boulevards,
decommissioning silence, adding a few notes
to joy’s chapter in the book of life.
She is singing it now, to the absence of you and me,
an absence felt tenderly,
like the eternal maybe between octaves.
Juliette Gréco is young, when all is lost,
and yet only youth is final,
the sky’s particular blue is complete,
The city already full, and Bogart will always tell Bacall
nous aurons toujours.
To say “Keats is done” denotes no failure at all.
She, at least, will never leave Paris,
after all, she has sung for it, and what else
could possibly be real?
“The importance of American music for a whole generation is summed up by a story told by Juliette Gréco. She had been arrested by the Gestapo in 1943, held in a cell, and then, to her surprise, freed again. She walked eight miles home through wintry streets in a thin cotton dress, and as she walked, she defiantly sang an American song at the top of her voice: ‘Over the Rainbow.’ from Sarah Bakewell, “At the Existentalist Cafe: Freedom, Being & Apricot Cocktails” p.167