During a rainy period in June of 1916, Anaïs Nin, then 13 years of age, recorded the following in her diary (translated from the French in Linotte):
Thursday, June 8, 1916
It has rained without stopping all day today. Since I couldn’t go for a walk, I studied all my lessons, and then I began to look out the window. The rain kept falling and the drops fell ceaselessly with little “floc floc” sounds. Floc! Floc! the rain continued and this time I looked at the sky. The sky was full of clouds and that made me feel a little sad because it seemed to me those clouds were made expressly for me, as if to announce the clouds in my future life. Then I put those thoughts aside and left the window.
Sunday, June 11, 1916
Yesterday and today it has rained all day and we didn’t go to Riverside as we usually do. Saturday I spent the day sewing, reading, writing and thinking…
After Mass [this morning], I came home to breakfast and I spent the morning helping Maman. Then we had lunch and Maman took us to the cinema. After seeing 3 very nice films, we came home; it was 6. We had a little cold supper of sandwiches, cake and milk. That is how we spent Sunday.
Now I am thinking of tomorrow, Monday, and with sadness I see the school doors opening just enough to let us in, then closing on our dear freedom. Next come serious lessons, punishments, long stern faces, and above all the big blackboard with little chalk marks that dance before my eyes like little demons that are there just to torture the brain and tire the eyes. Then all that disappears and I sit here sadly, looking at the clock. 10 ½ hours separate me from the studies that I like but fear because of the teachers who scold and are so hard to please. (Linotte, pp. 129, 130-131)
To help her escape from the mundane and sometimes menacing daily life, young Anaïs absorbed herself in a monthly “magazine” entitled Le Compagnon de L’oublie. In her June 1916 “issue,” one of her works was a poem entitled “La Tempête” (“The Storm”), perhaps inspired by the long melancholy period of rain she wrote about in her diary. A translation appears below:
In the country, the trees bend
Under the weight of the rain
That is falling in huge drops, under the name cheater,
For it brings a second night.
The sky clears, illuminating the earth for a second,
And then frightens the sleeping birds
With a great clap of thunder, and like bitter tears
The drops of rain become noisily mixed with those already fallen.
Nature, frightened, hides under the rustling leaves,
The flowers close under this brutal dew
And the soaked earth boasts of bearing this squall alone.
The birds, flapping their wings, lift themselves up
And murmur softly, “The Storm.”
On the sea, the holy anger becomes rage,
The waves beat furiously,
Sharing the sky’s fury.
The gloomy wind blows and beats the sails with a clamor,
While the ocean, in a supreme effort,
Hesitating and becoming one great wave,
A new voice conjuring,
In its sad and plaintive timbre,
A new force among the other cries,
And while the terrified seabirds seek a hiding place
In the depths of the few rocks along the coast,
The seamen in their crumbling boats
Shake their heads, saying, “Here is The Storm.”
And God contemplates His work,
A smile appearing in his white beard,
Seeing the fear,
In his black columns, becoming white,
And while the weather continues shuddering,
God says to Himself softly,
“Poor Man! He cannot see
Anything in my greatness.
Blind, undisciplined! Poor Man!
It’s a storm!”
Copyright The Anais Nin Trust; translation copyright Sky Blue Press. All rights reserved.