This picture was taken in June 2016 during a conveying passage between northeast Sardinia’s Madalena islands and the island of Procida, in the north of the Naple’s bay in Italy. We had been quietly sailing under rear wind for most part of the day when the wind dropped at dusk. Heavy clouds stood still covering the sky, reducing visibility around us in prelude of a dark night that was moonless anyway. We still had ten hours of navigation ahead and we were distributing tasks among the crew for the shifts to be hold during the night. The sun had just set a couple minutes before…
Qui aimes-tu le mieux, homme énigmatique, dis? ton père, ta mère, ta sœur ou ton frère?
– Je n’ai ni père, ni mère, ni sœur, ni frère.
– Tes amis?
– Vous vous servez là d’une parole dont le sens m’est resté jusqu’à ce jour inconnu.
– Ta patrie?
– J’ignore sous quelle latitude elle est située.
– La beauté?
– Je l’aimerais volontiers, déesse et immortelle.
– Je le hais comme vous haïssez Dieu.
– Eh! qu’aimes-tu donc, extraordinaire étranger?
– J’aime les nuages… les nuages qui passent… là-bas… là-bas… les merveilleux nuages!
(Baudelaire: Le Spleen de Paris. Petits poèmes en prose, I)
I love literature, and in particular the French classics, so I always take one with me when travelling, inland or at sea. Charles Baudelaire gives me a good opportunity to write a few words on The Stranger, a short poem he compiled in “Paris Spleen”, a collection of short prose poems written between 1855 and 1864 and published posthumously in 1869. Ahmed, a friend of mine who offered me the book, told me not long ago that this poem was the origin of the famous novel “L’étranger” by Albert Camus, which took the name and its plot after Baudelaire’s poem. I like to believe this because either way, the poem perfectly summarizes the novel, or the novel perfectly develops the poem… Now, behind my laptop, and far away from the sea, I think back to this pleasant memory and make the link with the poem in relation to Slocum Wing Boats.
First of all because of the title itself, “the stranger”, a person who does not know or is not known in a particular place or community. You will certainly realize that I am speaking for myself… I am the stranger. And in a certain way, we are all strangers, to somebody or somewhere.
Second, for the clouds, which are an iconic expression of the wind in the sky and the primary propulsion system of our boats.
Last, but not least, because of the powerful connection between ourselves and the forces of nature that are so impressively sizable while sailing…
bon vent à tous!