By the Pale Moonlight–another look at characters

Hey, so last week I shared some thoughts about character perspectives in books vs. movies, and a funny story from Anne Lamott’s book, ‘Bird by Bird’.

A song I wrote recently (‘By the Pale Moonlight’) has an interesting character perspective switch half-way through that I wanted to share with you. I based the song on the well-known French song “Au Claire de la Lune”.

“Au Clair de la Lune” is a common French folk song that dates back to at least the mid-18th Century. In 2008, the earliest known recording of the human voice was digitized, and the unknown singer on the recording is singing a small snippet of “Au Clair de la Lune”.

In this song, the story begins from the perspective of a lonely poet/author, who is knocking on his friend’s door so he can borrow a pen and light his candle in the middle of the night.

Back in those days, if you wanted to stay up all night with creative ideas or wake up at 3 in the morning and write something down, you’d better hope you have ink for your pen and some coals left in the fireplace to light your candle with!

A couple verses in, the perspective changes.

Is it from his friend’s perspective as he watches from his window, or just an omnipotent perspective?

Here’s how my english version of the song goes:

At your door I’m knocking

By the pale moonlight

Lend a pen I beg you

I’ve a word to writecandle

Dark now is my candle

My fire burns no more

For the love of heaven

Open up your door

 

My friend cries in answer

By the pale moonlight

“In my bed I’m lying

Late and chill’s the night

Yonder at the neighbor’s

Someone is astir

Fire’s freshly kindled

Oh get a light from her.”

 

To the neighbor’s house then

By the pale moonlight

Goes our lonely author

To beg a pen to write

“Who knocks there so softly?”

Calls a voice above

“Open wide your door now

It is the God of Love.”

 

Seek they pen and candle

By the pale moonlight

They can see so little

Dark is now the night

What they find in seeking

That is not revealed

All behind her door 

Is carefully concealed

 

And in my version of this song, I finish up by singing the first line in French (what they are saying in French is a bit different from the English version):

Au clair de la lune
Mon ami Pierrot
Prete-moi ta plume
Pour écrire un mot

Ma chandelle est morte
Je n’ai plus de feu
Ouvre-moi ta porte
Pour l’amour de Dieu

matthias_stom_young_man_reading_by_candlelight1

If you want to hear me play the full song, just click here! (the song starts at around 4:40 in the video)

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. 🙂

Please comment below to share your thoughts about writing, characters, or song-writing (or anything else this topic made you think of!)…

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