La belle fleur sauvage

La Belle Fleur Sauvage is one of my favorite Lord Huron songs. The title means “the beautiful wildflower.” It has the pathos of an anti-love song; the flower does not deign to be partnered with a man.

What you're looking for won't be found easily
It grows upon the mountain in a sacred place
Up beyond the clouds, in ancient ground, so they say
And many men have died trekking up that away

What motif has been more captivating to the male mind than a beautiful, dangerous woman?

The song, though a favorite, can be read as problematic. It is about a man who would be the one to pluck this women-flower, and, when he dies, he wants her lying by his side in his grave.

Once he's gazed upon her, a man is forever changed
The bravest men return with darkened hearts and phantom pain
Ages come and go but her life goes on the same
She lives to see the sun and feel the wind and drink the rain

I prefer to focus on the eery imagery describing the woman.

She reminds me of the Loreley/Lorelei, a siren legend born on the shores of Germany’s Rhein River. The myth was derived from a particularly perilous curve of the river. Dangerous not only because of strong currents, but also because of the echoing effect of one bank’s steep rock face, which was named “Loreley” in part from the German verbs lureln (to murmur) and lauern (to lurk, lie in wait). There are many forms of this myth, but Heinrich Heine’s poem “Die Lorelei” immortalized her. A statue was erected to commemorate her spirit.

The fairest maiden is sitting
In wondrous beauty up there,
Her golden jewels are sparkling,
She combs her golden hair.

She combs it with a golden comb
And sings a song the while;
It has an awe-inspiring,
Powerful melody.

It seizes the boatman in his skiff
With wildly aching pain;
He does not see the rocky reefs,
He only looks up to the heights.

I think at last the waves swallow
The boatman and his boat;
And that, with her singing,
The Loreley has done.

The Lorelei lurks there, even still: the last major wreck was in 2011.

A beautiful wildflower, indeed.

Author: Alaina

writer + explorer

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