By Ian von Franckenstein
It was a “Year Before Last,” “1939,” she recalled, when all of Europe was teetering on the edge of a certain human calamity of epic proportions. She was soon to become witness to that “Generation Without Farewell.” But now she was part of another generation, a generation that found itself immersed in a land foreign to her native tongue and customs. Some called it the Lost Generation, yet she never included herself in that group. Instead, she now found herself part of a new and vibrant time, lending fresh voice to the turbulence that permeated her world. “The Underground Woman” stood poised and confident, ready to spread her literary wings like “The Seagull on the Step” she spied one early morning a lifetime ago.
“A Frenchman must Die”… “there can be no other way,” she said softly to herself, as wartime chaos engulfed her.
It was on a “Monday Night,” a night that she perched herself high above the flank of “The Smoking Mountain.” “The White Horses of Vienna” pranced proudly, haunted and vain below her. Her thoughts cascaded about her, suddenly smothering her in a sea of sorrow, an “Avalanche” of wrenching emotion. She climbed ever higher far above the smoldering ashes of a lost humanity below. A stillness settled upon her, like that day she remembered so far away, that “Wedding Day,” her wedding day when she became wife to “The First Lover” in her young life. Then came a second one: “My Next Bride,” he shouted gleefully, even triumphantly! Known to many in bohemian circles as the ever-impetuous thrill-seeker, when infused with French spirit, this man, this artist was “The Primer of Combat” in her life. He was forever “The Crazy Hunter” of all that was eccentric and mad. “This might not all have happened,” she thought, “had not the “Death of a Man” with whom she bore her first child occurred.
“A Frenchman Must Die,” she cried out again. But her King of Bohemia did not hear her for so “Plagued by the Nightingale” of the Parisian nights was he.
Rain began to fall, first gently, then soon in torrents. It pounded the land and washed the countryside clean of burned bones and black blood. And then the sun broke through brooding skies. “Gentlemen,” she whispered softly, “Gentlemen, I Address You Privately,” but there was no response. “His Human Majesty” was nowhere to be seen. That did not deter her. She became resolute once again, consumed with courage, steadfast in the presence of adversity even when a nightingale reminded her that “Nothing Ever Break Except the Heart. So it all came to a quiet ending. Her lips formed the words but barely could one hear them say:
“Auf wiedersehen Abend.”
Ian von Franckenstein is Kay Boyle’s son. “Titles” was his contribution to the inaugural panel of the Kay Boyle Society, on 27 May, 2006, at the annual American Literature Association conference in San Francisco.