Denise de Chazal

Home/Diary / Letters/Denise de Chazal

Project Description

Denise age about 20

Poésie et mémoire de Denise de Chazal

Denise de Chazal (1909 – 1976)  < Edouard de Chazal (1864 – 1930) < Auguste de Chazal (1841 – 1910) < Edmond de Chazal (1809 -1879) < Toussaint de Chazal (1770 – 1822) – Régis de Chazal (1735 -1772) < Aimé de Chazal (1706 – 1771) < Jean-Baptiste Chazal (16.. – 1723)   

Born on November 28, 1909 in Curepipe, Mauritius, Denise de Chazal was a woman of intellectual and creative depth, a world traveller who radiated a great zest for life.  Schooled at home, she developed a radical curiosity about the world, literature, music and the arts.  French was her first language, which, in addition to her facility in Latin and English, provided her with an enviable and extensive vocabulary. 

Denise age about 35


Denise leaves a legacy of her skill as a poet in her book of poems, Ombres et Clartés, published in 1934 and which her youngest daughter, Jannie, has translated from French into English.  In addition, she leaves a memoir entitled One Moment in the Well of Time, where she eloquently describes her childhood in Mauritius. In 1934, Denise left Mauritius for London to marry Stafford George Mayer, (also born in Mauritius), where Stafford was completing his education as a physician and surgeon.

Denise survived the war in England with two small daughters, Moonyeen and Marilyx, while Stafford served in the Royal Army Medical Corps in Malta, Egypt and the Middle East.  After the war, the family moved to Durban, South Africa, where Stafford’s father had established The Stafford-Mayer Company, and where Stafford set up his medical practice.  In Durban, two more children were born, Rodney and Jannie, and in 1957, the family emigrated to Alberta, Canada.  Denise made significant contributions to each community where she lived, including the establishment of a children’s playground and a historical village. 

Denise age about 25

In 1976, Denise and Stafford retired to Denman Island in the Strait of Georgia, and bought a house overlooking a small bay where blue herons nested. Denise was happy to have come full circle back to the sea — from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific.  She died in September, 1976. 

Jannie Edwards

POEMS In french and English

Translation in English by Jannie Edwards, daughter of Denise :
What is lost in translation is form and rhyme — Denise was a formalist poet and her careful, inventive rhymes are so interesting. But I have tried to capture the spirit and moods in the poems.

A Beethoven


Sur les touches d’ivoire poli,

Deux mains  très pâles,

Et du grand Beethoven, le génie,

L’âme s’exhale.

La sonate du beau clair de lune,

En fluide.

Arpèges chante dans la nuit brune

Et languide.

Gémissements qui tuent, râles ivres,


La douloureuse cantate vibre

Dans le soir.

La plainte désespérée monte

En sanglots,

Et s’agite, s’enlève et monte

Tel le flot.

Farouche musique où palpitent,

Comme du sang.

Toutes les grandes douleurs écrites

L’’âme en sang.

Ame large d’humanité,

Où pleurèrent

Les immenses cris irrités

Des cœurs fiers.

Ame somptueuse de Beethoven,

Je t’adore.

Ce soir où les mauves cyclamens

En accord.

De lourds parfums, tendent leur chair,

Pour mieux entendre

Les sons aux ailes de chimère

Dans la nuit tendre

To Beethoven


On the polished ivory keys

Two hands, pale,

And the soul of the great  Beethoven, genius,


The sonata of beautiful moonlight,

Arpeggios sing in the night, dusky

And languid.

Intoxicated sighs, moans of

Grief sings, vibrating

In the night.

A desperate lament rises

In sobs,

Comes alive and is called out

As the tide climbs.

Wild throbbing music

Like blood.

All the great sorrows written

In blood in the soul.

Humanity’s large soul

In which weeps

The immense cries

Of proud hearts.

Beethoven, I adore you

Your sumptuous soul.

This night the mauve cyclamens


Heavy perfumes stretch their flesh

To better hear

The sound of winged chimera

In the tender night. . .



Le clair de lune rôde

Et se glisse en maraude

Le long des toits

Au fond des bois.

Il luit mille diamants

Sur les branches où, lents,

Les vers luisants

Glissent, gluants.

Il met une caresse

Sur la terre qui paresse,

Et se pare

De son phare.

Il pose un long baiser

Sur les lys irisés

Où, frêle chanterelle,

Dort une coccinelle.

Il plisse l’eau endormie

De rides infinies,

Et met au fond

Son gros œil rond.

Le mystère de l’ombre

Se fait encore plus sombre

A la fleur pâle

Qui, triste, râle . . .


Moonlight prowls


Over eaves

And deep in trees.

A thousand diamonds

Light branches where

Fireflies slowly

Slide and glide.

It caresses

The indolent land

And outshines

The lighthouse.

It plants a long kiss

On the shimmering lilies

Where a ladybird sleeps

On a frail toadstool.

It creases the sleeping water

With endless wrinkles,

And plants its huge round eye

On the depths.

The shadow’s mystery

Makes still more solemn

The pale flower

Which gasps and dies in sorrow.

Bertie Mayer with Denise de Chazal


Brune et somptueuse

Belle statue heureuse

Cambrant ses lourds reins fiers,

Elle passe, altière.

Ses longs cheveux de nuit

Ondulent, tous enduits

D’un parfum lancinant,

Où  l’opium se sent.

Ses sourcils, arcs hardis,

Marquent son front qui dit

L‘orgueil d‘être très belle,

Ardente et rebelle.

Ses yeux sont abîmes

Et son regard décime,

Profondeur d’océan

Où l’on se noie tremblant.

Ses narines palpitent

Aspirent la vie vite

Au rythme accéléré

D’une âme exaltée.

Sa bouche, fleur de sang,

S’entrouvre sur ses dents

D’un rire ensorcelant

Qui prend le plus défiant.

Son beau corps est sculpté

Dans sa chair passionnée,

Et ses siens opulents

Attirent les yeux lents.

Elle s’étire et s’enroule

Comme une souple houle

Et telle une panthère,

Elle fixe l’adversaire.

Une odeur émane d elle,

Et troublante, se mêle

A la puissante odeur

De la sève qui meurt.

Brune et somptueuse

Belle statue heureuse

Cambrant ses lourds reins fiers,

Elle passe, altière.

Et son oeil de gazelle,

Et sa bouche sensuelle,

Rejettent avec mépris

Le désir qui la suit.



Dusky and sumptuous

Glorious happy statue

Arching her sultry proud back,

She passes by, haughty.

Her long black hair

Waves, imbued

With haunting perfume,

An essence of opium.

Fearless arched eyebrows

Mark her forehead which declares

The pride of being so beautiful,

Blazing and rebellious.

Her eyes are gulfs

And her gaze decimates

The depths of the ocean

Where we drown, trembling.

Her nostrils flare

Breathing in quick life

With the racing pulse

Of a fevered soul.

Her mouth, blood flower,

Half open, shows  her teeth

With an enchanting laugh

Which defies all challenge.

Her beautiful body is sculpted

In passionate flesh

And her opulent breasts

Attract slow eyes.

She stretches and winds

Like an ocean swell.

A panther,

She stalks her prey.

Her heady perfume


With the powerful scent

Of dying sap.

Dusky and sumptuous

Glorious happy statue

Arching her sultry proud back,

She passes, haughty.

Her gazelle eyes

And sensual mouth

Spurn the desire

Which follows her

Stafford George Mayer


Je suis environnée ce soir d’une nuée

De fantômes épars tout au long des années,

Ils dansent au rythme d’une vielle pavane,

Tandis que al nuit bleue s’alanguit et se fane.

Mon enfance est là. Candides matins tenders

Qui rient de la joie de vivre et ont l’air d’attendre

On ne sait quel étrange et prodigieux bonheur

De la ronde éperdue des années et des heures.

Matins lumineux où tout vie, où tout est clair,

Où  l’on sent son âme, en fulgurant éclair,

Monter dans l’éclatant soleil et s’y noyer

Eperdu, embrasé dans cet ardent foyer.

Matins où l`on croit que vous appartient le monde

Où  les rires puérils balbutient une ronde,

Matins où l`on ne sait pas encor que tout meurt

Et que la vie n’est qu`un poignant  tissu de leurres.

Fantômes pales qui dansez, vous voici vous,

Les belles heures de ma jeunesse aux jours fous,

Aux ailes éployées pour longues années

De la vie, voyage escales hasardées.

Dans l`air bleu s`envolent les illusions heureuses,

Elles chantent, folles dans la brise jaseuse,

Chansons d`amour que l`on chante dans le printemps

A l`heure unique qui sonne au cadran du temps.

Renouveaux, frais espoirs, rêves flous, imprécis,

On croit que montent vers vous les bonheurs promis.

Viens, ô ma jeunesse en robe de tulle rose,

Penche-toi vers moi ce soir où tout est morose,

Redis-moi les très beaux contes qui me berçaient,

Tandis que dans l`ombre, les roses défaillaient.

Berce-moi, jeunesse, dans tes brans parfumés.

Redis, sans te lasser, les contes que tu sais.

Chante, sur le mode mineur, la symphonie

Aux tons lumineux, aux doux airs que fut ma vie.

Berce moi, et tandis que les jets d`eau sanglotent

Dans le jardin blanc de lune où les ombres flottent.

Les ombres fantômes qui m`entourent ce soir,

Endors moi, ma jeunesse, en me versant à


L`enivrante liqueur de la vie magnifique

Qui met dan mon sang de grands désirs nostalgiques.


I am encircled tonight by a swarm

Of scattered ghosts as long as years.

They dance to the rhythm of an old pavane,

While the blue night languishes and fades.

My childhood is there. Innocent tender mornings

That laugh with the joy of life and anticipation

Of who knows what strange and wonderful happiness

In the frantic cycle of years and hours.

Luminous mornings where all is alive and clear,

Where one feels one s soul, with vivid clarity,

Climb in the brilliant sunlight and plunge,

Bewildered, embraced in this fervent hearth.

Mornings where one believes one owns the world

Where childish laughter murmurs a roundelay,

Mornings where one forgets that all is mortal

And that life is not a web of lures.

Pale specters who dance, here you are you,

The beautiful hours and days of my mad youth,

With outspread wings for the many years

Of life, until the adventure stops.

Happy illusions fly through the blue air,

They sing, playful, in the chattering breeze,

Songs of love that one sings in spring

At the specific hour that rings the clock dial.

Revive, fresh hopes, dreams hazy and blurred,

Believe that you mount toward promised happiness.

Come, o my youth, dressed in rose tulle,

Bend toward me this night where all is gloomy.

Tell me again the beautiful tales that cradle me,

While in the shadows, roses fade away.

Soothe me, youth, in your perfumed arms.

Tell me again, without weariness, the tales you know.

Sing, in a minor key, the symphony

In luminous tones, the soft airs that was my life.

Cradle me, while the fountains weep

In the moonlit garden where shadows flutter.

Phantom shadows that surround me tonight,

Send me to sleep, my youth, pour me a drink,

The strong liquor of magnificent life

That stirs in my blood grand nostalgic desires.

Leave A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.