Tag Archives: Clair de Lune

Orientation, Day 2: Celebrating in Minor Strain

Today was a long day. A mentally stimulating, yet thoroughly exhausting day. We had our first course lecture (and it’s not even the first official day of school yet!) and learned what “briefing a case” means. We have to tackle it ourselves before we reconvene tomorrow morning.

I am excited. I want to be challenged. I want to be living in a new city and meeting new people. I want to have this intellectual forum that helps me grapple with the questions of freedom, inherent human rights, the rights of the government in relation to individuals…questions I’ve thought about for years.

But I’m also feeling uncomfortable as hell. I moved here knowing that I left what was, despite my itch to move somewhere new, ultimately comfortable – my best friends, the life-changing experiences and people that gave great meaning to my college years, a city I loved, and family living within a couple-hour drive. While I’m starting to meet people here, friendships aren’t exactly solidified yet. Two wonderful new 1L friends I did make today both discussed their supportive, calming significant others. Not something I can relate to at the moment!

Let’s move to law. Reading cases is hard work! I have to look up words within definitions of other words. I find myself having conversations with the cases within the margins of the cases. I find myself arguing with my own reasoning that I thought was just SO brilliant just two minutes prior. To put it simply, I’ve never felt more intellectually unstable in my entire life.

On this first day of pseudo-law school, something pretty cool became actualized, though – a thing that people have been saying to me for years. It goes something like: “Becca. Music will probably keep you happy in your adult life. You might not be taking lessons anymore, but never stop playing. It’ll be the best way for you to unwind.” Indeed, the first thing I did when I got home tonight was play one of my favorite piano pieces, Claude Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” The music is based off of the Paul Verlaine poem of the same title. I’ve always found the poem to be hauntingly beautiful, and the music equally so. While my mind may feel a bit strained today, it’s minor. I will overcome.

The poem describes the feelings of uncertainty (and sometimes even sadness!) that can accompany even the most celebratory of times. Fitting for what I – along with many of my classmates, I’m sure – are feeling as we begin a victorious, yet arduous, three-year journey together.

Listen here to the piano piece, and below is the poem (translated from its original French) on which the music, and the title of this post, are based:



Your soul is as a moonlit landscape fair,

Peopled with maskers delicate and dim,

They play on lutes and dance and have an air

Of being sad in their fantastic trim.


The while they celebrate in minor strain

Triumphant love, effective enterprise,

They have an air of knowing all is vain, –

And through the quiet moonlight their songs rise,


The melancholy moonlight, sweet and lone,

That makes to dream the birds upon the tree,

And in their polished basins of white stone

The fountains tall to sob with ecstasy.



Filed under Law School, The Stuff of Life