This is the end for which we twain are met

The Petrified Forest, 1936, starring Bette Davis, Leslie Howard, and Humphrey Bogart.

One of my favorite movies. Though I’ve watched it many times, I can never tire of it.

It’s about a writer who happens upon a filling station and restaurant in Black Mesa. He has “a vague idea I’d like to see the Pacific Ocean – or perhaps drown in it.” There’s an old man who knew Sam Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and who was shot at by Billy the Kid – the only person Billy ever missed. This lonely writer falls in love with a girl who serves him BBQ and who wants to be a painter and travel to Paris. While he’s waiting for his lunch, she reads from a book of Francois Villon poetry her mother sent her from Paris. Villon was reputedly a rogue, a devil-may-care poet, who ultimately escaped the hangman’s noose and fled Paris in exile, and so Leslie Howard’s character seems to be somewhat reminiscent of Villon himself.

The following is a “Ballad Written for a Bridegroom”, by Francois Villon, for which he apparently gave to a gentleman who was newly married to send to his wife whom he had won with the sword. Part of this poem was read and certainly had meaning in the movie. (Translated by Algernon Charles Swinburne, English poet & critic)

AT daybreak, when the falcon claps his wings,
No whit for grief, but noble heart and high
With loud glad noise he stirs himself and springs,
And takes his meat and toward his lure draws nigh;
Such good I wish you ! Yea, and heartily
I am fired with hope of true love’s meed to get;
Know that Love writes it in his book; for why,
This is the end for which we twain are met.

Mine own heart’s lady with no gainsayings
You shall be always wholly till I die;
And in my right against all bitter things
Sweet laurel with fresh rose its force shall try;
Seeing reason wills not that I cast love by
(Nor here with reason shall I chide or fret)
Nor cease to serve, but serve more constantly;
This is the end for which we twain are met.

And, which is more, when grief about me clings
Through Fortune’s fit or fume of jealousy,
Your sweet kind eye beats down her threatenings
As wind doth smoke ; such power sits in your eye.
Thus in your field my seed of harvestry
Thrives, for the fruit is like me that I set;
God bids me tend it with good husbandry;
This is the end for which we twain are met.

Princess, give ear to this my summary;
That heart of mine your heart’s love should forget,
Shall never be: like trust in you put I:
This is the end for which we twain are met.