Sunday, March 30, 2014

Marie de Medici, Arthur Rimbaud, and Les Filles du Calvaire

On our way from the Hotel de Ville to the Luxembourg Gardens a couple of weeks ago, we passed by some familiar sights and also saw some things for the first time. We walked across the parvis of the Hotel de Ville from the metro, and then across the bridges over the Seine to the Ile de la Cite and to the Left Bank, stopping at Le Depart de St. Michel as we always do, this time for a couple of cafe cremes. After enjoying some people watching on that busy corner, we started down Blvd. St. Michel.

We took a little jaunt off St. Michel to the Place St. Andre des Arts and then headed down Rue Danton to Blvd. St. Germain, pausing to notice the statue of Danton proclaiming "Il nous faut de l'audace, encore de l'audace, toujours de l'audace!

A left turn on Rue de Seine/Rue de Tournon gave us an opportunity for some window shopping: shoes and books:

Finally reaching Rue de Vaugirard, we ducked into the Jardins du Luxembourg on our way to lunch at a cafe we've been to before, and visited the Medici fountains, with bronze Polyphemous discovering marble Acis and Galatea:

After lunch, we returned to Rue Vaugirard. Walking toward the Musee du Luxembourg, we saw the entrance to the Convent of the Filles du Calvaire, the congregation founded by by Antoinette of Orléans-Longueville in 1617 in Poitiers. This convent was built in 1625, and Marie de Medici's initials and face are featured prominately on the door and above the entrance:

Les Filles du Calvaire, according to the Catholic Encyclopedia, were founded for more strict observance of the Benedictine Rule after Antoinette had worked to reform the famous Abbey of Fontevrault. This famous double monastery was the site of the graves of Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I and other English royalty--but their bodies were desecrated during the French Revolution when the monasteries--like the convent at the Palais du Luxembourg--were suppressed in 1792.

After we toured the Josephine exhibit at the Musee du Luxembourg--and that was a very appropriate venue for the exhibit because she was held in the Palais du Luxembourg while it served as a prison during the French Revolution--we decided to ride a taxi back to Hotel de Ville for an easier trip back to the apartment. On the way to the taxi stand in front of St. Sulpice, we saw this poem of Arthur Rimbaud, "The Drunken Boat"/"Le Bateau Ivre" drawn on the wall along Rue Ferou:

I who trembled, to feel at fifty leagues' distance
The groans of Behemoth's rutting, and of the dense Maelstroms
Eternal spinner of blue immobilities
I long for Europe with it's aged old parapets!

I have seen archipelagos of stars! and islands
Whose delirious skies are open to sailor:
- Do you sleep, are you exiled in those bottomless nights,
Million golden birds, O Life Force of the future? -

But, truly, I have wept too much! The Dawns are heartbreaking.
Every moon is atrocious and every sun bitter:
Sharp love has swollen me up with heady langours.
O let my keel split! O let me sink to the bottom!

If there is one water in Europe I want, it is the
Black cold pool where into the scented twilight
A child squatting full of sadness, launches
A boat as fragile as a butterfly in May.

I can no more, bathed in your langours, O waves,
Sail in the wake of the carriers of cottons,
Nor undergo the pride of the flags and pennants,
Nor pull past the horrible eyes of the hulks.

It is amazing how much beauty and history we find on any walk in Paris: I guess that's why we keep going back! All photos (C) Mark U. Mann, 2014.

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