THE CAMARGUE

“Not a growing thing
Save stunted tamarisk.

* * * * *

Salt-wort, sea poppy”

Sometimes a lonely sea-mew breaks the monotony of the sky, or, some
huge-winged bird, the “stalking hermit of the lagoon,” casts a flitting
shadow.

“One vast desert …
The sole confine some distant glare of sea.”

In summer there are no flowers in this forsaken region, only the white
inflorescence of salt crystals–frozen tears of generations of vanished
peoples one might fancy them. And, as if in mockery, a mirage, born
of those bitter tears, hovers on the horizon as the hot sun breeds an
invisible vapour from which arise distant cities and a labyrinth of
smooth lagoons that shimmer alluringly across the white solitude.

Such is the Camargue. The description, however, applies in strictness to
the summer season. In winter the salt with which the ground is saturated
is not visible; there is only a moist oozy-looking soil, growing reeds
and stunted bushes.

[Illustration: PORCH OF CHURCH OF ST. GILLES IN THE CAMARGUE.
_By E. M. Synge._]

Mistral’s heroine, _Mirèio_, who dies in the Camargue at the Church of
Les Saintes Maries, falls down exhausted before she arrives there, by
the shores of the great lake of the Camargue and is awakened by the
stinging of the dangerous gnats which infest the whole region in the
hot season, and perhaps account for the malaria which lies in wait for
the careless traveller.

The driver of the carriage in which we traversed this river-encircled
district, told us that in summer the water in these branches of the Rhone
fell so low that the fish died in immense quantities, and this attracted
great swarms of flies whose sting became very perilous in consequence
of their gruesome banquet.

This deserted region is a near neighbour of the Crau, separated only
by the river at the southern end from the Field of Pebbles; yet in all
the Camargue, as the natives say, you cannot find a stone to throw at
a dog–a mode of expression betraying the sentiment of the country as
regards our four-footed friends and brothers.

Our journey was from Aigues Mortes to Les Saintes Maries, a drive across
the Camargue of about 36 kilometres–36 kilometres of strange, silent,
mournful country, well-nigh desert, for the salt in the soil prevents
cultivation and all growth is stunted and wild and of little use except
here and there for grazing purposes. From time immemorial it has been
the home of herds of black cattle, “wild cattle” they are generally
called, and in all the poems and accounts of the district, one finds
highly-coloured descriptions of the driving of these ferocious creatures
to pasture and of the exciting barbaric ceremony of branding them in the
spring. They are always spoken of as being extremely formidable, and their
appearance in great hordes, fierce and untamed, their dashing owners in
pursuit on splendid steeds, is described with charming picturesqueness.

Our driver kept a keen look-out for these creatures as we made our way
across the plain. At last, just as we were in despair of seeing them, he
pointed out their hoof-marks where they come down to the water to drink.
It was a thrilling moment, and we scanned the distance with eagerness,
listening for the thunder of galloping feet. Suddenly the driver pulled
up and gave an exclamation.

“Les Voilà!”

Alas! a disillusion, the first we had met with in Provence.

A little way off, in quite domestic tranquillity, were some twenty or
thirty amiable, decorous-looking black beasts who had presumably never
“thundered” or dreamt of it in all their well-spent lives. Day after day,
from byre to pasture and from pasture to byre, at no time even in their
giddiest calfdom had they given their guardian–who was now superintending
their repast–a moment’s uneasiness! Fiery, untamed cattle, at any rate
in the winter season, are not to be seen on the Camargue.

The red flamingoes, too, are really pink, and very pale at that; but
it is beautiful to see them flying in great flocks over the lake of the
Vaccares, and settling to feed or to exchange ideas on some wild islet on
whose low shores beat white-capped fussy little waves which the smallest
mistral quickly raises on its shallow water.

We visited this lake from Arles on another occasion, for the Camargue is
too big to see all at one time. Even as it was, our day was crowded–to
Aigues Mortes in the morning across the plain, visiting Les Saintes
Maries, and back to Arles in the evening.

[Illustration: AIGUES MORTES, LOOKING ALONG THE WALLS.
_By E. M. Synge._]

After Carcassonne one felt there was nothing more to experience in the
shape of a mediæval city. Yet Aigues Mortes–the city of St. Louis, the
City of the Marsh, with its wonderful ramparts and square towers, all
unchanged since the days of the Crusaders–brought before the eye of the
imagination yet another aspect of the fascination of the Middle Ages.
The walls are said to be built on the models of the fortified towns of
Syria and to be almost a repetition of those of Ascalon. Here, as in
many mediæval cities, were originally wooden balconies overhanging the
base of the walls, the battlements being in fact a wall with ingress at
intervals to the balcony. Later was substituted for the wooden balcony
projecting galleries of stone on corbels, and these stone galleries or
machicolations are comparatively recent.

To this scene belongs, among other historical events, the splendid
procession of St. Louis and his followers as they embarked from this
city of his founding for the first crusade.

The place is called Aigues Mortes from the dead branches of the river,[31]
and its situation in this low-lying ground near the sea, with the whole
Camargue lying flat and mournful before it, bears out the suggestion of
the strange melancholy name.

Ancient writers of romance are fond of talking about the “frowning walls”
of a city. On looking back at Aigues Mortes as one recedes from it across
the Camargue one admits their justification. The dark high ramparts,
with their stern-looking square towers–unlike the round extinguisher
towers of Carcassonne–do most undeniably “frown.”[32]

The city with its great gateway seems not to belong to our present life at
all, in spite of its hotels and shops and the people in the market-place.
It is as if a fragment of the tenth or eleventh century had been dropped
by some accident when the Scroll of Time was being rolled up!

The illusion is almost painfully perfect, producing that curious
bewilderment with which we provincial mortals (by no means yet citizens
of the universe) are assailed when forced to realise–as well as
intellectually to accept–the fact of a state of existence absolutely
alien to our own experience.

Another delightful expedition in the Camargue is to the Church of St.
Gilles on the outskirts of this extraordinary desert through which the
main line runs at this point; and many of the trains stop at the little
station only a short distance westward from Arles. By a singular chance
the curé happened to be in the train on his way to Nimes, to read a
paper about the many vexed archæological questions regarding this famous
and exquisite church, this “ne plus ultra of Byzantine art,” as Mèrimée
calls it; and he was much delighted to talk about the building of which
he is immensely proud.

Such a Church for beauty and interest had never before existed! These
were the sentiments of the good curé, a rosy-cheeked, comfortable,
courteous old antiquary. It certainly merits his enthusiasm.

The three great richly sculptured arches of the façade are magnificent
of their kind. It seems as if all the saints and angels of Christendom
had alighted in a swarm upon these sumptuous portals. They cluster on
frieze and cornice, on arch and bracket and niche, in multitudes, the
whole work perfectly balanced and finely executed, and resulting in
an effect of romantic richness combined with the pious simplicity of
sentiment which is characteristic of all Southern Romanesque churches.
The crypt is especially magnificent.

[Illustration: THE CHURCH OF LES SAINTES MARIES SEEN FROM THE CAMARGUE.
_By Joseph Pennell._]

But the church of which one hears the most in Provence is “Les Saintes
Maries,” or “Santa Maria de la Mar,” as it was sometimes called in the
twelfth century. It is another of the fortified churches of the littoral,
a sister to Maguelonne and still more famous. At one end of our long day’s
journey stood Aigues Mortes, at the other Les Saintes Maries. The little
white speck above the level of the plain on the far horizon, which can
be discerned when about ten miles from Aigues Mortes, grows bigger and
bigger, till at last the strange, rude, characteristic outline of the
lonely church by the sea fascinates and holds the eye till one reaches
it after the 36 kilometres of desert.

The shrine of the three holy women is visited every year by hundreds of
pilgrims, and many a sick person is cured by the power of the relics,
say the curé and the Catholic Church–by the not less astonishing potency
of the “unconscious mind” assert the more advanced of the modern schools
of mental science.

The curé said that he had seen several hundred cures. Many paralytics
and those who had been bitten by mad dogs came on this pilgrimage, and
he had known only two cases of failure. The bones of Mary, mother of
Jacob, and of her daughter, Mary Salomé, with those of their servant
Sara, are all preserved in a richly painted reliquary, which is let down
among the people from its shrine above the tribune. This is the moment
of salvation, and hundreds of arms are stretched imploringly towards
it, and hundreds of voices are raised in supplication; and judging by
the many well-authenticated accounts some mysterious healing power is
actually set in motion.

Anything more forlorn than the little village that has grown up around
the church is difficult to imagine. There is not a soul stirring, and
scarcely a sound is to be heard indicating human life. The Camargue
stretches to westward. The sea beats on the sandy beach a little way
beyond the village square. One hears the waves quietly running in upon
the shore. In the middle of the square stands an ancient carved stone
cross. The people of the place have the reputation of being rude and
almost savage, and their ignorance is said to be incredible.

[Illustration: CROSS IN VILLAGE SQUARE AT LES SAINTES MARIES.
_By E. M. Synge._]

The exterior of Les Saintes Maries is rude, warlike, even sterner in
aspect than Maguelonne, and it stands bare and solitary on this desert
spot with not a tree or a green thing near it; only the spectral, thinly
clad, unearthly looking trees of the Camargue dimly in sight here and
there in the grey distance.

The door of the church was open, and we entered. Again, as in Maguelonne,
great arches and apses, sombre, religious, primitive, the candles and
artificial flowers with which the altars were decked for Christmas
standing out pathetically against the gloom.

In one of the side chapels the curé was busy painting the background of
a _crèche_. He was occupied with the Star in the East when we arrived,
and was so absorbed that he did not hear our footsteps. When we came
nearer he turned and descended from the ladder on which he had mounted,
explaining that he had been appointed to the cure only a few months
and found to his dismay that the benighted inhabitants had never in all
their lives had a _crèche_ at Christmas! So he was busying himself to
redeem them from this state of spiritual darkness. The palm-trees and
_la sainte vierge_ were expected to-morrow from Nimes. _Le Christ_ had
already arrived.

The curé went forward to give a touch to the manger as he spoke.

“Vous voyez les vaches–qu’elles sont jolies!” He stood back to
contemplate them. The boy who had conducted us to the church remained
gazing in dumb admiration, and though he was peremptorily sent on a
message by the curé, he returned almost at once to gaze anew, which
brought down on him an impatient reproof.

“Va t’en, va t’en; qu’est-ce que tu fais la avec ta bouche grand-ouverte;
sauve toi donc!”

And poor Jules had to shut his mouth and tear himself away from the
alluring scene.

[Illustration: LES SAINTES MARIES.
_By E. M. Synge._]

We visited the tomb of Sara and saw the sacred reliquary containing the
bones of the saints, which were saved from peril at the time of the great
Revolution by the faithful curé of that day, who took out the precious
relics from the chests, leaving in their place some ordinary bones and
hiding the real ones, which were afterwards replaced with great pomp
when the danger was over.

The roof is formed of stone slabs, the same as that of Maguelonne, and
the view from it is as extensive but far more solitary.

“La mer indéfinie, l’éternelle limite blanche à l’horizon, et la lande,
toujours, aux salicornes basses et aux tamaris clairsemés. C’est une
heure exquise de mélancholie, de pieux idéal … l’immense arène jaune
bordeé par la mer bleu et l’horizon de sable; les lagunes nageés dans
une brume lumineuse d’ou rien ne surgit que vers le nord-est, le pic
Saint Loup, comme une fantôme.”

* * * * *

We left this lonely church with the twilight falling upon it, and the
evening silence. In the village square little whirls of loose sand were
coming up from the beach with the gusts of wind, harbingers of a coming
mistral, and one could hear always in the strange quiet, the beat and
retreat of the waves.

“Baseness rusts, wears out and seals up young-heartedness.”

RAIMBAUT D’AURENGA.

It is doubtful if there is a country in Europe where the spirit of the
past is so strong as it is in Provence.

One needs not to dive down for it below the surface; it lives before
one’s eyes everywhere, every day. That strange cheer and blitheness
that seems to belong to the centuries gone by has not yet been beaten
down by the care and heaviness of modern life. The mere act of living is
still joyful, the zest and charm of simple things still survives among
the people. They live without hurry, yet they work to good purpose; far
more quickly and efficiently than in England.

They seem to work hard, yet without toil; no doubt because they know
also how to play.

This has all to be said with reservations, however, for the modern spirit
is stealing into the country; it is like the little edge of the earth’s
shadow when the moon begins to be eclipsed. But the old is still dominant
and will not easily be destroyed.

It is not merely the world of yesterday, of the Middle Ages that lingers,
but–as we have seen–the world of the ancients. That is half the secret
of the country.

It is this element that underlies and mingles so quaintly with the
picturesque side of religious mediævalism. No wonder men and women have
passionately tried to recover the charm of that old, fresh, lost world.
Perhaps that is why the Renaissance is so endlessly fascinating. It was
a wild, brilliant, vain attempt to find happiness and the real goal of
human life.

Men may indeed be turned from their natural quest by some harsh faith
or blinding habit, but the hunger of the heart never leaves them.

One is constrained to believe in the possibility of a fresh Renaissance
that will bring us further on our way towards the gates of Paradise,
for have we not learnt since that earlier attempt, that happiness must
be built on happiness, not on sacrifice and burnt offerings? This at
least is certain: human cruelty leads to human woe. The misery and the
cruelty below the glitter of a brilliant civilisation gnaws like some
evil creature at its heart.

_There_ was the flaw in that splendid claim on life made by the men and
women of the Renaissance. Each age brings its contributions and commits
its errors. But it is stupid to go on committing the old errors over
and over again.

Maulde de la Clavière describes the attitude of the women during all these
times of movement, which is very curious, very subtle, and very modern.
“Properly to understand their spiritual condition,” he says, “we should
have to do as they did: solve the problem of feminism in the feminine
way; be women, and more than women–arch-women. It was the conviction of
all the sons of the Renaissance,” he goes on, “that sentiment has higher
lights than reason, and that certain intuitions of the heart unfold to
us, as in bygone days to Socrates, horizons hitherto beyond our ken–a
foretaste of the divine…. And now the new generations were no longer
willing to regard earthly happiness as an illusion, … and flattered
themselves on finding a means of building life upon liberty…. People
wished to live henceforth under a calm and radiant sky; they talked of
taking the gifts of God as they found them, idealising everything. From
that time it belongs truly to women to govern the higher world, the
realm of sentiment…. So many noble things lack the sap of life! They
will give that sap, that vitality, that soul. The sap of love brings
grapes from thorns. And thereby the transformation of the world is to
be achieved.”

In short, women were to take life into their hands and turn it into a
fine art. They were to become priestesses in the Temple of the World, and
the object of worship was to be the Beautiful. They were to become the
creators of no less a thing than happiness. Our author quotes Ruskin’s
saying about a woman that “the violets should not droop when she passes,
but burst into flower.”

“Love is the sum of genius,” the writer further quotes from
Schiller, _apropos_ of this astonishing outbreak of romantic
thought. “The formula,” he says, “is this: to live, that is,
to love life, to attain a mastery of life, without allowing
it to crush or dominate us…. In those days they sincerely
studied to love life; they loved it, rejecting all negations
and obstructions, all that overwhelms and paralyses….”

To treat existence–as some tried to treat it in the sixteenth century
in Italy–from the point of view of the artist, must at least bring rich
fruits–though it depends perilously upon the artist!

It was to the newly liberated women of the chivalrous age that all
instinctively turned for the realisation of the universal longing. It
was for them to add some treasure to the world that they had so lately
entered. And more was done than perhaps we shall ever realise to make
life liveable and human by the women of the troubadour days and their
successors of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.

Unhappily they lived too near to barbaric times, with the blood of
mediæval savages still running in their veins, to be able to understand
one essential ingredient in the magic philtre that they sought so eagerly.

They could not follow the counsel of their historian, who says “the woman
must steep her hands in beauty, fill her eyes with love, and then look
at things courageously and truthfully.”[33] They followed and worshipped
Beauty, but they terribly sinned against Love.

“The first duty of woman,” the author says, “is to exhibit in themselves
every lovable quality.”

“Oh! is that all?” asked Barbara, with genial sarcasm.

“They overlaid life,” he adds, “with that varnish of wonderful singular
sweetness which has never been wholly rubbed off.”

Barbara listened in silence, whilst I read on.

“Love, and go straight on your way–that is the new formula–a very
effective one, since it converts dogmas into sentiments.” Again this
definition: “The kingdom of God–that is a state in which every one’s
actions would be prompted by love.”

“It sounds nice,” said Barbara, with a sceptical note in her voice.

“All the possible definitions of beauty apply also to life; life and
beauty are one and the same thing.”

Barbara demurred at this.

But, after all, the somewhat grim-looking family which she adduced as
refutation were really not exactly alive in any serious sense of the
word. Truly living people are _always_ in some way beautiful. I left
her pondering this risky statement while I prudently hastened on.

Our gallant author seemed to see things after a fashion of his own. One
might, of course, summarily dismiss it as sentimentalism, but that would
be meaningless, for our whole life is founded on sentiment of one kind
and another. It is monstrous without it.

“He seems to think sentiment very important; more so than most men do,”
said Barbara, whose male relatives were mostly of a solid order.

A proverb, he points out, says that “one does not die of love: perhaps
not; but what we know with absolute certainty, what stares us everywhere
in the face in letters of fire and blood, is that one dies of the absence
of love.”

And it is always to women he looks for the founding of the gentler
dispensation. He really does seem to appreciate us! He declares that we
are one and all, without exception, “artists in happiness!”

“Oh! then he has never met Aunt Rebecca,” said Barbara conclusively.

* * * * *

Only a few more days in Provence were now before us, and we had worked
our way across country to the main line at Arles for the homeward journey.

It was a pleasure to find ourselves again in that strange flat country
of the Crau and the Camargue, with the grey city on its hill above the
Rhone.

We were wearied with the mad, sad doings of men and turned to the natural
features of the surrounding country for rest and relief. And they did
not fail us as far as interest was concerned. Only they, too, had their
dramas and their tragedies. Those strange solitudes had a wild and
stirring past; while the vast lagoons at the Rhone’s mouth have a long
story all to themselves.

Whole volumes have been written about their formation and the geological
romance of this brilliant coast. Once, as we have seen, the Mediterranean
washed the cliffs at Beaucaire and Nimes, and swept up to the base of
the Alpilles. The country, in truth, seems to have retained something
of the sea-song in its wide reminiscent spaces.

There were deluges and avalanches, and all sorts of exciting events
of mountain and river; the Rhone and the Durance playing the principal
parts in this melodrama of the elements. Those impulsive heroes carried
off vast masses of stone and rubble from the mountains and covered the
low-lying land with the “wreckage of the Alps.”

Then the secondary characters trooped along: the Herault, the Ley, and
other streams, and they helped to heap up great bars at the river’s
mouth, so that the monster could not find his way to the sea without
much uneasy wandering; and always as he wandered, murmuring angrily,
more and more mud and stones were deposited to heighten the bars. And so
with the passing of the centuries the great lagoons were formed so big
and blue that the unwary traveller nearing Arles may almost mistake them
for the Mediterranean. When at last the sea is found, there is another
flinging down of Alpine spoils, for the difference in the weight and
in the temperature of the salt and the river waters at their meeting,
causes the river to drop what it carries rapidly–perhaps in joy at this
final home-coming to the brightest of all seas.

Louis XIV., it appears, built miles and miles of dykes, and Adam de
Craponne accomplished wonders of engineering work, and has become one of
the heroes of Provençal history; but still the waters now and again come
down in floods and do terrible damage. Indeed engineers are beginning
to think that the system of dykes is a mistaken one, for by confining
the river within narrow limits, the force is enormously concentrated and
presses on the dykes, while there is always a tendency to raise the bed
by the deposits.

Consequently the danger is constantly increased by the very means they
have taken to avert it.

“C’est comme une grande passion. Le Rhone a toujours été audessus des
forces de l’homme.”

So must have thought the poor woman and her husband, guardians of the
shattered bridge of St. Bénézet at Avignon, for they told us that the
flood had risen to the second storey of their house. And this happened,
and was bound to happen at intervals, when the ice broke up in the
mountains. The Government might raise the dykes at vast expense till it
was tired; the river rose too. Better let it spread quietly over the land
and enrich it. But now the system was begun it could not be abandoned.
Very dangerous it would seem, a big river–or a big passion! And if ever
there was a big passion that river is possessed by it!

No dream too lovely, no joy too perfect to be within the scope of human
destiny while the spirit is held by the incantation of those waters.

All things are possible! That is the song of the Rhone.

It knows so much, this child of the mountains, born to all the secrets
of solitary places, and laden now with the sad, strange lore of its
journeyings by city and strand, by quiet lands where the plough traces
glistening furrows in the slant morning light, and the vines throw their
arms to the sun with all the grace and all the enchantment that made
men drunk in the old days when not one of them was afraid to be happy.

The race lived in communion with the things of the soil and the heavens,
so that their religion was an ecstatic sense of life and beauty; “that
tingling in the veins sympathetic with the yearning life of the earth,
which apparently in all times and places prompted some mode of wild
dancing.”

Of the Bacchanalia we still have the fury and the terror, hidden in dark
places, poisoning existence, but the splendour and the grace, the sweet
freshness of those wild festivals are banished from the earth. How much
of beauty they have given to the world only an artist or a poet here
and there understands.

“It is from this fantastic scene,” says one of the fraternity, “that
the beautiful wind-touched draperies, the rhythm, the heads suddenly
thrown back, of many a Pompeian wall-painting and sarcophagus frieze are
originally derived.” And the same eye sees in the figure of Dionysus
the “mystical and fiery spirit of the earth–the aroma of the green
world is retained in the fair human body.” “Sweet upon the mountains” is
the presence of the far-wandering god “who embodies all the voluptuous
abundance of Asia, its beating sun, its fair-towered cities.”

To see the sun shining through the classic vine-leaves in a southern
land, is to begin to understand the emotions of the people who gave birth
to the myth of Dionysus; and we may “think we see the green festoons of
the vine dropping quickly from foot-place to foot-place down the broken
hill-side in the spring.”

Some mirage of the ancient world comes to us with the picture. And
laughter–laughter, which was “an essential element of the earlier worship
of Dionysus,” seems to be shaking the tendrils in some half literal,
half symbolical fashion. The living curves, the little merry whirls and
spirals are full of it.

The vine and the graver ivy crowned the white brow of Dionysus, plants
dear to the Hamadryads, “spinning or weaving with airiest fingers, the
foliage of the trees, the petals of the flowers, the skins of the fruits,
the long thin stalks on which the poplar leaves are set so lightly that
Homer compares them, in their constant motion, to the maids who sit
spinning in the house of Alcinous.”

And by road and river are great growths of reeds, the plant of Dionysus
and the merry satyrs who make their pipes from the hollow stems.

It was surely this beautiful province of a beautiful land that inspired
the first conscious determined effort towards the art of living that
has been made by man since an evil fate had plunged him into the awful
martyrdom of the Middle Ages. The spirit that came into being at that
auspicious hour lingers like a presence. It is not due merely to bright
sky and clear air. There are skies as blue and air as clear in lands
where the very stones breathe forth tragedy. The Campagna of Rome is a
case in point, nor is the siren country about the Bay of Naples untouched
by this under-shadow.

Even here indeed, in Provence itself, the deep wound in the heart of
Life inflicted by mediæval superstition has never quite ceased to bleed,
and the country seems at moments to sadden and grow chill in the face
of the sun; but this is the tribute paid to the spiritual Cæsar of the
new Empire, and does not spring from the ancient genius of the country.

That genius presses upon the imagination, as if some hidden intelligence
were playing the part of generous host, and sending forth the parting
guest laden with gifts and valedictions.

These invisible hosts have no regard for any timid dread of enthusiasm
and faith. They boldly whisper of a new Creed and Cult, a Temple of
Happiness to be set up even in our own indignant land!

They are quite unabashed at the audacity of the proposition; at doubts
and limitations they laugh.

But the leave-taking traveller knows that he is under a spell, and asks
himself if these dreams of powers and destinies will live under grey
skies, grey creeds and customs.

Here it is easy to believe in exquisite audacities.

“Here a thousand hamlets laugh by the river-side, our skies laugh;
everything is happy, everything lives,” as the poet Jasmin sings of his
native land.

At once inspiring and restful! This perfect balance is possible. Supremely
good things may be in contrast but not in contradiction. So at least
one believes in Provence.

The parting guest thinks wistfully of that delicious journey down stream,
of the happy company in the _Caburle_, in Mistral’s Poem of the Rhone;
the old barge drifting with the current through the very heart of the
country of Romance. Every city and hamlet, every bridge and ruin, the
scene of a thousand stories….

He remembers with what an outburst the poet sings of the towers of
Avignon, as the barge comes in sight of the city, flame-tinted with the
setting sun:–

“e pinto
De resplendour reialo e purpurenco
Es Avignoun e lou Palais di Papo!
Avignoun! Avignoun sus sa grand Roco!
Avignoun, la galoio campaniero….”

(“et pient
De splendeur royale, de pourpre splendide
C’est–Avignon et le Palais des Papes,
Avignon sur sa Roque géante!
Avignon la sonneuse de la joie.”)

Always that word! Joie, joie! One meets it in story, in song, in the
voices of the people. Provence must certainly have been its birthplace–or
its sanctuary.

Driven from every other land, when the Goddess of Sorrow came to usurp
the temples of the ancient gods, reviled, feared, stricken to the heart,
the beautiful fugitive at last found shelter in the land of Love and
Chivalry.

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