Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

poem- magique April 12, 2015

Today’s prompt from napowrimo.net:

Describe in great detail your favorite room, place, meal, day, or person. You can do this in paragraph form.

Now cut unnecessary words like articles and determiners (a, the, that) and anything that isn’t really necessary for content; leave mainly nouns, verbs, a few adjectives.

Cut the lines where you see fit and, VOILA! A poem!

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I wrote about a magical place.  Here’s the version edited as per instructions:

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Through arch

through time

long-abandoned château 

what were windows,

looking down

Rivière de Sorgue bubbles

twists

Musée de Petrarque stands stately

garden

poplars.

We walk

ancient path

limestone cliffs,

tiny secluded valley

the pool where

river is birthed

A hole I could hold in my hands.

Feel magic:

the poet still walks.

Fontaine de Vaucluse

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Here is this beautiful place, a site of a novel (theoretically in progress, though actually resting, like dough) from our visit in 2011.  I dream of returning there to stay and work on this project when the trees are all leafed.   The arch is behind the Musee, a modern-ish town is directly behind the limestone wall/cliff.  I’m standing on the path to the fontaine (the river source).  There is another photo from this walk on the cover of my poetry chapbook 2011.

Fontaine de Vaucluse Sorgue River Chateau above Musee de Petrarque on right.

Fontaine de Vaucluse
Sorgue River
Chateau above
Musee de Petrarque on right.

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Here is the first version (I couldn’t do it in a paragraph form, despite myself!)  I think it could make a fine poem itself:

Through the arch and back through time

the long-abandoned château des Evêques de Cavaillon, XIV

rocks crumbling from what were windows, vacant eyes looking down to where

The Sorgue bubbles by, twisting this way, then that.

Musée de Petrarque stands stately amid garden and tall stretched poplars.

We walk along the ancient path beneath the limestone cliffs,

This tiny secluded valley, until we reach the pool where the river is birthed

from a hole I could hold in my hands.

You can feel the magic here; the poet still walks at

Fontaine de Vaucluse

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Which version do you prefer?  The ‘brevity is an art’ version or the ‘extended version’?

I expect WordPress to link to a complete blog post about our visit to Fontaine de Vaucluse below (entitled Magic Fontaine); you may be interested in reading that post, as well.  

Teacher moment: Do you know who Francesco Petrarch/Petrarque/Petrarca is?    He was the father of humanism.  He coined the term “The Dark Ages.”  He traveled around Europe rescuing ancient Greek and Roman texts; at his death, he had the largest library in Christendom. He is called ‘the first tourist.’  He was a philosopher and scholar.  Most of those things are forgotten.  He is best remembered because he invented the sonnet form (specifically The Petrarchan aka Italian sonnet).  For 50 years he wrote these 14 lined poems to/about Laure/Laura (deNoves) de Sade, a married woman who died, likely of bubonic plague, in 1348.  He met her the first time April 6, 1327 in Avignon at Ste Claire Convent and his adoring sonnets in praise of her remain with us today. They are called Canzoniere. (Somewhere on this blog you’ll find one-#61- that I’ve translated from the Italian, likely also linked below). He was a man who knew he was making contributions to history.  He expected to be remembered.  I have a little crush on him, as in my Grace Awakening series, the musical young man, Ben, was Petrarch in a past life…)

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Magic Fontaine April 24, 2011

Last year after my husband and I spent a couple of weeks touring Italy, people would ask us what place we enjoyed the most, and we were unable to answer. Venice was, well, Venice: beautiful, spectacular, sad, interesting. We’d go back to explore more of her rabbit warrens in an instant. Cinque Terre, the five Mediterranean Sea coast towns, were picturesque, delightful and soothing. Rome was amazing for a hundred different reasons, and special because my fourth Finnish host family joined us there. Pompeii answered a childhood wish. Geneva (okay- that was a side-trip to Switzerland) was lovely, organized, expensive, and fascinating. Each was so different that there was no way to choose between them. Each was completely special in its own way.

P1010097

The Petrarch Museum in the white building on the right is believed to be on the site of Petrarch’s house.

This year I found myself talking about one place whenever anyone asked us about our trip to France. Sure, Nice was nice. Yes, Avignon was intriguing. Paris was bustling and full of things to see. The star of our visit was a small village that most people have never heard of.

Somewhere around 1310 Francesco Petrarca, his father and his brother made a visit to the source of the Sorgue River. It had been known for centuries as a miracle of nature. There was a hole at the bottom of a limestone cliff, a still pool, and then a raging river. Greeks and Romans had come to marvel at it in their time.  Petrarca was a boy, but he declared that this was a place he wanted to live. Some twenty years later, he bought property and spent fifteen contented years off and on living in his house on the banks of the Sorgue, trying to forget Laure, writing, and tending his books and his gardens: one at his house and another by the still pool of the spring at Fontaine de Vaucluse.

There is a magic in this place. The incongruity of the stillness and the noise. The contrast of the white cliffs and greenery. The fortress on the top of the hill that was in ruins even in Petrarca’s time. The sound of the newly born river which seems to burrow into your head and erase all hurry. The meditative nature of the place.

I could never have described it from the photographs. This is one place that one has to visit to fully appreciate. I wish I’d had more time to just soak in the atmosphere of the place.

At the Petrarch Museum, located on the site of his house, I found a comment he’d made that in the past, people had come to Fontaine de Vaucluse to see the miracle of the spring, but in the future, they’d come because he had lived there. I pointed out to my husband the enormous conceit of a man to make such an assertion. He just smirked and said, “We’re here, aren’t we?”

And so we were. If Francesco Petrarca had not been writing about Fontaine de Vaucluse in the 14th century, I would never have known about it and I would never have sought the experience. I would never have found myself sitting by the river bank as the sound of the Sorgue carried me back seven centuries. He was pompous, but he was right.  His words are entwined in the magic of the place.

 

 
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