Friday, November 18, 2022

Fantômes de Versailles


Fantômes de Versailles
(a 55) 
 Ghosts go hungry
at Versailles. 'Let them
eat cake,' the custodian mumbles.
Marie-Antoinette tries to bake
but flour falls through her fingers
dust to milky dust.

Marie starts the minuet.
Diamonds drop off the
Shepherdess like old flesh.
'Les riches, she murmurs,
are not quitters.'

In the Labyrinthe,
fables dehydrate.
The custodian
watches World Cup.

November 2022

a little historical nonsense
 posted for
Notes: Marie-Antoinette and her waiting women often dressed as Shepherdesses and played at being country peasants in the elaborate gardens of Versailles. 
Regarding the Labryrinthe, or Bosquet de la Reine at Versailles: 
"In 1665, André Le Nôtre planned a hedge maze of unadorned paths in an area south of the Latona Fountain near the Orangerie.. In 1669, Charles Perrault – author of the Mother Goose Tales – advised Louis XIV to remodel the Labyrinthe in such a way as to serve the Dauphin's education..Le Nôtre redesigned the Labyrinthe to feature thirty-nine fountains that depicted stories from Aesop's Fables..accompanied by a plaque on which the fable was verse..; from these plaques, Louis XIV's son learned to read..[C]ompleted in 1677, the Labyrinthe contained thirty-nine fountains with 333 painted metal animal sculptures. The water for the elaborate waterworks was conveyed from the Seine..[and used by].. fourteen water-wheels driving 253 pumps.. Citing repair and maintenance costs, Louis XVI ordered the Labyrinthe demolished in 1778. In its place, an arboretum of exotic trees was planted as an English-styled garden. Rechristened Bosquet de la Reine, it would be in this part of the garden that an episode of the Affair of the Diamond Necklace, which compromised Marie-Antoinette, transpired in 1785..."~wikipedia
France is defending champion for the 2022 World Cup. 
Images:  L'Entrée du bosquet du Labyrinthe, © Jean Cotelle le Jeune (1642-1708) Public Domain
Marie-Antoinette Queen of France 1775 ©Jean Baptiste Gautier Dagoty


  1. I love the flour falling through her fingers, but it is that ending that absolutely made this, for me. As always, I read your tags and notes beforehand, and it seems so sad that Louis XVI demolished the labyrinth with its plaques and depicted scenes. In any event, all of these Royal amusements fade and turn to dust and the custodian is concerned only with his football. C'est vrais et c'est la vie, n'est ce pas? All the idle pastimes of both rich and poor will pass and fall through their fingers in the end. Finally, I love it when you honor the G Man by writing a 55, and to write one for the List is doubly pleasing. :-)

    1. Thanks, Shay. I prefer eating the rich to watching them eat cake and build fountains that cost the GDP of a small country to maintain while real shepherds and shepherdesses starve, but it's true there is a sadness to see all the beauties in frivolous way of life dry up(in this case to be replaced with rapacious anarchy and bloodshed.) At least *les riches* gave plumbers, sculptors and poets a lot of work. ;)

  2. Reading each stanza was like wandering thru three different rooms in Versailles. Each different, yet beautifully connected.

    1. Thanks, Helen. I'm sure many ghosts walk there, too.

  3. "Ghosts go hungry at Versailles" - what a FANTASTIC opening line, a great hook. I love the flour falling "dust to milky dust". An entire historical fable in 55. Wonderful!

    1. Thanks, Sherry. Some would say going hungry is only fitting in this case.

  4. To think of the nobility play-acting as peasants boggles the mind, especially as the peasants starve. That first stanza grabbed and didn't let go, Joy, each gesture, each mood, each image of excess divorced from sanity all end with the sound of the crowd's roar at the World's Cup. Surreal. Absolutely blown away by this: "Diamonds drop off the/Shepherdess like old flesh." Ah yes. Death is ever at the door of rich and poor alike.

    1. Thank you, Dora. Your own poem was one of the most poignant I've read in a long time.

  5. This is so clever, Joy. I love how you describe this "charmed" life that the ultra-rich used to lead, the vacuous nature of it, when hedonism has run its course and everyone sits there afterward, bored and sated, not knowing what else to do, not having enough soul to feel deeply about anything. That's the vibe I got from it anyway.

    I actually went to the palace in Versailles many years ago and walked through the labyrinthian gardens. Both are so unreasonably big it made no sense to me. Still, it's all very beautiful even if it has no soul :-D

    Love the image you paint in the first stanza especially :-)

  6. Loving the hungry ghosts. Let them eat brioche, anyway. Worth a trip to Wikipedia that if you haven't already. Perfect ending with the World Cup. Allez les Bleus!


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

Comment Moderation Has Been Enabled