Jean Cocteau and Versailles


There is so much great poetry written about Chateau Versailles, but to make me translate it, I have to have no choice…, here is Jean Cocteau….

The moon is the sun of the statues, did you know that the statues are nocturnal? They don’t sleep, they listen carefully for a password to open a view, a point of observation; they obey no other geometry or ruler but their king.

Once there was a swamp. And there were some architects and gardeners…, and there were lines and angles, and triangles, and rectangles, and circles and pyramids. And then there was a park haunted by the soul of Le Notre.

Then there was a view, and with the view arrived proportion and scale, and turned it all into a giant map. And every step you took could change this map as if what you saw were always manipulated by a magician.

And then some marble was brought in. The marble was pink with hot pink veins running through it. And out of this marble they built a palace where a shepherdess could marry the king.

And if there were clouds above the palace, it meant that the king was feeling moody; and as the clouds dispersed, we knew that the king was thinking of throwing a party… to show himself in all glory, arriving, like deus ex machina, in one of those ingenuous contraptions, an actor and the director of the show.

Listen to these fountains. Listen closely, as they are about to whisper the story of the strangest kingdom, so strange, stranger even than the kingdom of flowers and insects that you know.

Prince of the lightest movements, do you still dance your minuets, your heavenly minuets in the Kingdom of the Dead? Do your red hills still take those dancing steps across that kingdom?

Have you heard of us? Do they tell you anything about what is going on here? Or is all this noise muffled under the heavy wig of eternity?

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This entry was posted in Chateau Versailles, Chateau Versailles In Literature, Jean Cocteau, Louis XIV. Bookmark the permalink.

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