Poem ‘A Tale of Love’

I first fell in love with you in a map,
a sort of pentagon, sacré, teased out
a touch like a stretched piece of dough. Then
it was the names, the easy non-phonetics
conjuring visions and colour through
Fontainebleau and Versailles. But then,
of course, it’s the history that defines me
and you, those first tragic lines etched
large, bold and bloody by le Bâtard, a family
dispute of a single culture cleaved
by hatred and greed, melded by chivalry.
For so long la Manche was not a divide
(and never la différence), more a conduit
of ideas flowing north, longbows sailing
south. Oh, we have divided since; your gift
for re-invention, dispensing with kings, that’s
something I cannot conceive, even though
we did have a go. But I only have to
look at Claude and Edouard, Paul
and Vincent, to get it, to understand— there’s
a love neither can openly express, though
look more closely, you will find it in our eyes

© copyright David F. Barker 2012

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38 thoughts on “Poem ‘A Tale of Love’

  1. You know there is definitely a kind of very close relationship that always suffers (benefits) from a certain divide – not just geographical – I mean a kind of crankiness even. Hard to describe but you’ve got it here – it doesn’t diminish the love. Well done. k.

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  2. nice…you touch quite some areas with your poem..culturally, historically and also the inclusion of the different artists..like it much

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  3. 🙂 Lovely David. France is a beautiful country. Vincent was Dutch of course, but he lived there in France. If I watch the tour, I always rather look at the castles and landscapes than at the skinny legs of the cyclists 🙂

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  4. Lovely… I especially like:

    Oh, we have divided since; your gift
    for re-invention, dispensing with kings, that’s
    something I cannot conceive, even though
    we did have a go.

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  5. Enjoyed this. The French have made many contributions in art and literature; and after reading your poem I am wondering if you have some French in YOU.

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  6. These lines caught my attention:

    “For so long la Manche was not a divide
    (and never la différence)….Oh, we have divided since; your gift
    for re-invention, dispensing with kings, that’s
    something I cannot conceive”

    That la différence is a major accomplishment and contribution of theirs. I wonder why you can’t conceive dispensing with kings – are you British?

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  7. There’s something very special about the combination of art and poetry. Both can have such a profound effect on us- usually one we can’t fully explain- much like love, I’d say. This is wonderful, David. Such a soft ebb and flow.

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  8. After reading your beautiful poem I clicked on your “About” section, which says something about the effect of your writing and art. It is mysterious and yet accessible. Quite wonderful indeed.

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  9. Thank you! Yes, it’s easy to forget that the English and French nation were both created in the same crucible of conflict.

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  10. Hi and thank you! Yes, Vincent was of course ‘one of your own’ and I’ve seen Vincent’s work in Amsterdam, so I nearly left him out of this poem but then, he is largely remembered for his last tragic years in France.

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  11. Thank you!!! Well, I have French in me to the extent all the English have a certain amount of ‘French’ blood stemming back nearly a thousand years, via the Normans (who were partly Scandinavian… but that’s another story!)

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  12. Hi Mark! Many thanks for your comments. Yes, I am British/English and, unlike most of my compatriots, I am not a fervent monarchist. I was trying to make the distinction between the USA, GB and France… I can perfectly understand America at its independence wanting a new, better constitution, and despite everything, I think you have it. France, like England, is an old country, yet the French did manage to ‘ditch’ and monarchy eventually, whereas we didn’t. despite trying from 1649-60. So, I am a little envious of the French, their capacity for reinvention, whereas we seem to be stuck in myths of the past. Having said all this, I am not entirely sure I would ultimately ‘ditch’ our own monarchy – what would we replace it with? A Presidency for old, failed politicians??? 😉

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  13. The French were our first comrades in arms against the dastardly English. It is so strange how history intervenes sometimesand obscured true friendship and love. I’m glad you haven’t forgotten. The artists always bring out the love!

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  14. great poem with memorable lines, David.

    For so long la Manche was not a divide
    (and never la différence), more a conduit
    of ideas flowing north, longbows sailing
    south.

    super!

    Ciao, Francina

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  15. Our son Kevin loved France. He took more photographs of Paris than any other subject. This poem brings out what he loved about the place. Therefore it has a strong emotional impact. The art, the history, perhaps even the dispensing with kings all appealed to him. This is a poem that has substance to it, David, at least for us. Thank you. Tom and Ethel.

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