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



  1. ManicDdaily · July 14, 2012

    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.


  2. claudia · July 14, 2012

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


  3. Ina · July 14, 2012

    🙂 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 🙂


  4. brian miller · July 14, 2012

    nice…love that you can find hte affection in the eyes….this def has an epic feel to it as well….the stuff movies are made of…smiles..


  5. Laurie Kolp · July 14, 2012

    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.


  6. Mary · July 14, 2012

    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.


  7. Mark Kerstetter · July 14, 2012

    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?


  8. Your words are so very beautiful through out your poem along with their passion made a wonderful post that i enjoyed very much!


  9. Emma · July 15, 2012

    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.


  10. The french are often paired with love…a love beyond words…


  11. jcosmonewbery · July 15, 2012

    Beautifully and sensitively written.


  12. lucychili · July 15, 2012

    conflict and love, colour


  13. danadampier · July 15, 2012

    I like where this prompt and poem took you!


  14. David King · July 15, 2012

    Clever this, and done with great sensitivity. Bravo!


  15. Lydia · July 15, 2012

    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.


  16. dfb · July 15, 2012

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


  17. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thanks very much Claudia!


  18. dfb · July 15, 2012

    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.


  19. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thank you Brian!!!


  20. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thank you Laurie!


  21. dfb · July 15, 2012

    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!)


  22. dfb · July 15, 2012

    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??? 😉


  23. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thank you again Wendell!


  24. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thank you so much Emma – I need to catch up on your work now.


  25. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thanks very much David!


  26. dfb · July 15, 2012

    Thank you Lydia – you are very kind!


  27. hiroshimem · July 15, 2012

    Original point of view! And I especially like the ending, without period. That gives space for an ongoing relationship…


  28. Chazinator · July 15, 2012

    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!


  29. Victoria C. Slotto · July 15, 2012

    You delve right into history and culture…almost the essence, I would say, of the personality of place. Nicely done, David.


  30. Christy Birmingham · July 15, 2012

    What an enchanting poem! From the map to the history books…


  31. Madeleine Begun Kane · July 16, 2012

    Wonderful. Well done!


  32. Francina · July 16, 2012

    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


    Ciao, Francina


  33. Anna Montgomery · July 17, 2012

    A wonderful tribute and trip through history. I enjoyed this tres, tres bien!


  34. mattspotentialpoetry · July 18, 2012

    Really dug the groovy vibe of this poem, brother. Peace.


  35. Louise Jaques · July 23, 2012

    I was utterly captivated from the first line, which is the piece’s best. You continue to amaze David!


  36. bardessdmdenton · July 23, 2012

    I love this poem for its intelligence and lyrical images!


  37. dfb · July 25, 2012

    Thank you Louise!! Hope you’re ok.


  38. Thomas Davis · July 29, 2012

    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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