Canto I

Damietta
The House in Which Saint Louis Was Imprisoned

Serious reflection, weighing it up, brings the certain
Realisation that there, behind that door,
The Saint-King was imprisoned for three months! ...Louis IXth!
But how can it be that this seems tangible and new
In this place strewn about with crumbling marvels
Than which there are none older under the sun!
Evoking, as if it were yesterday:
That name whose bearer, though crushed, is so proud of
That he knows by heart, faultlessly,
- Roots, trunks, boughs, connecting branches -
His family tree; the cathedrals eroded by time;
Likewise the proud menhir, the first cromlech
The dolmen beneath which the soil is always dry.





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