Autour du château de Versailles

April 11, 2011

Very bright gold paint just being applied to all decorative items of the front? of the palace. Louis XIV, looking sunny  on a dull day.  This time next year the refurb will look as we expect it – but did he prefer this Essex look?

The parterres on the rear terraces crisp and vernal with a delightful, random mixed infill – it isn’t random on inspection but carefully patterned to flow without a stilted look  – not Essex! Yellow narcissus are OK if plenty of white are mixed in too.

Le Nôtre had great foresight . . .

. . . and Jules Harduin-Mansart also possessed a formidable understanding of scale. A small area of the orangerie looking empty last week but  the topiary is clearly visible. Once the caisse are placed then these diminish in importance.

Ornate pavilion/tents at the entrances to the park – mmmm, might have to borrow these for a scheme!

Great scale again down by les grandes eaux.

Water jets still in winter wraps but the magnificence astounds.


Nothing nastier than a white person!  

She mutters as she irons alterations

in the backroom of Charlotte’s Dress Shoppe.

The steam rising from a cranberry wool

comes alive with perspiration

and stale Evening of Paris.

Swamp she born from, swamp

she swallow, swamp she got to sink again.

 The iron shoves gently

into a gusset, waits until

the puckers bloom away. Beyond

the curtain, the white girls are all

wearing shoulder pads to make their faces

delicate. That laugh would be Autumn,

tossing her hair in imitation of Bacall.

Beulah had read in the library

how French ladies at court would tuck

their fans in a sleeve

and walk in the gardens for air. Swaying

among lilies, lifting shy layers of silk,

they dropped excrement as daintily

as handkerchieves. Against all rules

she had saved the lining from a botched coat

to face last year’s gray skirt. She knows

whenever she lifts a knee

she flashes crimson. That seems legitimate;

but in the book she had read

how the cavaliere amused themselves

wearing powder and perfume and spraying

yellow borders knee-high on the stucco

of the Orangerie.

A hanger clatters

in the front of the shoppe.

Beulah remembers how

even Autumn could lean into a settee

with her ankles crossed, sighing

I need a man who’ll protect me

while smoking her cigarette down to the very end. Rita Dove The Great Palaces of Versailles


3 Responses to “Autour du château de Versailles”

  1. Cloudier Says:

    Is this a poem or an extract from a book? Intriguing. Fantastic fountain too.

  2. julia fogg Says:

    A poem – look up Rita Dove – she’s contemporary and writes well.

  3. […] the gates into the Privy Garden, the French influence is obvious. The new gilding has echoes of Versailles but further on the path towards Kingston areas of wild flowers contrast with the […]

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