While Walter was tending to our luggage at our Saint-Paul de Vence hotel, I took the opportunity to explore the city’s walled cemetery. The unperturbed tranquility of French necropolises had drawn many creative souls to their terra firma, and I was no exception to the rule.
As is often the case, I found equilibrium and dissonance within these sacred grounds. Creativity ran rampant as inspirations flooded my mind in these ascetic halls of sepulcher resplendence. Yet, trepidations that I would unavoidably join the departed surrounded me. Fervent eruditions stirred profundities that a life well lived is not measured by salary, title, job satisfaction, nor accolades, friendships, or tasks accomplished. But by love, sacrifice, joy, intention, action, motivation and the times I smiled when it was easier to glare. Last, but by no means least - giving without reservations.
A hand reached for my shoulder when I was in ardent contemplation.
“What are you doing in a boneyard?” my beloved uttered.
“To find myself,” I replied before I resumed, “It was my erudite tutor, Professor Alain Dubois who introduced me to Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris, back in 1968.”
“I know all about it. You related the story in A Harem Boy’s Saga – V – Metanoia, the 5th installment in your never-ending autobiography,” he taunted jestingly.
I countered, “Dubois once said, ‘Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal’.”
My ‘hubby’ teased, “Are you pining for your beloved Andy?”
He waited for my response. None came.
He added, “Why are you in this macabre surrounding? Are you cogitating death?”
I retaliated chaffingly, “Honey, when it’s time for me to go:
Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there.
I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush,
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there.
I did not die.”
He chortled at my poem and said, “Come on! It’s time to join the living. Lament no further for the departed for we still have years ahead, before we woo the dead.”
Bernard Foong (aka Young)
A Harem Boy’s Saga; a memoir by Young
(a 5 – 7 book autobiographical series)
Many of the famous tombs in Pere Lachaise house the remains of those who have contributed to the world of high culture.
Famous authors include Honore de Balzac, Marcel Proust, Alfred de Musset, Gerard de Nerval, Guillaume Apollinaire, Colette, Oscar Wilde, Richard Wright, Gertrude Stein, and Alice B. Toklas.
Artists buried here include Eugene Delacroix, Gustave Dore, Camille Pissarro, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Pierre Paul Prud'hon, Gustave Caillebotte, Theodore Gericault, Rene Lalique, and Max Ernst.
Composers Frederic Chopin and George Enescu round out the list.
The cemetery is also the resting place of some eminent scientists, including physiologist Claude Bernard, engineer Zenobe Gramme, and sociologist Henri de Saint-Simon.
Pere Lachaise cemetery, located in Paris, France, is the largest cemetery in the city and one of the most visited cemeteries in the world.
At Pere Lachaise, one can visit the graves of numerous celebrities from the realms of history, music, literature, art, theatre, and science.