Chaise-Dieu, France

Bruce McIntyre

Above the bowl of earth,    
The sea of fields chopped and checkered with forests,
Time hangs layered in transparent silt
Breathing two notes, a cuckoo.

The town is nothing, a mere bastide on a ridge
Staring blindly out upon the green waves,
The abbey is these sightless eyes, they close
And batter inwards while a stony rump is thrust
Into the hillside, nose turned up in a perpetual
Arrogant sleep, not dead, snap frozen.

The coldest church they ever knew,
Hunched in their stalls, not torture’s semblance
But its reality, the church as tomb,
Pope Clement and all his forty-four rigid relatives
Clustered there beneath their suffering gaze
While just to draw you further to the grave
A dance of death is rollicking behind your backs.

The Abbaye de La Chaise-Dieu dates from the 11th century. It is the burial place of Pope Clement VI and contains a famous 15th centiry fresco of the "Danse Macabre".

Poetry Atlas has many poems about France.

Main Location:

43160 La Chaise-Dieu, France

Other locations:

Abbey of La Chaise-Dieu, France