by Peter Dreyer (May 2023)
Le Bûcher de Montségur, Jacques Fauché, 1960
Do you remember an Inn,
Do you remember an Inn?
. . .
And the fleas that tease in the High Pyrenees,
And the wine that tasted of tar?
___________—Hilaire Belloc, “Tarantella” (1929)
Mount Montségur’s also in the Pyrenees,
to which ten thousand Frenchmen came one day
asked by the pope to light a holy fire
in the thirteenth century; no stakes
were necessary—when to the field led
the perfecti climbed freely on the pyre.
Damnation take our ancestors, brutes
that they were! I’m not sorry they are dead!
I read Belloc’s poem at my high school
in Africa (it was an all-white school—
they never got my views in that regard).
He favored, it seems, freedom as a rule,
but required cock and balls to vote, the fool:
blot out his name, then—cancel the bad bard!
Note: On Mount Montségur, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siege_of_Monts%C3%A9gur . For the Cathar perfecti, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cathar_Perfect. The Hindu term Pitra Dosha refers to karmic afflictions inherited from one’s ancestors–see, e.g., https://vedics.in/pitra-dosha-curse-remedies. The Franco-British writer Hilaire Belloc (1870–1953), the author of Cautionary Tales for Children, among them “Jim, Who Ran Away from His Nurse, and Was Eaten by a Lion” and “Matilda, Who Told Lies and Was Burned to Death,” a member of the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League, campaigned against women being enfranchised in the early years of the twentieth century.
Peter Richard Dreyer is a South African American writer. He is the author of A Beast in View (London: André Deutsch), The Future of Treason (New York: Ballantine), A Gardener Touched with Genius: The Life of Luther Burbank (New York: Coward, McCann & Geoghegan; rev. ed., Berkeley: University of California Press; new, expanded ed., Santa Rosa, CA: Luther Burbank Home & Gardens), Martyrs and Fanatics: South Africa and Human Destiny (New York: Simon & Schuster; London: Secker & Warburg), and most recently the novel Isacq (Charlottesville, VA: Hardware River Press, 2017).
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