The Spring at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

The Spring at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

When Adam was shamed,
Knowing his nakedness,
Tradition has it that
The first leaf to hand
Came from the fig-tree.

The forbidden fruit
Surely sprang from the same branch:
Knowledge and understanding,
Fruit and leaf from the one tree.

Above the Sorgue’s source,
At Fontaine-de-Vaucluse
Stunted fig trees
Cling to the cliff
Which closes the valley,
Rooted in meagre fissures in the rock.

After August has parched
The hills of Provence,
Still water fills the fathomless basin
Where ignorant youths sport bravado
And cavort shamelessly over
Its unplumbed depths.

But each spring it rises to
Its primaeval force,
A torrent of exuberance
Enough to inspire
And every poet,
Scribe and scholar
In his train.
Here his thoughts, tightly coiled
Around the image
Of Laura de Noyes,
Were slaked,
And flowered into words.

For others too
It is a source for thought,
Free medium to float
Metaphysics with physics,
Sonnets with sermons and theorems.
Words spill over the rocks
Carried in a cavalcade of notes
On the current.

I am glad the fig grows here
Above the river’s source.
And that on its banks
They still press paper –
Rafts for words,
Leaves of understanding
That grow Man
Into more than Adam.

David Matthews
August 2003

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