I am sharing one of my favorite poems here, although all I can tell you about the author is that her first name is Nancy. She was in a college writing course with me in the early 1970s taught by Joanne De Longchamps (see my previous post Tea Time: Mumbai for background). Ms. De Longchamps passed out mimeograph copies of our poems without our names so that we felt free to read any poem out loud, after which open discussion would begin. As my fellow students were matched with their poems I wrote their first names following the poems, otherwise I'd have no information about this poet.
What I remember about Nancy is that she was small and in my mind's eye resembled Natalie Merchant. She was serious, studious. She was one of the few in class who, when Ms. De Longchamps welcomed anyone to read any poem, volunteered to read her own poem. Before reading this one Nancy told us a brief story introducing it........
She and her husband had visited her husband's Uncle Leon in the Basque area of France the previous summer. Leon was blind. Leon accepted his blindness. But Leon would also accept a miracle if one were given him, and so he made regular pilgrimages to Lourdes.
Then Nancy read her poem.
whose eyes are pale
works the summer corn
with worn hands,
and sometimes he remembers
.....the Green hills --
.....on the Mountain home.
Tomorrow in the morning
he will walk down to St. Jean
and take the train to Lourdes
Videographer MokongX3M describes the scene:
Recorded from atop the Rosary Basilica, possibly the best view for this,
parade of sorts, that takes place every night in Lourdes at 9pm.
Music: The Voice by Eimear Quinn
This travel website features the photos of St Jean de Luz and Lourdes above with the following description of one of the tours it offers:
The week starts with a 4-day pilgrimage in Lourdes which includes daily mass, an tour of the Sanctuary, a walking tour of Lourdes visiting the places related to St. Bernadette, and participation in the Blessed Sacrament and Torchlight Processions.
The remainder of the week will be spent in the scenic seaside resort of St. Jean de Luz, the largest of the Basque towns in France. An fishing port close to the Spanish border, Saint Jean de Luz is a lively, cosmopolitan town. Around the main square in the town centre, you can find some of the best seafood restaurants on the Basque Coast and bars and terraces from which you will enjoy the regular musical events in the square. However, one of the main attractions in St. Jean de Luz is the miles of sandy beach.
When I began this post I had no idea that this is The Year of Bernadette-2009. If interested in learning more you can check out U.S. pilgrimage information.