the last

One week a graduate and my old body feels submerged in an ocean. Not gone. Nor out of sight. But a statue of stone has been buried deep away. It sits now at rest, accumulating bright coral and wavering tentacles of seaweed.

The inner flesh has left the stoney frame. It is propelled toward the shimmering light at the water’s surface. Reaching the surface of a new life, this fleshy newborn swims an endless barrage of waves toward an unseen island. The island remains surely in the distance, but the only assurance of its existence is the relentless motion she makes towards it.  Ever assured of its presence, the swim shall continue.

One of my professors this past semester claimed that metaphor is everything; we see everything relative to something else. …That metaphor is the language all humans speak.

My mind hesitated to accept such a poetic generalization, but my heart now tells me it is true.

Now, I can only think in metaphor. It is the only way I can see because, fighting through these waves and swallowing sea water, I only can make sense of what lies ahead through what I have seen behind me. The past is clear as day and my future looms hazy and uncertain.

Graduation was lovely and bright. The startling beauty of the day – mid 70s and sunny with fresh green swaths of cut lawn and newly blooming rhododendron – made a neat paradox with the violent storm in my heart.

Writing how I shall miss Bates is quite useless, for I now this violent storm all too well.

It comes from how I shall miss you.



The senior capstone project I am doing for French is based on the works of Marguerite de Navarre, a queen of the French Renaissance (queen of Navarre and sister to the king of France). She was a prolific and well published writer of her day –  a considerable feat considering the rigid place of women in the Catholic monarchial culture of renaissance France.

My project focuses on her discussion of love, not just in her most famous work, a collection of contes entitled L’Heptaméron, but also in her spiritual poems and songs. The two types of love I examine are Godly love (l’amour de Dieu) and physical love (l’amour physique).

Marguerite published one large religious work at the very beginning of her career – and the height of the Reformation. It was called Le miroir de l’âme pécheresse, or as translated by the Queen Elizabeth I in her youth, Mirror of the Sinful Soul. It a poem of approximately 1,400 lines that weaves through many stories of the Bible, rewriting them as they fit Marguerite’s life, and intimate confessions of love and devotion to God. The personal relationship Marguerite claimed with God as well as her excessive interpretation of the Word was grounds for excommunication by any other Catholic standard of the day, but her brother shielded her from the fury of the Sorbonne in Paris. This work serves as a starting point for understanding not only Marguerite’s understanding of religion, but also her understanding of herself, and the world around her.

The most well-known work of Marguerite’s is the collection of short stories, or contes, known as L’Heptaméron. The work includes over 70 short stories, many of which include the dramatic sexual escapades of the court, the unveiling of corrupt clergymen, scatological humor, and tragic tales of love and devotion.  Marguerite’s collection is not just a collection though: each story is carefully woven into the voice of a narrator who takes part in the larger over-arching plot of the book (there are ten such devisants). The story I am looking at closely is one that is generally thought to be closely based on her own life. It is a marvelous story – a fascinating read. In fact, you should read it now – it takes less than 20 minutes. Go here.

Crazy. Right? Crazier: they (our dear French Renaissance narrators)  probably would not considered this “rape”, or rather “rape” was so common that it wasn’t really commented upon as wrong in general.

The conclusion of my thesis tries to marry these two distinct works  by Marguerite and explain how they relate to one another, asserting in the end that the one deeply spiritual work is a necessity to the quite secular and scandalous stories of the Heptameron.

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