Ancient furniture and poetry

The old furniture, Creole or not, has often made poets dream, especially those who, through their memories of childhood or youth, were the most sensitive to perceive the unusual atmosphere that emerges from the aesthetic density of its multiple forms and volumes. With lyricism, they tried to remind us sometimes of the unspeakable poetry of certain rooms in a house in which they had lived happily, thanks to the grave and solemn presence of all this old furniture, true works of art, elegant and comfortable that they had learned to love and cherish during the heyday of their existence.

The poet Charles Baudelaire, who resided as we know, in the Indian Ocean islands: Mauritius and Reunion, in the year 1842, had no doubt the opportunity to admire and appreciate the style of the old Creole furniture, which is why, in our opinion, he naturally sang

– “The shiny furniture, polished by the years” who would decorate, according to his desire, the exotic room where he saw himself living with his beautiful mixed-race lover, Jeanne Duval, to whom he dedicated a whole bouquet of superb poems.

In the closed intimacy of this Parisian alcove, located on the quai de Béthune, on the Ile Saint-Louis, we therefore readily imagine our poet Baudelaire, who liked the spicy taste of creolity, alongside his muse, and savoring the great love, distilled in drops of the most refined pleasures. In harmony with his dream: “In a deserted house, some cupboard full of the pungent smell of time”, and where “the pure mirrors, which make all things beautiful”, here is a very pretty decor which can certainly contribute to “the softness of the hearth and the charm of the evenings ”; for “jewelry, furniture, metals, gilding adapted just to the rare beauty” of her adorable Jeanne, who “voluptuously drowned her nakedness in the kisses of satin and linen”.

Baudelaire, the mad lover of women and islands, we always remember his wonderful contentment, confessed with delight, when he exclaims

– “There, everything is only order and beauty, luxury, calm and pleasure”

Like the poet who experienced and expressed such pleasant sensations, we think and say like all true West Indians that the Creole movable heritage, which made the charm of our so-called “colonial” villas, still has today, multiple resonances in our heart, which make us fully dream.

Why that ? But Baudelaire, still him, has already answered our questions. It is, he says, because perhaps “everything there would speak in secret his sweet native language”

Indeed, the beautiful variety of “voluptuous furniture; marbles, paintings; the perfumed dresses that hang with sumptuous folds; the rarest flowers mixing their scents with the vague scents of amber, the rich ceilings, the deep mirrors ”. All this is our good of tenderness and joy, which speaks of our identity, silently with dream words. It is our creation: the beautiful products of our soil, of our terroir, sprung from the hands of our artisans, our artists, our wood poets, and whose pleasure we enjoy savored by sight, smell and to touch ; our noble brand image that is reflected, narcissistically, in the mirror of our contentment in the aesthetic and artistic fascination of ourselves. The poetry of things, and the taste for living also are there in the stylization and the beauty of “these beds full of light odors, deep couches … with the pale clarity of languid lamps”.

And also in the other furniture, either living room or dining room, made of our courbaril wood, mahogany, mahogany, cypress or pear. Names of strange-sounding trees, which, by their very writing, have always made me dream, like so many materialized essences, of entities coming from the unknown from the most varied worlds.

Singularities of these names which could condition and justify, in substance poetic, the very fibrous texture of these woods.

This high mystery did not escape the intuitive vigilance of the Creole poet Saint-John Perse who meditated on this in one of the poems in his collection: “The Winds”. He writes in “Chronicle”

“What did we know about the emblazoned grandmother’s bed in its speckled wood from the islands? …

There was no name for us in the old bronze gong of the ancient house.

There was no name for us in our mothers’ oratory (jacaranda or citron wood)

nor the mobile gold antenna on the front of the colored guards … “

West Indian, nestled in the depths of his childhood, Saint-John Perse, like Baudelaire, sang the aesthetic objects of another time, such as: “bronze chasing, grooves of pilasters, windows populated with trees, tall cupboards to books “and evoked, for his pleasure and ours,” the swan neck of large glossy furniture, the color of spice wine “- which undoubtedly come from our homes of yesteryear, from our West Indian Creole heritage recovered, in any nostalgia, in the quick and measured time of a verse or the emotion of a heartbeat ….

by Georges Desportes

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