Impressions of Domme



"A few months before the war broke out, I decided to take a long holiday. I had wanted to discover the Dordogne valley for a long time. So I packed my suitcase and took the train to Rocamadour where I arrived early in the morning, at sunrise, the moon still shining. It was a stroke of genius on my part to leave for the Dordogne before plunging into the luminous and venerable universe of the Greek world. Just the sight of this dark and mysterious river from Domme, from this magnificent cliff on the edge of the village, is an unforgettable wonder. For me this river and this land belong to the poet Rainer Maria Rilke. This place is neither French, nor Austrian, nor even European: it is an enchanted country that belongs to the poets and to them alone. It is the closest thing to Paradise this side of Greece. Let us say that it is the Paradise of the French, if you like. It must have been a paradise for thousands of years. I imagine that it was already the case for Cro-Magnon man, despite the fossilized traces left in these large caves which suggest incredible and terrifying living conditions. It seems to me that Cro-Magnon man settled here because he was extremely intelligent and had an extremely developed aesthetic sense. It seems to me that he also had a highly developed religious feeling and that he flourished in these places, even though he lived like an animal in the depths of the caves. And I believe that this beautiful and peaceful part of France will always be a sacred place for mankind, and when the cities have killed the poets, this will be the refuge and the cradle of the poets to come. Once again, it was of paramount importance for me to have seen the Dordogne: it gives me hope for the future of the human race and for the future of the planet. France may cease to exist one day, but the Dordogne will endure, as will the dreams that nourish the human soul.

Henry Miller, The Colossus of Maroussi

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