Advertisements

Paris Valentine: 50 Shades of Sepia

Un baiser c'estcomme un poème! (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Un baiser c’est comme un poème! (French sweetheart postcards below: Theadora Brack’s archives)

C'est lui parler pour un instant (Image: T. Brack's archives)

C’est lui parler pour un instant (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

By Theadora Brack

In celebration of Saint-Valentine’s Day, next week I plan to share my all-time favorite love letter by poet and founding surrealist Guillaume Apollinaire to Madeleine Pagès, written in 1915 while he was enlisted in the French army’s 38th Regiment of Field Artillery during the Great War.

Apollinaire’s prose is pretty darn steamy. You are in for a treat, in fifty shades of glorious sepia.

In the meantime, let’s salute to love with our annual toast. And yes, let’s share another sweet-and-sour Sidecar!

Repeating myself: Invented at the Ritz during the aforementioned Great War by head barman Frank Meier (and author of the “Artistry of Mixing Drinks”—Harry’s New York Bar devotees, look away!), you go and grab the cognac and Cointreau while I squeeze the lemon and crack the ice. You know the thrill!

But especially on this special day of the year, let’s not forget Frank Meier’s neat credo about what makes a great bar truly great. It’s not the drink recipes, and it’s not the décor. It’s the people. So spread the warmth. Straight up! I say, like there’s no tomorrow.

Until next week!

My love I am sending you a butterfly’s wing that I found today.

Butterflies have beautiful names but I don’t know them, beautiful mythological names.

May the autumnal hues of this wing suggest to you the even more delicate shades of love.

—Guillaume Apollinaire to Madeleine, October 1915

Faisons un Rêve! (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Pour ma pétite aimée (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Pour ma petite aimée (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Carte de Baisers (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Carte de Baisers! (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Mais unis dans la méme pensèe! (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Mais unis dans la meme pensèe! (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Bonheur! (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Nous tenons la Victoire et bientôt jolie suprême! (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Nous tenons la Victoire et bientôt jolie suprême! (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Le communique-Nous progressons encore (Image: T. Brack's archives)

Le communique-Nous progressons encore (Image: T. Brack’s archives)

Doueur by Aristide Maillol, Jardin des Tuileries, 1922 Photograph by Theadora Brack

Doueur by Aristide Maillol, Jardin des Tuileries, 1922 Photograph by Theadora Brack

BRACK Love 11

 

 

Advertisements

66 thoughts on “Paris Valentine: 50 Shades of Sepia

    • I’m with you! I love sepia photography. I love classic French postcards. (My favorite hunting grounds for “cartes postale ancienne” is at Caveyron Devey, located at stall number 7 and 8 in the Passage Lecuyer (off Rue Jules Vallès) in the Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt.)

      The dealer’s stall is a narrow labyrinth of floor-to-ceiling boxes, stocked with postcards all meticulously organized by category or genre. Another heaven on earth!
      ~T.
      (Enjoy the week!)

      Like

    • Thanks, Patti! I’ve been reading “Letters to Madeleine: Guillaume Apollinaire,” edited by Laurence Campa and translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. I’m now hooked. Since its arrival, I haven’t been able to put it down. Six hundred pages of glorious and surreal prose. It’s a page-turner. Delicate shades of love abound! Oui. Oui. Oui.
      ~T.

      Like

    • Ah, Merci! My classic French sweetheart card collection is growing. I scored a few more at the flea markets over the weekend. I love to study the handwriting. And of course, the messages are always so moving.

      Happy Saint-Valentine’s Week to you!
      ~T.

      Like

    • Ah, thanks! I also find the sweetheart postcards, along with black and white photographs at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market. Another favorite hunting ground! You’d love it there.

      (Here you’ll find ephemera dealers and wheelers throughout the market. My favorite stalls are located kitty-corner to the piano player and snack shack halfway through the market. Yes, you would enjoy the hunt!)

      Happy Valentine’s Day to you!
      ~T.

      Like

    • Thanks, Violet! Guillaume Apollinaire had a way with words.Guillaume and Madeleine corresponded practically everyday. Every blue moon, they’d send a telegram. (I think they would have loved email.)

      On the 9th of October, Apollinaire wrote: “My love, I beg you to be sure always to reply to my letters, and if need be to repeat my questions so that I can put your reply in context. Remember that your answer to a question of mine takes half a month to reach me, meaning that an extended exchange of ideas between us cannot consist of more than 24 statements in the course of a year, which should give you a sense of your obligations with respect to my questions!”

      Like

    • Thanks, Thom! I’ve also been collecting WWI patriotic music sheets. Ah, the covers are fantastical. Gorgeous illustrations. So stay tuned for another journey.

      Have a great week!
      ~T.

      (Do you ever go to the flea market on 25th Street? If so, have you ever spotted postcard dealers? I think I’ve spotted a few inside the parking garage. But that was a few years ago.)

      Like

  1. I shall take your word for it, with the content of those pictures, but I do know where ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ got its name from and it did involve soldiers in France, and it did involve women in Paris, although I wouldn’t say that they were exactly “sweethearts”… if you know what I mean.

    Like

    • Thanks for the sweet words and Big Heart, Lisa!
      ~T.

      (If you’re a fan of love letters, I also highly recommend “A Literate Passion: Letters of Anaïs Nin and Henry Miller.” Another romantic read!)

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve read that book and you’re right, it is romantic! I’m a big fan of Henry & Anais. 💟 Now I’m reading the letters of Nelson Algren & Simone de Beauvoir – so far it’s terrific.

        Like

      • Lisa, thanks for the book recommendation. I just ordered a copy of “A Transatlantic Love Affair: Letters to Nelson Algren.”
        I’m looking forward to the read!
        ~T.

        Like

  2. Wow, that’s a beautiful poem – I was expecting Surrealism with a capital S – I’m going to find a collection of his poetry now. The images are delightful! Happy Valentine’s, T! (from ?)

    Like

    • Happy Saint-Valentine’s Day to you, Richard! I highly recommend “Letters to Madeleine: Guillaume Apollinaire,” edited by Laurence Campa and translated by Donald Nicholson-Smith. It was published by Seagull books in 2010. You should be able to find it online. Along a few passages from his letters, I also plan to share a few poems. Steamy Surrealism with a capital S!
      ~T.

      Like

    • Thanks, Kamila! Again, I highly recommend the postcard dealers at the Porte de Vanves Flea Market and Marché aux Puces St-Ouen de Clignancourt. I recently spent an entire morning at the Clignancourt stall! It was super cold, but I enjoyed every moment of the hunt.(The dealer is always friendly and helpful, too. Plus he has a table with bench. It makes browsing easy, breezy and comfortable.)

      Enjoy the week!
      ~T.

      Like

  3. What a fabulous bouquet of heady, Parisienne romance all wrapped up in your totally fresh, chic, girl about town, vintage style! I love it Theadora! You have cut through all the commercialism of the supermarket flowers and taken us to the heart of something special and real.
    Have a very Happy Valentine’s Day.
    Karen

    Like

    • What thoughtful words! Chic?! This dorkie hopeless romantic thanks you!

      The letters are beautiful. And sassy, too! Along with words, they also shared few “selfies!”

      On the 23rd of June in 1915, the flirty and witty Apollinaire wrote, “In the second photo, Madeleine is shown at her worktable. Her hair wilder – and so soft. Is she smiling? Dreaming? Here it is the nose that is voluptuous. I suspect Madeleine is not wearing a corset!”

      Like

    • I know. I know. It breaks the heart.

      Sharing one more passage: On June 3, 1915, “Gui” wrote, “Please send me more photographs of you. The one I now have never leaves me. I keep in my left jacket pocket.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Mary! Yes, after “Gui” and his “Little Fairy” met on a train in 1915, they corresponded practically every day. You’d appreciate this: Along with poems and photographs, Apollinaire also sent Madeleine little drawings. Stay tuned for more passages!

      Enjoy the week!
      ~T.

      Like

    • Merci! Yes, I also love the “Carte de Baisers” card. The “Pour Ma Petite Aimée” card is another favorite. So handsome! Dashing. My collection keeps growing. Over the weekend, I scored more postcards. Along with the images, the handwriting is often exquisite. They’re works of art, really.

      Happy Saint-Valentine’s Day!
      ~T.

      Like

  4. With each gloriously sentimental postcard my heart beat faster. It’s all about love and romance and sentimental moments that live forever in our thoughts and in our hearts. The world needs more of this and less of the other. Scatter rose petals. Pour a glass of bubbly. Put waltz on the Victrola and dance your way to happiness.
    In the movie Don Juan Demarco – Dunaway and Brando waltz on a beach.When ever my darling and I hear that music we stop what we are doing and waltz. We have even waltzed on the driveway (while gardening) and in a supermarket.

    Like

    • Dear Virginia, Thank you for another gorgeous passage! I love your Don Juan Demarco waltzing, waltzing on the beach ritual. (Great scene!) Ah, rituals woo the heart each and every time. “That joke AND dance NEVER gets old,” is what I always say. Especially in the aisles of the grocery store! (I bet folks applauded.) Every day is Saint-Valentine’s Day, in my book. Perhaps it’s time to spin a little Leonard Cohen on the Victor-Victrola. Another King of Romance!

      Enjoy the week!
      ~T.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I cranked that sweet old Victrola and listened for the millionth time to … Take This Waltz – Take this Waltz. The words have one falling in love all over again T.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Happy Saint-Valentine’s Day, Janet! Along with the butterfly wing, Apollinaire and Madeleine shared bottles of cologne, fruit, bonbons, and rose petals, glass, and bark. Yes, the butterfly passage is a favorite. I get a little weepy each a read it.

      Stay warm!
      T.

      Like

  5. Love those vintage Valentines. I once happened upon a vintage postcard market at Les Halles. Had to restrain myself from buying too many treasures.

    Like

    • bonus poétique… 🙂

      Le baiser… – Anna de Noailles

      Couples fervents et doux, ô troupe printanière! Aimez au gré des jours.
      Tout, l’ombre, la chanson, le parfum, la lumière noue et dénoue l’amour…
      Le vent qui vient mêler ou disjoindre les branches à de moins brusques bonds
      Que le désir qui fait que les êtres se penchent l’un vers l’autre et s’en vont…
      Les frôlements légers des eaux et de la terre, les blés qui vont mûrir,
      La douleur et la mort sont moins involontaires que le choix du désir…
      Joyeux dans les jardins où l’été vert s’étale vous passez en riant,
      Mais les doigts enlacés, ainsi que des pétales, iront se défeuillant…
      Les cœurs ne prendront plus, comme deux tourterelles, l’harmonieux essor,
      Vos âmes, âprement, vont s’apaiser entre elles, c’est l’amour et la mort…

      Liked by 1 person

    • AH, Mélanie! What a gorgeous nod to love and the fantastical “kiss=baiser!” As always the words and photographs are beautiful. (I think the window shot is my favorite.) Thank you for sharing the link. Moody-bluesy and romantic!
      Enjoy the weekend,
      ~Theadora
      (And as always, thanks for your kind words!)

      Like

    • Thanks, Rhonda! After reading Donald Nicholson-Smith’s “Letters to Madeleine” from cover to cover, I’m now quite smitten with Guillaume Apollinaire! It’s true.

      Enjoy the week!
      ~Theadora

      Like

  6. Pingback: Paris: A Sentimental Journey | Paris: People, Places and Bling

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: