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The Marquis Folco de Baroncelli
excerpts from “the poets I have known”:
He is a horseman, or to put it better, a knight from home. Folco de Baroncelli, Marquis de Javon, Patricien de Florence, Citizen of Avignon, “lou Marquès” for all the people of Camargue… The residence of Roure is the one which, since the 15th century, had seen the Baroncelli who escaped from Florence live after the conspiracy of the Pazzi. He thought only of perpetuating the traditions still living and resuscitating those which, down through the ages, had fallen asleep. He worked for the glory of Provence, whose customs he saw with difficulty deteriorating and the old language fading away.

Now, for this most noble task, he had a guide, a reliable master, the poet de Maillane; he went straight to him, the disciple declared himself immediately, opened the Palais du Roure to him. Mistral, for nine years, came to compose his felibrean combat diary with the tasty title “L’Aïoli” which he named Folco de Baroncelli le Baile, that is to say the guardian and the guide, the nurturer …

For nine years, from 1891 to 1899, Folco de Baroncelli put, one can say it, and with what courage, the hand in the unctuous paste, which delighted Provençal appetites; Mistral brought there, from Maillane, the purest oil; young poets the condiment of their first verses; Father Xavier de Fourvière, with the white gesture of his monastic sleeve, blessed the holy table grouped together for the glory of the land.

When the “aioli” fell, as it sometimes sags, when the weather is not favorable, under the pestle of the best cooks, Folco, leaving the mortar now useless, jumped on horseback! He had a taste for horses and also a taste for bulls from the Languedocian race of Chazelles, of which his mother was. As a child, when he spent a few days with his maternal grandparents at the Mas de Laiaud or at the Château de Bellecôte, he had seen “abrivado”, ferrades, cockade races or simulacra. He wanted to get into the fire and, as he was doing nothing by half, also become the owner of horses and bulls, to have his own herd. He established it at Mas de l’Amarée, right next to Saintes Maries de la Mer.

It was in 1907 that I saw him for the first time at the Palais des Papes, a well-chosen place for such a meeting. I had gone to attend a Provencal feast crowned by a banquet. Mistral chaired it; Folco, who had been close to him for 20 years, could have paraded alongside him, had placed himself at the bottom of some table, where I was near him, a humble beginner barely advanced on the “white path” of my adolescence. poetic.

This is enough to indicate how much this gentleman, this poet already known to Felibreancircles, displayed a simplicity and modesty which have been such throughout his life; we sometimes found them excessive; they were not with him, however, an assignment, but the simple humility of a man who, while having done a lot, measured what remained to be achieved.

The Marquis Folco de Baroncelli

He never wished for any title, he led a heroic and wise life in his paltry solitude, satisfied to reign as a comrade over the riders of the “nacioun Gardiano” to whom he had given life, to whom he left his soul, or at least a large part of his soul, because another is linked to this ancestral home of Roure where his heart has remained in the figurative sense, but also in the material sense of the word. This heart is there, according to his wish, in the Franciscan chapel, opposite that of Louis Le Cardonnel

Folco with his blue or pink checkered shirt, his large gardian’s felt, with all the ardor and suppleness of a handsome rider, wielded his mount at will, as it remained until past seventy-two years, at the eve of his death.

But at Roure I could see beyond the “Marques”, the public man, acclaimed by the Provençal crowds, the very simple man, carrying the weight of his daily worries, his family responsibilities, the breeding of his bulls, painful pecuniary affairs, all the other side of this “mestié de glori” (profession of glory), as the good Charloun Rieux said, that is the profession of gardian, and even more that of manadié. He was plaintive at times, with his soft voice modeled according to the intonations of the purest dialect of Avignon, but also resigned, fatalistic and dignified, confident in God and even more in Sainte Estelle and the Saintes Maries, and subtle too, diplomat with a sort of Italian ruse. Without any concern for his poetic glory, he would never have collected his verses or his tales, if Madame de Flandreysy had not had them edited. Whether it was for the commemorations of Mistral, on which he would have had so much to say, or those of the first Félibres that he had almost all known, he remained silent, used to being silent and meditating in front of the horizons of the Camargue.

Sober in words and verse, he too realized himself in his life more than in his written work; however, I believe that in the privacy of his friendly correspondence he willingly expressed his feelings, and Mme de Flandreysy has many admirable letters from him.

When the circumstance required it, whether it was for the centenary of the Mistralien celebrated in Roure, in 1930, or in 1941 for the fiftieth anniversary of the newspaper “l’Aïoli”, of which he had been “baile” for eight years, that is to say To say editor-in-chief, he spoke because he was forced to do so and he could not shirk. But for him poetry and eloquence were above all action, and it is through action, through his attitude of an obstinate gardian, that he will remain in the eyes and the memory of the people of Languedoc and Provence. Sober in words and verse, he too has come to fruition in his life more than in his written work. He died in Avignon in December 1943, driven from his farmhouse, which the German occupation had made uninhabitable for him, in full awareness of his end, Christianity accepted.

Mai es aquèu passage of all aro, that asks me like vai estre!”
(But this passage from earlier, I wonder what it’s going to be) he said a few hours before his death. Ah! the pretty word of a curious and courageous poet!

Folco de Baroncelli: Descendant of a former Florentine family that owned the Palais du Roure, which he sold in 1918 to Jeanne de Flandreysy. He then bought a farmhouse, horses, bulls, and led the harsh life of a Camargue gardian. The memory of the Marquis de Baroncelli is still very much alive at Saintes Maries de la Mer, for having defended the Camargue and its traditions and for having founded the “Nacioun Gardiano”.


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