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Frédéric Mistral

Music: Violin Concerto in E minor Op.64 (1st movement – allegro) – Félix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)

1901 Emile RIPERT’s first interview with Frédéric MISTRAL:

“Reading Mistral was good, but writing to him and going to see him was much better. I began by writing and by presenting myself well, I did it in verse… alas! but in French verse, in a poem in honor of Mireio on the very rhythm of Mistral, the seven-verse stanza so unwieldy in French. I probably didn’t do too badly, because Mistral answered me. We know, moreover, that he answered everything and everyone, having acquired this charitable habit in memory of the sorrow he had felt at the disdainful silence of Jasmin, to whom at the age of fifteen he had sent an “admiring coin”. But still there were nuances in Mistral’s letters; the one he addressed to me was very encouraging and it ended with an interesting suggestion:

“E ounour de segur farias à la Prouvenço, se patriouticamen you adounassias de cor à la estudi
of his lengo; May aco not be matched, you’re a passion like a
autro, es esta la mieuno à vint an n’i’a proun que on p
artajado ”(And undoubtedly you would do Provence, if you patriotically devote your heart to the study of its language; Don’t order, it’s a passion like any other: it was mine at twenty and there are many who have shared it.)

Frédéric MISTRAL

Encouraged by this pretty letter and this mark of confidence which the great poet gave me by delivering to me, poor man, a still unpublished stanza, I decided to go to Maillane and to use the Easter holidays for this trip. What this trip was to me, the emotions it aroused in my soul, the hopes it opened up, I have said in verse in a long poem entitled “Pilgrimage to Maillane“.

These were indeed the feelings of the pilgrim with which I was animated, a fervor, a candor, the naive admiration of a soul of twenty years, it was then my exact age, I was going by train from Tarascon, to Graveson station, short trip, and there, either there is no stage coach on this train for Maillane, or that I would have left it aside, to have more merit, to see the landscape better or so as not to arrive too early, I set out on foot; At the crossroads I greeted the Auberge du Petit Saint Jean, whose beautiful servant had been sung by the ardent Aubanel, then I took the path, still white at that date, under the fresh plane trees of the first spring, which led to Maillane. It was the beginning of April, the fields were in bloom, really Easter, soft, bright and tender.

Maillane church where Mistral was baptized

Illustration from Emile RIPERT’s book –
With MISTRAL on the roads of Provence

I discovered with emotion the village, its square, its cafes …

I would go for a few moments near the church to give myself courage, and finally, I walked, my heart pounding, towards the small house, which had been indicated to me, as the poet’s.

I pushed open the gate, which was still open, walked around the house, heard the bark of the dogs rushing towards me, and suddenly recalling them with voice and gesture, I saw appear on the threshold the majestic and familiar Poet, such as I had him. dream. I introduced myself; Mistral wanted to remember my poem and the letter he replied to me.

The Lizard house
What we said exactly in this conversation gradually fades into my memory, after more than forty years, nevertheless I remember this trait relating to Alphonse Daudet, whom I naturally admired very much and who I wanted to be a little like, like French writer from Provence.

The Mistral Dining Room

Frédéric MISTRAL
Alphonse Daudet had died in December 1897, so just over five years ago; his memory was still fresh in the heart of the great poet, who had been his friend from his youth.

He told me with emotion his last years, his illness, his suffering:

“I used to say to him sometimes: come back to us, in the good sun that will cure you! He answered me:

Ah! what would they say in Paris?

Hey! Crebo couioun ”
Mistral rudely concluded in his bruised and gruff affection.

Alphonse DAUDET

This is how Emile became a disciple of Mistral with whom he maintained friendly relations from 1901 until his death in 1914.

The versification of Frédéric Mistral 1918
In the spring of 1907, back from Italy, as I was on my way to Paris, I stopped at Maillane. From that time on, Mistral began to take me seriously, not only for my verses, but even more perhaps for the project that I had exposed to him of devoting my doctoral theses to the genesis of Félibrige and his work. He had strongly encouraged me and the following year appointed professor at the Lycée de Toulon, I began in the municipal library and in that of the Escole de la Targo the research which was to lead seven years later to the final drafting of my theses. sure
the Provençal renaissance and the versification of Mistral

The Provençal Renaissance 1918

I have received many letters from Mistral which I keep piously; he gave me precious details of his beginnings with the firmest certainty of memory, and wrote them as neatly as in his early years.

My last visit to Maillane was to take place in the fall of 1912; I remember a setting of yellowing leaves, and the night falling in the square where Mistral accompanied me to the stage coach. She set off with a crash of hooves and bells, the cracking of a whip. The great poet waved me a safe journey, which was to be a sign of farewell.

Maillane square
But for more than a year still I had to correspond with the master, who was kind enough to send me useful information until the end; his last letter dates from January 1914 and the writing is as firm, as crisp as ever; finally as in March I was to give in an evangelical circle of Marseilles a conference on “Mistral, Christian poet”, I had sent to the poet the card which announced it, he addressed to me a few days later a postcard which represented him at foot of the cross which stands at the crossroads of the roads of Maillane, with these simple words which form two octosyllables without rhymes:

“Sias trop brave, au Paradis vaqui que mounte sènso escalo” (you are too good, in Heaven here I am climbing without a ladder …)

Without a ladder, in Heaven in fact, here it was fifteen days later, on March 25, the day of the Annunciation of the Virgin. And since then I have received nothing from him, other than the sometimes feeling of his immortal presence and his fatherly protection.



MISTRAL documentation

1870 – MISTRAL by DAUDET in “Les lettres de mon moulin
March 29, 1909 – Letter from Frédéric MISTRAL to Emile RIPERT
March 9, 1914 – Letter from Frédéric MISTRAL to Emile RIPERT
October 28, 1930 – MISTRAL celebrations in ROME
March 24, 1935 Press articles Homage to Frédéric MISTRAL
25 March 1939 Extract from Emile RIPERT’s speech

September 8, 1941 – Article Emile RIPERT: MISTRAL poet of the Rhône

Inauguration of the Frédiéric MISTRAL Monument – speech Emile RIPERT
An anecdote taken from the manuscript “The poets that I knew


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