|These pages, which I am putting together today, if they were to be a complete evocation of French Catalonia, I feel with humility how insufficient they would be. Of this beautiful ruddy country, where Spain and France mix their colors and their races, here are only a few paintings, a few images, diverse as life itself, collected here and there during a too rapid stay. , and it is also a song of gratitude in praise of the ground and the luminous sky, which formed the great lucid spirit, against which German barbarism struck its formidable war machine on the Marne.
Yes, from now on, whatever the interest and the size of the memories which still rise on all sides, as soon as one traverses this ground marked by so many peoples, one image however dominates, imperious, all the others, already haloed. of a legend, it is that of the calm winner, to which the French Academy has just paid a fair homage, since by saving the independence of France, he also saved the language and consequently all the literature which goes flourish tomorrow.
It is to him that I would have liked to dedicate these pages, but I fear that their poetic fancy sometimes causes austere eyebrows to frown on those eyes which have seen the monster's rush and which, to contain it, have measured its momentum, on those pensive eyes which have also seen while traversing the battlefields, at what price can be bought, alas! the noblest and fairest of victories. So, so that these pages still arrive at their true address, I will take the most charming of intermediaries, and it is you whom I will evoke, girls of Roussillon, whose caps of white tulle imprison in their fine network of hair dark as a Spanish velvet or red like your vineyards in autumn, you, whose swaying groups come and go in the evening under the big plane trees, singing some old Catalan song, you who roll in your musical voice the murmuring freshness of the waters of the Pyrenees, you who, laughing and serious, unite on your dull figures with sparkling eyes all the light of your sky to the austere concern for the toil of the earth, and it is to you that I dedicate them, these humble pages, written by this unknown passer-by who admired you and who loved you without telling you, it is to you that I dedicate them, thinking that one of your like, in the fields of Rivesaltes, was formerly the mother of little Joffre …
Emile Ripert March 1918.