La Carte du Tendre

La Carte du Tendre

I never made a map to myself, except through poetry.
I am open country not requiring a guide,
unless one wants to summon flora and fauna by name.
That women needed to explain themselves
through an intricate game could be a difference of centuries
between us or lack of artifice on my part.  Still, there
are stages to this, a protocol for intimacy.

We begin new, travelling the banks,
but there are towns so pleasant
we might lose our way to the goal.
If we do not stay too long
in the villages, avoid the tangled paths to Perfide,
we will own the keys to that city.

The map of this heart is split by the river Inclination,
which spills wide and unfiltered into passions
too salted to drink.  I have charted the twin forks
which lead away from that ocean,
but sink into stone soil.

There are countries we cannot know
if we fear carnality and its razored corals;
La Terre Inconnue heady and hungry
as the open throat of the rose,
yet reefed and thorn-circled
to stop trespass.  This country kisses
La Mer Dangereuse; though I have sailed over
similar oceans and found the water less dangerous
and worth skimming, but I do not fear drowning.

***We are writing about trips (sort of) over at dVerse today.  I thought I would write about “La Carte du Tendre,” a map of the stations of love, which is an antiquated allegory from the 1600’s, attributed to Mlle. De Scudery and others.  If you are interested, you can read about it (sort of) on Wikipedia.

About Susan L Daniels

I am a firm believer that politics are personal, that faith is expressed through action, and that life is something that must be loved and lived authentically--or why bother with any of it?
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62 Responses to La Carte du Tendre

  1. claudia says:

    ha – life is a map that kinda draws itself while we go…being not afraid of drowning is a good thing as it makes us brave to swim these oceans and river and discover new shores..ha..i like…what a cool journey life can be..

    • Claudia–I stumbled over this as it was mentioned in passing in a fascinating poem. Damn, who wrote it? Either way it triggered something in me and I had to write it!

  2. yeoldefoole says:

    a lush and lavish work – with an amazing ending! Susan, this is really wonderful!

  3. cometotimmy says:

    like the carnality and razor and coral part
    and the rose with the open throat

  4. I have never seen La Carte du Tendre before, Susan, fascinating 🙂

    • Thanks, Polly. Me neither, until last night! There is also one to coquetry, etc. What a lot of fun, and so neatly fits with what we are doing at dVerse today, I had to do it!

  5. nelle says:

    Beautifully creative, a wonderful read.

    Meanwhile, the map leaves me feeling it should be burning, with a rousing Western theme playing in the background. 😉

  6. Mary says:

    I enjoyed your whole poem, Susan, starting with you never made a map of yourself except through poetry. Somehow I think that this (for any poet) would be a most detailed map.

    I liked this part:
    “We begin new, travelling the banks,
    but there are towns so pleasant
    we might lose our way to the goal,
    where true friends live”

    To me this meant that sometimes we get a bit lost along the way, momentarily forgetting what/who is important as we savor a beautiful view, but hopefully again we pull ourselves together and head onward to the place we were seeking in the first place!

    • Oh, Mary, that meaning, so beautifully personal and yet at the same time universal, I think fits those lines so well! Thanks for the comment–always love your insights.

  7. brian miller says:

    The map of this heart is split by the river Inclination,
    which spills wide and unfiltered into passions
    too salted to drink….what a cool line that…smiles…some really great lines through out this susan…your close is tight…and love the rhythm of this…

    • Brian, thank you! I read the prompt on Claudia’s site, and said–pfffft, I am not inspired to write about a journey. But then, I read a poem by John Ashbery last night, “Daffy Duck in Hollywood,” that referenced this map, which I had to find out more about. So, here we are. I really had fun on this trip.

      Here’s a link to the JA poem, if you’re interested:

  8. Grace says:

    I too love the part that Mary (see above) quoted ~ I enjoyed the crafting of the journey, to uncharted waters and fearing no one but our own ~ Beautiful ~

  9. welshstream says:

    That is so full of richness and the last stanza is wonderful. It is a poem that will bare several welcome readings to enjoy the full depth. Excellent!

    • Oh my–thank you so much! I really enjoyed tripping over the inspiration for this late last night/early this morning, and am so glad you see the draw. I had no choice but to write this poem after seeing that map.

  10. Uh oh. I went to France today, too, but in an entirely different frame of mind.

  11. ManicDdaily says:

    Such a cool idea for a poem, Susan, and well carried out. I found the last two stanzas especially affecting. Hard to know which fork of inclination is self-indulgence and which leads to something more. Such a sophisticated poem. k.

  12. Laurie Kolp says:

    I love this Susan, especially the third stanza.

  13. Tony Maude says:

    The map of tenderness showing the route to love – and the perils that lie in wait for the unwary. As a man, I think women should explain themselves more; what I understand about them could be written on a post-it with a paint roller!

    • The problem is, we are all such different people–we all need unique maps. I agree that we need to explain ourselves more to each other–says the woman who insisted once she was complex in her simplicity.

  14. Love the idea of being adventerous with no fear. Some travels are worth the risk. Lovely.

  15. I love the map and I’m so happy your nowhere near Lac Indifference… that would have been bad. Your trip sounds like a great one (but scary)

  16. I love the abstract storyline here Susan. I love the ending as well, “but I do not fear drowning” – its loaded with confidence and bravery 🙂

  17. aprille says:

    This is a new one on me.
    What a marvellous idea for a trip.

  18. Love the map and can understand the inspiration for your poem. If the map was drawn today le lac d’indifference would be much much bigger:)

  19. Chazinator says:

    You give us a great map from a nice perspicuous view. That’s often the very hardest thing to do in life, to gain the high ground, and to perceive all the passages that we’ve weathered and borne. Gaining that purview itself is a kind of wisdom. And I think your poem’s tonality and voice sustains itself in that spirit.

    • Thank you so much, Charles. I usually find myself int he thick of things, where it is difficult to gain and perspective at all. Thanks so much for the comment.

  20. Rowan Taw says:

    Stunning! Absolutely fascinating and so beautiful (thanks for the link, I’d never heard of this before).

  21. Truly a gorgeous poem! I’m also one of the ones who was not familiar with this tale, will certainly be looking into it a bit more. 🙂

  22. mobius faith says:

    For me your poetry is a 3-D topographical map. Beautiful to behold and get lost in.

  23. janehewey says:

    really great topic and so well-told. Your final stanza is killer-strong, Susan.

  24. seekingmeme says:

    Susan, you’re really on to something here – when an idea jumps up and grabs you, the idea is in the driver’s seat and we are just along for the ride. What a glorious ride this poem is! You had me from the first sentence! And now I want to study the map a bit further and see where it may lead me…

  25. kkkkaty1 says:

    What can i add it this point? I guess that is speaks to the universality of the map’s meaning and to our need to travel in more ways than one; I especially like the line about the ‘countries we cannot know’…quite the compliment to have your post re-blogged and Googled for wider recognition it deserves.

  26. Susan, this is splendid, masterful, passions to salty to drink? Good god. I must read it again and again.

  27. Patricia Chenai Nyandoro says:

    Loved it! Love it ! Felt like you were talking about me! You are this but be careful I might be that! Misterous poet , woman , friend , mum , individual! But I think I “read” you. La carter du tendre!

  28. hmmmmm – lovely and so expertly done – and the layered readings, so cleverly crafted that each reader, including this freudian attarde, can take something away from this excursion and incursion into territories that courtisan(e)s of centuries before us walked with teasing delice.

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