Monday, May 5, 2008
The 5th of May: Tribute to the Emperor
Today is the 5th of May. 'Lest we forget', I am posting a quick photograph of a statue of the Emperor based on the famous painting of 'Bonaparte Crossing the Alps'. Violets of Parma are set beneath it. Violets, of course, were the traditional tribute paid to the Emperor by those who loved and believed in him... and one still finds them at his Tomb at Les Invalides. In fact, I laid them there myself whenever I had the opportunity to visit.
For those who may be unaware of the significance of the date, it is, of course, the anniversary of the day on which the Emperor died on the island of St. Helena.
I have not been to Paris for many years, but I did chance upon a house where Napoleon stayed for 7 fateful days in Valletta in Malta. In fact, a plaque on the wall of the building commemorates the most distinguished visitor of all time.
I do not like random individuals in my photographs so I have been obliged to crop the photographs ruthlessly in order to circumvent the view of people reluctant to move out of the way... Nonetheless, one should be able to obtain a fairly decent idea of the Parisi Palace in which the renowned young hero spent a week...
In fact, it is a very fine building in its own right. The long enclosed window balcony, in particular, is characteristic of Maltese urban architecture. Malta in general impressed me enormously. The language is extraordinary, representing a rather unique marriage between two of my own favourite languages, Arabic and Latin. Even were it not for the incredible megalithic sites on the islands, one would have to fall in love with Malta, despite the corruption of the Knights Templar who are responsible for much of its baroque beauty.
It is not Malta, however, but Napoleon who should be remembered on this day. Alas, I have no Napoleon pastries to serve at tea in memory of the Emperor, nor is it likely that I shall be able to find the ingredients for Chicken Marengo today. Nonetheless, I salute him in my heart and soul and I wear the tribute that never leaves my neck: a 40 franc gold Napoleon. It is an unusual coin and personally significant to me in that it was struck for him in his position as 'Re d'Italia' as well as Emperor of the French. There have been few to equal him in the history of this world, for better or worse.