The Spring at Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

When Adam was shamed,

Knowing his nakedness,

Tradition has it that

The first leaf to hand

Came from the fig-tree.


The forbidden fruit

Surely sprang from the same branch:

Knowledge and understanding,

Fruit and leaf from the one tree.


Above the Sorgue's source,

At Fontaine-de-Vaucluse

Stunted fig trees

Cling to the cliff

Which closes the valley,

Rooted in meagre fissures in the rock.


After August has parched

The hills of Provence,

Still water fills the fathomless basin

Where ignorant youths sport bravado

And cavort shamelessly over

Its unplumbed depths.


But each spring it rises to

Its primaeval force,

A torrent of exuberance

Enough to inspire


And every poet,

Scribe and scholar

In his train.

Here his thoughts, tightly coiled

Around the image

Of Laura de Noyes,

Were slaked,

And flowered into words.


For others too

It is a source for thought,

Free medium to float

Metaphysics with physics,

Sonnets with sermons and theorems.

Words spill over the rocks

Carried in a cavalcade of notes

On the current.


I am glad the fig grows here

Above the river’s source.

And that on its banks

They still press paper –

Rafts for words,

Leaves of understanding

That grow Man

Into more than Adam.


David Matthews

August 2003

Related Pages