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part 2–the end is where we start from

What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from.  —T. S. Eliot, Little Gidding

The first thing you notice about New Orleans are the burying grounds–the cemeteries–and they’re a cold proposition, one of the best things there are here. Going by, you try to be as quiet as possible, better to let them sleep. Greek, Roman, sepulchers–palatial mausoleums made to order, phantomesque, signs and symbols of hidden decay–ghosts of women and men who have sinned and who’ve died and are now living in tombs. The past doesn’t pass away so quickly here. You could be dead for a long time.  –Bob Dylan

When you’re dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has sense enough to just dump me in the river or something. Anything except sticking me in a goddam cemetery. People coming and putting a bunch of flowers on your stomach on Sunday, and all that crap. Who wants flowers when you’re dead? Nobody.  –J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye

Let’s begin at the end again.

I like visiting cemeteries.  I say, “Let’s begin at the end again,” because I wrote an earlier post about my visits to Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and Le Cimetière du Montparnasse in Paris.  There I found lovers living buried in death, together.

After a few steps through the main entrance of Le Cimetière du Montparnasse, turn to the right and keep looking to the right as you walk.  Soon you will see flowers and tourists and me.  I am there to pay my respects.  Here is the tomb for John-Paul Sartre and Simone Lucie Ernestine Marie Bertrand de Beauvoir, or more commonly known as Simone de Beavoir(Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

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The story of Heloise and Abelard and their many years apart is a most passionate tale that today can sadly be only found in a poor modern romance novel.

Six hundred years after their deaths, Josephine Bonaparte, the wife of Napoléon Bonaparte, learned of their plight, and ordered that the remains of Abelard and Heloise be entombed together at Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise in Paris. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

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Simon Signoret, a great French film actress and the first French woman to win an Acedamy Award, and Yves Montand, a well known actor and singer, are buried side by side in the Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

Alice B(abette) Toklas and Gertrude Stein, who once told us that “a rose is a rose is a rose,” became a couple from the first moments after meeting. They are buried in the same tomb in Le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. (Click on any photo to see it larger and in more detail.)

If you want to look for Toklas and expect that Alice’s name would be engraved on the tomb, you would be wrong–sort of. Unlike the previous examples of couples who share the space on the face of the tomb, Alice B. Tolklas’s information is on the backside of the marker for Gertrude Stein. Alice, during her life with Stein, lived in the shadow of her more famous friend, and in death she accepts the same fate.

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