The Jackdaw of Rheims

Petit poème de l’époque victorienne ayant pour cadre l’archevêché de Reims… découvert suite à une conversation avec une touriste anglaise qui était fière de me montrer l’aigle derrière le gâble…

Il raconte comment un petit choucas des tours vola l’anneau précieux de l’archevêque de Reims 

The Jackdaw of Rheims

Richard Harris Barham (1788–1845)  

1    The Jackdaw sat on the Cardinal’s chair!

2    Bishop, and abbot, and prior were there;

3      Many a monk, and many a friar,

4      Many a knight, and many a squire,

5 With a great many more of lesser degree,–

6 In sooth a goodly company;

7 And they served the Lord Primate on bended knee.

8      Never, I ween,

9      Was a prouder seen,

10 Read of in books, or dreamt of in dreams,

11 Than the Cardinal Lord Archbishop of Rheims!

12      In and out

13      Through the motley rout,

14 That little Jackdaw kept hopping about;

15      Here and there

16      Like a dog in a fair,

17      Over comfits and cates,

18      And dishes and plates,

19 Cowl and cope, and rochet and pall,

20 Mitre and crosier! he hopp’d upon all!

21      With saucy air,

22      He perch’d on the chair

23 Where, in state, the great Lord Cardinal sat

24 In the great Lord Cardinal’s great red hat;

25      And he peer’d in the face

26      Of his Lordship’s Grace,

27 With a satisfied look, as if he would say,

28 “We two are the greatest folks here to-day!”

29      And the priests, with awe,

30      As such freaks they saw,

31 Said, “The Devil must be in that little Jackdaw!”

32  The feast was over, the board was clear’d,

33 The flawns and the custards had all disappear’d,

34 And six little Singing-boys–dear little souls!

35 In nice clean faces, and nice white stoles,

36      Came, in order due,

37      Two by two,

38 Marching that grand refectory through!

39 A nice little boy held a golden ewer,

40 Emboss’d and fill’d with water, as pure

41 As any that flows between Rheims and Namur,

42 Which a nice little boy stood ready to catch

43 In a fine golden hand-basin made to match.

44 Two nice little boys, rather more grown,

45 Carried lavender-water, and eau de Cologne;

46 And a nice little boy had a nice cake of soap,

47 Worthy of washing the hands of the Pope.

48      One little boy more

49      A napkin bore,

50 Of the best white diaper, fringed with pink,

51 And a Cardinal’s Hat mark’d in “permanent ink.”

52 The great Lord Cardinal turns at the sight

53 Of these nice little boys dress’d all in white:

54      From his finger he draws

55      His costly turquoise;

56 And, not thinking at all about little Jackdaws,

57      Deposits it straight

58      By the side of his plate,

59 While the nice little boys on his Eminence wait;

60 Till, when nobody’s dreaming of any such thing,

61 That little Jackdaw hops off with the ring!

62      There’s a cry and a shout,

63      And a deuce of a rout,

64 And nobody seems to know what they’re about,

65 But the Monks have their pockets all turn’d inside out.

66      The Friars are kneeling,

67      And hunting, and feeling

68 The carpet, the floor, and the walls, and the ceiling.

69      The Cardinal drew

70      Off each plum-colour’d shoe,

71 And left his red stockings exposed to the view;

72      He peeps, and he feels

73      In the toes and the heels;

74 They turn up the dishes,–they turn up the plates,–

75 They take up the poker and poke out the grates,

76      –They turn up the rugs,

77      They examine the mugs:–

78      But, no!–no such thing;–

79      They can’t find THE RING!

80 And the Abbott declared that, “when nobody twigg’d it,

81 Some rascal or other had popp’d in, and prigg’d it!”

82  The Cardinal rose with a dignified look,

83 He call’d for his candle, his bell, and his book!

84    In holy anger, and pious grief,

85    He solemnly cursed that rascally thief!

86    He cursed him at board, he cursed him in bed;

87    From the sole of his foot to the crown of his head;

88    He cursed him in sleeping, that every night

89    He should dream of the devil, and wake in a fright;

90    He cursed him in eating, he cursed him in drinking,

91    He cursed him in coughing, in sneezing, in winking;

92    He cursed him in sitting, in standing, in lying;

93    He cursed him in walking, in riding, in flying,

94    He cursed him in living, he cursed him in dying!–

95 Never was heard such a terrible curse!

96      But what gave rise

97      To no little surprise,

98 Nobody seem’d one penny the worse!

99      The day was gone,

100      The night came on,

101 The Monks and the Friars they search’d till dawn;

102      When the Sacristan saw,

103      On crumpled claw,

104 Come limping a poor little lame Jackdaw!

105      No longer gay,

106      As on yesterday;

107 His feathers all seem’d to be turn’d the wrong way;–

108 His pinions droop’d–he could hardly stand,–

109 His head was as bald as the palm of your hand;

110      His eye so dim,

111      So wasted each limb,

112 That, heedless of grammar, they all cried, “THAT’S HIM!–

113 That’s the scamp that has done this scandalous thing!

114 That’s the thief that has got my Lord Cardinal’s Ring!”

115      The poor little Jackdaw,

116      When the Monks he saw,

117 Feebly gave vent to the ghost of a caw;

118 And turn’d his bald head, as much as to say,

119 “Pray, be so good as to walk this way!”

120      Slower and slower

121      He limp’d on before,

122 Till they came to the back of the belfry door,

123      Where the first thing they saw,

124      Midst the sticks and the straw,

125 Was the Ring in the nest of that little Jackdaw!

126  Then the great Lord Cardinal call’d for his book,

127 And off that terrible curse he took;

128      The mute expression

129      Served in lieu of confession,

130 And, being thus coupled with full restitution,

131 The Jackdaw got plenary absolution!

132      –When those words were heard,

133      That poor little bird

134 Was so changed in a moment, ‘twas really absurd.

135      He grew sleek, and fat;

136      In addition to that,

137 A fresh crop of feathers came thick as a mat!

138      His tail waggled more

139      Even than before;

140 But no longer it wagg’d with an impudent air,

141 No longer he perch’d on the Cardinal’s chair.

142      He hopp’d now about

143      With a gait devout;

144 At Matins, at Vespers, he never was out;

145 And, so far from any more pilfering deeds,

146 He always seem’d telling the Confessor’s beads.

147 If any one lied,–or if any one swore,–

148 Or slumber’d in pray’r-time and happen’d to snore,

149      That good Jackdaw

150      Would give a great “Caw!”

151 As much as to say, “Don’t do so any more!”

152 While many remark’d, as his manners they saw,

153 That they “never had known such a pious Jackdaw!”

154      He long lived the pride

155      Of that country side,

156 And at last in the odour of sanctity died;

157      When, as words were too faint

158      His merits to paint,

159 The Conclave determined to make him a Saint;

160 And on newly-made Saints and Popes, as you know,

161 It’s the custom, at Rome, new names to bestow,

162 So they canonized him by the name of Jim Crow!


1]In 1840 this poem was incorporated into the first series of The Ingoldsby Legends.

50]diaper: fabric woven in a continuous repeated pattern.

80]Twigg’d: colloquial, “observed.”

81]prigg’d: colloquial, “stolen.”

Publication Start Year: 1837 

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908).  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895.  1895.

Porta Pretiosa

Polychromie à la cathédrale de Reims : vestiges sculptés et polychromes d’une entrée et de la vierge d’un “enfeu” roman. Façade du croisillon nord, rue Robert de Coucy…

Le plus ancien des portails, la Porta Pretiosa, a été sculpté dans les années 1160-1175.

Au-dessus de l’ensemble, subsistent des restes de fresques figurant jadis le Christ entouré de deux anges (XIIIe siècle)

Aussi appelée “petite porte romane”, elle est au nord et donnait sur le cloître du chapitre. Il est surprenant de voir cet arc en plein cintre sur un édifice de pur gothique, ce qui laisse à croire qu’elle serait un réemploi de la cathédrale précédente, soit d’un ancien tombeau. Entres autres les traces de couleur, j’y remarque une alternance de symboles. Regardons les deux anges qui escortent vers le ciel, l’âme du “défunt” couronné : celui de gauche a les ailes rabattues et pointe d’un seul doigt ; celui de droite a les ailes déployées et pointe deux doigts de sa main.  Regardons les sarments de vignes, à gauche un homme nu, à droite, deux hommes habillés, etc…

Sur le sujet :

Chapelle Rayonnante Nord

Jeanne de France, au nom qui me chante si clair, j’entends sonner ta voix d’argent par le village, là-bas…

Je vois tes yeux de ciel, je vois ta bouche nue, et deux roses de sang fleurir à ton visage de mai.

Et tu ris au soleil avec ta gorge claire comme font les chansons de mésange au village, joyeuses.

Deux colombes d’amour dessus ta gorge nue, et la douceur, et la douceur de ton visage me chantent !

Gaston Foubert “Rêverie devant Jehanne près de la cathédrale de Reims en 1917”. Le Pampre n°24, 1926.

Jehanne au sacre

figure grandeur naturelle 172cm

chœur, chapelle nord (chapelle de Sainte-Jeanne d’Arc), sur l’autel

Statue composite en marbre jaune de Sienne, incrusté de motifs en lapis-lazuli ; armure en bronze argenté ; visage en ivoire ; socle en bronze.
Sur la tunique, un semis de fleurs de lys.

Statue réalisée par Prosper d’Epinay (1836-1914) en deux ans de travail et terminée en 1901 (études dès 1897). Elle a été exposée au Salon des Artistes français en 1902. 

Elle a été offerte au cardinal de Luçon, archevêque de Reims, par la famille Abelé qui en était propriétaire, et bénie lors du triduum solennel célébré en juillet 1909 à l’occasion de la béatification de Jeanne d’Arc.
Elle occupait jadis la place de la cathèdre d’où Jeanne d’Arc a assisté au sacre de CharlesVII.

Le projet d’Imi Knoebel est une composition abstraite dont l’essence repose sur les couleurs fondamentales, bleu, jaune et rouge, en aplats croisés et superposés. Il est la traduction, selon sa propre expression, de l’iconographie des vitraux anciens de la cathédrale « dans un nouveau langage abstrait ». Imi Knoebel ajoute : « Il convient de revenir au langage chromatique d’origine de la cathédrale et de produire une symbiose entre l’ancien et le nouveau. La couleur confère qualité, poids et équilibre. Elle n’est pas dotée uniquement d’une valeur chromatique mais aussi d’une luminance. » 
L’œuvre créée pour Notre-Dame de Reims, haut lieu de l’architecture gothique, reflète la grande tradition de l’art du vitrail en Champagne-Ardenne et poursuit l’invitation faite à de prestigieux artistes

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