Macron urged to move Rimbaud, Verlaine to Pantheon

Paris (AFP)

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A group of French artists, intellectuals and politicians on Wednesday urged President Emmanuel Macron to give poets Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine, known for their stormy relationship as well as impassioned verse, the honour of a final resting place in the Pantheon in Paris.

The Pantheon is the memorial complex for France's literary luminaries such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Dumas, Hugo and Malraux as well as other great figures from culture, science and politics.

But their eternal serenity could be ruffled by the arrival of Rimbaud and Verlaine, who are hailed by critics for their innovative poetry but have also become famous for a tempestuous relationship marked by sex, drugs and trouble with the law.

The petition is backed by Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot, although she has not signed it personally, the ministry told AFP.

"It would only be right to celebrate their memory today by bringing them together to the Pantheon, alongside other great literary figures," the petition said.

The signatories include former culture minister Jack Lang, former Paris mayor Bertrand Delanoe, fashion designer Agnes b and theatre director Olivier Py.

"The fact of bringing together these two poets, who were indeed lovers, to the Pantheon would have a significance that is not only historical or literary, but deeply contemporary," said Bachelot in a statement to Le Point magazine.

Only the president can decide on moving personalities to the Pantheon, and Macron used this authority in 2018 to give Simone Veil, a former French minister who survived the Holocaust, and her husband Antoine the honour of a final resting place there.