Round and Round

The Jardin de Luxembourg's carousel, with its beloved white elephant, at left.

Every time I go to Paris’ Jardin de Luxembourg I have to make sure that it’s there—Rilke’s beloved elephant, going round and round on the park’s carousel, as described in Encyclopedia of the Exquisite.

The wooden carousel, created in 1879, were installed in the park in 1904. Poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) was hypnotized by their whizzing, and while one of his wistful moods, the next year he wrote:

“…And on the lion whitely rides a young

boy who clings with little sweaty hands,

the while the lion shows his teeth and tongue.

And now and then a big white elephant.

And on the horses swiftly going by

are shining girls who have outgrown this play;

in the middle of the flight they let their eyes

glance here and there and near and far away—

and now and then a big white elephant.…”

The last time I was in Paris, you could still ride the carousel and go after the gold ring. If it ever shuts down, please don’t tell me.