The cemeteries of Paris III
La Pleureuse: The weeping woman.
A funeral monument featuring a stone or bronze representation of a beautiful woman, often sitting or lying directly atop the tomb, tearfully mourning the passing of the one laid to rest inside.
At some point, the woke revolutionaries will have to come for her too, so unapologetically drenched is she as an archetype in traditional understandings of feminine beauty and the spiritual and emotional profundity of the fair sex.
Until then, though...
She sometimes looks as if she is embracing the tomb, covered in a gauzy veil revealing the graceful shape of her hips, stomach, and breast.
Or she is coiled fetally, her face turned to the side to show her agonized features, her arms before her, the fingers of her hands interlaced delicately and resting on the tomb, in a sublime gesture of broken-hearted prayer.
She is sometimes greenish in hue, her bronze form oxidized by exposure to the elements for more than a century.
The perfect line of her upper arm, and the mesmerizing purity of her neck and shoulders, the curve of her hip and the wave of her hair, so faultlessly reproducing the contours of the female form.
Her feet and toes so painstakingly rendered that you have to shake your head from time to time to break the illusion that she might at some point pause her inconsolable lament and sit up to catch her breath, just for a moment, before returning to the sacred rite she performs. How is she not alive? Did I not just hear her sob?
Sometimes, the pleureuse is not human but angelic, descending to the tomb from the heavens above, her gaze at once austere and maternal, perched watchfully here to attend to her dual task of mourning the dead and aiding the transport of his soul to the awaiting destination.
She adoringly puts the finishing touches on the stone’s etching, or perhaps she is patiently waiting to add the names of the deceased’s family members who will eventually come to reside here, her back and arms exotically streaked by the rains and snows of the years, and her noble gaze forever and lovingly fixed on the stone that will mark the site wherein their mortal forms rejoin the earth.
The singer Dalida became, at her suicide in 1987, her own magnificently modern yet still traditionally ethereal pleureuse, cheating the Reaper to stand radiantly, regally, eternally over the spot where her charnel remains lie. Bolts of light streak forth from behind her, her youth and beauty preserved for as long as stone lasts.
All, anything, the greatest failure imaginable could be redeemed fully and utterly, and a sullied life could be made holy by such a woman weeping at the death of the failed man.
The most ludicrous fool, I am convinced, the most unfortunate and inconsequential wastrel could be raised nearly to the level of the gods by a pleureuse of sufficient spiritual purity and deathless pulchritude.