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Macron rejects petition to move Rimbaud to French Pantheon


Agence France-Presse

Paris, France  /  Sun, January 17, 2021  /  01:30 pm
 Macron rejects petition to move Rimbaud to French Pantheon

This file photograph taken on June 21, 2019, shows the grave of French poet Arthur Rimbaud is pictured at the west cemetery (cimetiere de l'Ouest) in Charleville-Mezieres, eastern France. French President Emmanuel Macron has rejected the idea of bringing Arthur Rimbaud into the Pantheon, respecting the opposition of the poet's family, despite a public petition to that effect, the head of state said in a letter copied to AFP on January 14, 2021. (Agence France Presse/FRANCOIS NASCIMBENI )

The remains of famed French poet Arthur Rimbaud will not be moved to the Pantheon mausoleum despite a campaign to honour him as an artist and symbol of gay rights, French President Emmanuel Macron has decided.

A petition campaign last year backed by a host of celebrities as well as French Culture Minister Roselyne Bachelot called for Rimbaud to be re-buried alongside his lover and fellow poet Paul Verlaine at the monument in central Paris.

In a letter sent  to Rimbaud's descendants and seen by AFP, Macron said he would respect their wishes that the poet's remains stay in his hometown of Charleville-Mezieres in eastern France, where he was buried in 1891.

"I do not want to go against the wishes of the family of the deceased. The remains of Arthur Rimbaud will not be moved," Macron wrote to the lawyer of the family. 

The Pantheon is a memorial complex for great national figures in French history from the world of politics, culture and science.

Other notable literary characters laid to rest there include Voltaire, Rousseau, Dumas, Hugo and Malraux.

Only the president can decide on moving personalities to the former church, whose grand columns and domed roof were inspired by the Pantheon in Rome.

Macron used this authority in 2018 to give Simone Veil, a former French minister who survived the Holocaust, the honor of a final resting place at the monument.

Rimbaud and Verlaine are celebrated for their innovative poetry, but have also become famous for their tempestuous relationship marked by sex, drugs and trouble with the law.

Rimbaud, who authored classics such as "The Drunken Boat" and "A Season in Hell," embraced drugs and alcohol as a stimulus for his prose and explorations of human consciousness.

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