“Sur le pont d’Avignon,/L’on y danse, l’on y danse,/…

Image: Palais des Papes, Avignon.

…Sur le pont d’Avignon/L’on y danse tous en rond.” Chorus to a French song that dates back to the 15th century.

From: The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge (1910), by Rainer Maria Rilke:

“…And while card-playing became the fashion among his courtiers, the King sat in his library and played alone. Just as he now turned up two kings in succession, so too God had recently brought him and the Emperor Wenceslaus together; sometimes a queen would die, and then he would place an ace of hearts upon her, like a tombstone. He was unsurprised to find several popes in the pack; he placed Rome over there at the edge of the table, and here, below his right hand, was Avignon. Rome was of no interest to him; he imagined it to be round, for some reason or other, and left it at that. But he was familiar with Avignon. And scarcely had he thought of it but his memory recapitulated the lofty, hermetic palace and overtaxed itself. He closed his eyes and had to take a deep breath. He was afraid he would have bad dreams that night.

All in all, though, it genuinely was a soothing way of occupying himself, and they were right to keep reminding him of it. Hours spent in this way confirmed him in the opinion that he was the King, King Charles the Sixth…”

From Wikipedia:

The term Hermetic is from the medieval Latin hermeticus, which is derived from the name of the Greek god Hermes. In English, it has been attested since the 17th century, as in “Hermetic writers” (e.g., Robert Fludd).

The word Hermetic was used by John Everard in his English translation of The Pymander of Hermes, published in 1650.

Mary Anne Atwood mentioned the use of the word Hermetic by Dufresnoy in 1386.

The synonymous term Hermetical is also attested in the 17th century. Sir Thomas Browne in his Religio Medici of 1643 wrote: “Now besides these particular and divided Spirits, there may be (for ought I know) a universal and common Spirit to the whole world. It was the opinion of Plato, and is yet of the Hermeticall Philosophers.” (R. M. Part 1:2)

Hermes Trismegistus supposedly invented the process of making a glass tube airtight (a process in alchemy) using a secret seal. Hence, the term “completely sealed” is implied in “hermetically sealed” and the term “hermetic” is also equivalent to “occult” or hidden.”


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