3 Place de la Madelein, Paris, France
|Although in rather poor condition this cabinet photograph offers a very personal window into the past.
The photograph depicts a young officer of the French Fusiliers Marins – Marine Fusiliers. The photograph is
heavily inscribed but lacks the officer’s name. The inscription both front and back was intended for a certain
Mademoiselle Lilli with whom the officer had a romantic connection.
I had the inscriptions translated by a native French speaker and have tried to record them here in everyday
English although as my friend Erik stated it is very hard to do due to the very personal nature of the message.
The front inscription is addressed to Lilli and dedicated to her in remembrance of the years 1908-09.
The rather long inscription on the reverse is a poem of sorts:
Toqué, your friend.
The shortest pleasures in the world
Often make the finest loves
Now the time has come to leave you
And go to where my duty calls
Possibly to my death
So very far away, yet so very much alive
Nomeá, 22 April, 1910
The poem’s title begins with the rather odd “name” Toqué which usually refers to a type hat may actually be a
nick name or term of endearment that Lilli had for her officer. While photograph was taken in Paris it was
inscribed at Nomeá – the capital of French New Caledonia in the South West Pacific. From the poem one would
think that this officer was about to deploy into combat but what his mission may have been is a mystery.