Metro stop- Père Lachaise
Walking down the cobblestone streets. It goes on forever. Stone and angel’s and gothic points. We’re in Paris, but another world; a country all its own. We’re on our way to the grave of Jim Morrison. He died a year before I was even born. As the lead singer of the American band, The Doors, he lived on the edge and pushed the limits.
He moved to Paris to try and escape his rock persona, until his mysterious death only six months later. He was a poet deep down. You can listen to the poetry within his song lyrics. He would write several poetry books that most people do not even know about. I memorized and recited this when I was in the 6th grade:
Shake dreams from your hair
My pretty child, my sweet one
Choose the day and choose the sign of your day
The day’s divinity, first thing you see
A vast radiant beach in a cool jeweled moon
Couples naked race down by it’s quiet side
And we laugh like soft, mad children
Smug in the woolly cotton brains of infancy
The music and voices are all around us
Choose they croon the Ancient Ones
The time has come again
Choose now, they croon beneath the moon
Beside an ancient lake
Enter again the sweet forest
Enter the hot dream come with us
Everything is broken up and dances–Jim Morrison
How fitting to rest among the poet’s, philosophers, and artists. There are many here: Balzac, Bellini, Chopin, Peter Abelard, Maria Callas, Edith Piaf, Pissaro, Oscar Wilde…the list is endless.
If the day was sunny, I cannot recall. The huge walls surrounding the cemetery seemed to lock the sun out. Quietness–no one around, alive. It was spring. It was a Sunday. It took a while for us to find it, but we finally reached his grave. Fenced in and wedged away beside other graves– as if there’s no more room for the dead to be buried here. You can only look from afar.
It’s nothing extravagant. Not what you would expect for a Rock legend. In fact, the only thing that makes it stand out is the bright colors of the flowers that cover it, placed there by admirers.
Still guarded by the cemetery police, due to vandalism of the past. Spray paint pointing to its location used to adorn many of the nearby graves. The actual bust of Morrison, which was created and placed on the grave by Croatian sculptor, Mladen Mikulin, was stolen in 1988.
His estranged parents would finally visit their son’s grave in 1991. They even had a new bronze plaque placed upon it with an ambiguous Greek inscription: ‘kata ton daimona eaytoy’. Some translations say “in accordance with his own spirit,” or “true to his own spirit”.
For years there have been rumors that perhaps Morrison had faked his death. Apparently with no autopsy, and many questions about whether or not a body was ever seen in a coffin, fuel was added to the fire. Once when I was young, I asked a Ouija board where he was and it spelled out Granada. One of the band members, Ray Manzarek would write a book that finds Jim living his last days out in the Seychelles Islands. It could be possible.
As we turned to walk away, and begin our journey back, the cemetery police looked at me and said, “Jim, heez in zee box, no?” I responded with, “No, maybe he isn’t?”