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Legend of Gonfaron's Flying Donkey

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Our rough translation of the Legend of Gonfaron's Flying Donkey is:

In 1645, on the day of the Saint-Quinis festival, a procession approached the village, and the villagers were asked to clear the way in front of their houses so the statue could be carried past, though the narrow streets.

One villager of bad character refused, declaring that, if the Saint wanted to pass, he had only to fly over.

Some time later, that same villager climbed to the top of the hill with his donkey. The donkey slipped on the loose ground and fell, along with its master, all the way down to the bottom of the ravine. The villagers, seeing the accident as the Saint's vengence, wrote 'Saint-Quinis punished him, the donkey flew.'

From that the town gained the motto: Gonfaron, the land where donkeys fly! It does seem to us that the donkey didn't so much fly as fall, and considering that an âne is really an ass, the bad-character villager really came down the hill on his ass rather than flying. But all that is nit-picking. It's still a great legend.

The original version is:

En 1645, le jour de la fête de Saint-Quinis, on fit à travers le pays une procession et on invita les habitants à nettoyer le devant de leur porte afin de laisser passer la statue et son cortège dans les rue étroites.

Un gonfaronnais de mauvais caractère déclara qu'il ne nettoierait pas et que si le Saint voulait passer il n'avait qu'à voler au-dessus.

Quelque temps après, il grimpa au sommet de la colline, sur son âne. L'âne glissa sur la roubine et dégringola avec son maître jusqu'au fond du ravin. Les gonfaronnais virent dans cet accident une vengeance du Saint et s'écrièrent 'Saint-Quinis l'a puni, l'âne a volé'.

Et de là est né le dicton : Gonfaron le pays où les ânes volent!
Flight of the Donkey - Poem
This poem, written by Jenny in Germanton, North Carolina, USA, was inspired by Gonfaron's Donkey, other legends of "flying Donkeys" and a photograph of 3 special Donkeys racing one another and caught in mid flight. Jenny writes poetry for The Donkey Sanctuary based in Devon, UK.
Flight of the Donkey

Over the gate
And into the air
The Donkeys go flying
The wind in their hair,
They kick up their heels
And pose just right
Like hummingbirds paused
To a flower,
Donkeys catch the open air
In their flight.
Their heads not bowed down
To the land so green
But held forward and upwards
As they float the air stream.
I so want to believe
That the legends are true,
Muhammad flew with a Donkey
Circling lands that were new
Turning thoughts towards sacred
Wheels turning peace,
And Gonfaron's Donkey
Did not stumble and fall
But flew with the grace
Of fabled Pegasus with ease.
Let no one say that Donkeys can't fly!
They run with the clouds if they choose
To give chase
These acrobats of space will carry
You away on their backs
In a Donkey race!


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The story is fascinating. But I also really love this image. There is something about the contrast between the beautifully detailed, and quite artistic wings - and the sturdy, utilitarian (if you can say that about an animal!) donkey. Thanks Jill. (❛ᴗ❛)