Mirèio is named after French Nobel Prize winner for Literature, Frédéric Mistral (8 September 1830 – 25 March 1914) . Tracing his roots in Provençe all the way to the 16th century, Monsieur Mistral dedicated his life’s work to the preservation of the Occitan culture and language.
So devoted was Monsieur Mistral to Provençe that he donated all the prize money from winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1904 to a cultural museum. Monsieur Mistral’s first success came with the writing of Mirèio.
Written originally in the Occitan language, the poem is a story about Mirèio—the daughter of a rich farmer. While out working in the fields, Mirèio fell from a tree but was rescued by Vincen, a humble basket weaver. Although Mirèio’s father took in Vincen and his father, he would not allow a marriage between his daughter and a poor.
Mirèio, forbidden to marry her love, embarks on a pilgrimage through Provençe to reach Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer in order to ask the patron saints of Provençe to change her father’s mind. Alone and on foot, Mirèio journeys through the eternal summer weather of Provençe and falls ill. She is visited by visions of the Saints who urge her to let go of suffering and join them in paradise. She reaches the church at Saint-Maries-de-la-Mer where waiting for her are Vincen and her father, who is too late in giving his consent as Mirèio dies in Vincen’s arms.
While the story revolves around Mirèio’s devotion to her love, the poem takes the reader on a journey of Provençe: through its countryside and coast with the famed sunlight, and the rich traditions and cultures that have been protected by its citizens for centuries.
It is Frédéric Mistral’s own love letter to Provençe.