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Copyright, 1915, 

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In the Spring of 1914, I was invited to deliver a series 
of lectures on modem French poetry in Boston during 
the following winter. This book consists of those lec- 
tures, rewritten and arranged for the press. 

It is a strange thing that while so many Americans and 
English repair every year to France, so few of them, in 
either country, realized what a serious and self-sacri- 
ficing people the French were making of themselves, 
before the present war brought the fact to their notice. 
To students of French literature, this was no matter for 
surprise. They imderstood that the earnest and single- 
minded endeavour applied to the arts must have its 
cotmterpart in other branches of the national life. That 
this was the case, is now abundantly proved. We, in 
the English-speaking countries, are asking otirselves how 
we could have so misimderstood the French people. 
But to be misunderstood has been the lot of Frenchmen 
when dealing with Anglo-Saxons from time immemorial. 

The bar of language has something to do with it, un- 
doubtedly. Another reason is the unfortunate attitude 
of our schools and colleges, which always asstmie that 
everything worthy to be called literature, and therefore 
studied, ceased, in every country, a generation or two 
ago. This has prevented the mass of English-speaking 

vi Pftface 

people from realizing that France has just been passing 
through one of the great poetical epochs of her career — 
one of the great poetical epochs of the world. 

It may be argued that during this period she has pro- 
duced no poet of the first order. No poet to rank with 
Homer, or Shakespeare, or Dante. That would indeed 
seem to be true ; but we speak of the time of Wordsworth, 
and Coleridge, and Shelley, and Keats, as being one of 
England's great poetic periods; and we speak of Ger- 
many in the same way, during the time of Goethe and 
Schiller. Beginning with Lamartine and Victor Hugo, 
France has been having a succession of remarkable poets 
for eighty years. The war will end this period, perforce. 
For whatever great poets may arise after the war will 
belong to a new era. So titanic an upheaval as the present 
war must snap the period which preceded it off short. 

It seems a fitting moment then, to stop and take our 
bearings ; and it seems a fitting moment to introduce 
to those English-speaking readers not already familiar 
with them the last poets of an era just closing. 

The poets I have chosen for this volume belong to the 
generation immediately succeeding that of Verlaine and 
Mallarm^. They are, with the exception of one, all 
alive to-day. But they are in no sense to be ranked with 
Us jeunes. They are men of middle age and undisputed 
fame, and, were French taught as it ought to be, their 
names would be household words with us as they are in 
their native land. 

So far, however, ;is this from being the case, that few 
libraries contain all their works, and of the mass of criti- 
cal writings which has sprung up about them, only a 

Preface vii 

scattered volume here and there is obtainable. These 
facts have been brought to my notice again and again, 
and it is because of them that the present volume has 
seemed to fill a need, 

I am farther emboldened by the very kind reception 
which the lectures received, and by the fact that, to my 
knowledge, there is no other English book which covers 
the same ground. Mr. Edmund Gosse's "French Pro- 
files" contains brief critical essays on De R^gnier, Ver- 
haeren, Samain, and Fort, but with no biographic material, 
and does not include De Gourmont or Jammes ; and Mr. 
Vance Thompson's "French Portraits" was written 
fifteen years ago, before some of these poets had produced 
their best work, and makes no pretence at being more than 
a pleasant, anecdotic account of the writers he mentions. 

In the following essays, I have pursued a sUghtly dif- 
ferent arrangement from the one usual in such cases. 
Instead of first giving a biographical account of the man, 
and then a critical survey of his work, I have followed 
his career as he lived it, and taken the volumes in the 
order in which they were written. I have tried to give 
the reader the effect of having known the man and read 
his books as they were published, commenting upon 
them as they came along. The biographies are slight, as 
must always be the case while their subjects are still 
living, but they have been taken from rehable sources. 

I have made no attempt at an exhaustive critical 
analysis of the various works of these authors. Rather, 
I have tried to suggest certain things which appear to the 
trained poet while reading them. The pages and pages 
of hair-splitting criticism turned out by erudite gentle- 

vUi Preface 

men for their own amusement, has been no part of my 
scheme. But I think the student, the poet seeking new 
inspiration, the reader endeavouring to understand another 
poetic idiom, will find what they need to set them on 
their way. 

I have given many quotations — as the best way to 
study an author is to read him — and for the convenience 
of those readers, well versed in French prose but not yet 
fully at home in French poetry, translations of the poems 
will be foimd in an appendix. The translations are in 
prose. Verse translations must always depart somewhat 
from the original, on account of the exigencies of rhyme 
and metre. As my desire was not to make English poems 
about a French original, but to make the French poems 
in the text understandable, I have sacrificed the form 
to the content. The translations are exact, and in every 
case reproduce, as far as is possible in another language, 
the "perfume" of the poem. By reading them, and then 
turning to the original and reading it aloud in French, 
those least versed in the tongue will get an idea of the 
music of the poem, while at the same time understanding 
it. In order not to tease those readers perfectly ac- 
quainted with French, no figures nor asterisks appear in 
the text, but each translation is accompanied by the 
number of the page on which the original is to be found. 

Another appendix contains bibliographies of the works 
of each author and a bibliography of books upon the 
subject, for the use of those who wish to pursue it farther. 

In preparing this volume my thanks are due to M. 
Alfred Vallette, editor of the Mercure de France, for 
courteously permitting me to reproduce the portraits of 

Preface ix 

Emile Verbaeren, Albert Samain, Henri de R^gnier, 
and Francis Jammes, and to quote freely from all books 
published by the Mercure ; to MM. Remy de Gourmont * 
and Paul Fort, for sending me, one a drawing, and the 
other a photograph, for reproduction; to Mrs. Arthur 
Hutchinson (Mile. Magdeleine Garret) for invaluable assis- 
tance and information, — to her intimate knowledge of her 
own language, imerring taste, and trained critical faculty, 
I owe all that I have been able to acquire of the French 
tongue; to Mile. Jeanne Charon, for valuable suggestions 
of technical detail; and to Mr. F. S. Flint, whose wide 
reading and critical articles on modem French poetry in 
** Poetry and Drama " have been of great service to me, 
for lists of books and expert knowledge. 

June 24, 1915. 

* It is with a profound sense of personal loss that I record the 
death of M. de Gourmont on September 27th. The news was re- 
ceived while this book was passing through the press, too late to be 
incorporated in the text. I wish here to express my great admira- 
tion for his work, and my gratitude for an encouragement which 
even under the heavy weight of illness he did not stint to give. By 
his death Prance loses one of the greatest and most sincere artists of 
his generation. 



Emilk Verhasrsn I 

Albert Samain 49 

Remy de Gourmont 105 


Henri de R£gnier 147 


Francis Jammes 211 

Paul Fort 269 

Appendix A: Translations 327 

Appendix B: Bibliography 467 



£mile Verhaersn Frontispiece 


Albert Samain 49 

Remy de Gourmont 105 

Henri de Rix^NiER 147 

Francis Jammes 211 

Paul Fort 269 




Ween I planned this book, I realized that the 
name of Emile Verhaeren would be the best known 
of my group of six French poets. And I felt that 
I had a right to include him among French poets 
since he wrote in French. Now, the name of 
Emile Verhaeren is not only the best known name of 
my group, but a very well known name indeed. 
Newspapers and mag£Lzines are full of his fame, 
various publishers are issuing translations of his 
poems, and a translation of a German biography 
of him appeared a year ago. But the most impor- 
tant thing which time has effected in his regard is 
to divorce him forever from the stream of French 
literature. He ranks now, not only as the prophet 
of a new era, but as the authentic voice of a dead era. 
The Belgium he portrays has been devastated by 
war, and so completely crushed that at the moment 
it can hardly be said to exist. And even if in time 
the invaders are driven out, and Belgium is able 
to continue herself politically, it will be long before 

Six French Poets 

she will have leisure to devote her energies ag^ii t 
the arts. When that time does come, we may be 
very sure that it will be a different civilization with 
which the arts will have to deal. The pathetic 
splendour of circumstance, therefore, must always 
hang over Verhaeren's work, and enhance its natural 
greatness still farther. Future ages will not only 
study him as a great poet, but as an accurate por- 
trayer of life in Belgium before the war. His 
artistic value, for many years at least, is bound to 
be overshadowed by his historic value. He stands 
out as the finest flower of a ruined country, and as 
such can never again be contemplated as merely 
walking step by step with the writers of any other 
country, no matter how great. At present, however, 
the war is still too new to be regarded in this per- 
spective ; to us who are living not only to-day, but 
in such close relation to yesterday, it is enough to 
point out what must be Verhaeren's future position, 
and then return and consider him as he has hitherto 
appeared to our own generation. 

To-day, Verhaeren is a man sixty years old, with 
twenty-three volumes of poems, three volumes of 
plays, and four volumes of prose to his credit. He 
has been writing for over thirty years, and has had 
a great influence upon young writers all over the 
world. It is in this connection which we shall con- 
sider him here. What future work he will do will 
belong to that after-the-war period which we can 

Entile Verhaeren $ 

rally dimly foresee. At the actual time of writing, 
Verhaeren has fled to England, where he has found 
an asylum and sympathetic friends. Vigorous as he 
is, the poems which he may write there will belong 
to a new epoch in his career, and with them future 
students of his work will have to deal. Our con- 
sideration of him ends with the war. 

In understanding Verhaeren, one must first under- 
stand the conditions into which he was bom. 
One of the great interests in his poetry is the 
effect it has had in changing and modifying 
those conditions. In 1868, Hippolyte Taine wrote — 
in his chapter on "The Painting in the Low Coun- 
tries" in his "Philosophy of Art" — "to-day this 
literature hardly exists." Since then, Belgium has 
given us Verhaeren and Maeterlinck, in company 
with a host of lesser writers. Such fecundity is 
astonishing, and has called out a large number of 
volumes devoted to the study of so remarkable a 
phenomenon. And all since 1880, a period of little 
more than thirty years! In his Mouvement Lit- 
tiraire Beige d' Expression Franqaise, M. Albert 
Heumann points out that "a fecund and independent 
literature commonly exists in a country of perfect 
material prosperity, and of an absolute political 
autonomy." That this is true, witness the ages of 
Pericles, the Emperor Augustus, and Louis XIV ; 
the period of the Renaissance in Italy; or the 
England of Elizabeth, Queen Anne, or George IV; 

6 Six French Poets ' 

and we see the fact again in France at the present 

Since 1831, when Belgium forced herself upon the 
Powers as a separate nation and elected a king to 
suit herself, she has enjoyed extraordinary prosperity. 
The enormous energy of the people has developed 
their unusual natural facilities to the fullest extent. 
There are the coat fields in the Boisinage district 
near Mons, and in the neighbourhood of Li^e. 
There are iron mines, and iron and steel works, at 
Charleroi and Li6ge. There are quarries of marble, 
granite, and slate. Ghent is the capital of a vast 
textile industry ; and lace is manufactured all over 
the country, Brussels point being famous throughout 
the world. But this is not all, Belgium carries on 
(or, alas ! carried on) an enormous commerce. 
Antwerp is one of the lai^est and most important 
ports in the world. And again, this is not all, for 
Belgium is an agricultural country chiefly, and 
where everything is on so superlative a scale, 
"chiefly" means a great deal. In fact, it has 
about six and one-half millions of acres under cul- 
tivation. In this little bit of a country, less than 
half as big as the state of Maine, such an acreage 
is enormous. 

But side by side with this booming modernism 
lives the other Belgium — mystic, superstitious — 
where moss-grown monasteries stand beside sluggish 
canals, and the angelus rings across flat, wind-blown 

Entile Verkaeren 7 

fields. Belgium is a strange mixture of activities, 
races, and opinions, Roman Catholics and Socialists 
dispute for control of the government, and authors 
write and publish in German and French, some 
fanatics even insist on doing so in Flemish, and 
agitate to have Flemish taught in the schools, a 
desire with which the Celtic movement in Ireland 
has made us familiar. 

In the little town of SaJnt-Amand in East Flan- 
ders, southwest of Antwerp and east of Ghent, on 
the river Escaut, Emile Verhaeren was born on the 
twenty-first of May, 1855. His father, Gustave 
Verhaeren, was the son of a cloth merchant of 
Brussels. His mother was a Mile. Debock, a na- 
tive of Saint-Amand, where her brother was pro- 
prietor of an oil plant. And presumably Gustave 
Verhaeren chose to live in Saint-Amand on account 
of his wife's connecrion in the country. The Ver- 
haerens were probably of Dutch extraction, but the 
Debocks were certainly French (some centuries 
before, it is needless to say, as both families can be 
traced to different parts of Belgium in the eighteenth 
century) . Curiously enough, only French was 
spoken in Gustave Verhaeren's household, and the 
servants all came from Li6ge. Emile Verhaeren has 
never known Flemish, although he took some lessons 
in it from the schoolmaster in the vill^e, when he 
was seven years old. 

Saint-Amand stands in a country of wide hori- 

Six French Poets 

zona, where windmills stretch out their anns to the 
sky, and broad clouds sweep over it, trailing their 
shadows on the flat plain below. It is a grey, 
northern country, of fogs and strong winds. All ] 
these things impressed themselves upon the little ' 
Verhaeren's brain, and became a natural part of his 
consciousness, and the objects of his greatest love. 
As the boy Constable is said to have grown familiar 
with clouds, and to have acquired a love for them, 
in tending his father's windmill, so the boy Ver- 
haeren must have got his knowledge of weather and 
skies while wandering along the level, paved roads 
of East Flanders, buffeted by the wind and washed 
by the sun. or while lying in bed listening to the 
rain splash on tiled roofs, and patter against the 
shutters. His poems are full of weather. They 
are almost a "line-a-day" book of temperatures and 
atmospheres. Take this of a violent wind, for in- 
stance : 

Un poing d'efFroi tord les villages ; 

Les hauts clochers, dans les lointains, 

Envoient I'^cho de leurs tocsins 
Bondir de plage en plage. 

or this, of a gentle one : 

Le vent chant, le vent babille 
avec pinsDD, tarin, moineau, 
le vent sifBe, brille et scintille 
k le pointe des longs roseaux. 

Emile Verhaeren g 

le vent se noue et s'entrelace et se d^noue 
et puis, soudain, s'enfuit jusqu'atix vergers luisants, 
1^-bas, oiX les pommiers, pareils k des paons blancs, 
— nacre et soleil — ltd font la roue. 

Take this, of clouds : 

Et Septembre, li-haut, 

Avec son del de nacre et d'or voyage, 

Et suspend sur les pr6s, les champs et les hameaux 

Les blocs ^tincelants de ses plus beaux nuages. 

Or this, of a little river : 

L'entendez-vous, I'entendez-vous 
Le menu flot sur les cailloux ? 

II passe et court et glisse, 
Et doucement dddie aux branches, 
Qui sur son cours se penchent, 

Sa chanson lisse. 

Gustave Verhaeren, his wife and little son, lived 
in a cottage of their own, with a garden blazing full 
of flowers. Behind it stretched the fields of yellow 
wheat, and close beside it ran the slow river. In 
one of his last books, Verhaeren has described his 
childhood. He tells us how he played in the great 
bams, and climbed steeples, and listened to the 
maids singing old Flemish songs at their washing. 
He describes himself sitting with the watchmaker 
and marvelling at the little wheels of the watches, 

10 Six French Poets 

and standing on the bank of the river and looking 
at the heavy cargo boats sail by, 

Je me souviens du village pres de I'Escaut, 
D'oCi Ton voyait !es grands bateaux 
Passer ainsi qu'un rtve empanach^ de vent 
Et merveiUeux de voiles. 
Le soir en cortege sous les 6toiles. 

By and by, he was sent to school in Brussels for 
two years, at the Institute Saint Louis; and when 
he was thirteen or fourteen, he entered the Jesuit 
College of Sainte-Barbe in Ghent. Here, a few i 
years later, came Maeterlinck also, but whether the 
boys met there I have not been able to find out. 

It had been decided in the family that Emile 
should enter his uncle's oil works, and succeed to 
the business. In the pleasant way of families from 
time immemorial, this had apparently been arranged 
without consulting Emile's wishes in the matter. 
At twenty, the boy had finished his college course, 
and he did come back to Saint-Amand and go into 
the oil works for a year. But the life was most 
distasteful to him ; he needed to see the world, to 
measure himself intellectually with other young 
men, and there is no reason to suppose that he 
showed the slightest taste or ability for business. 
In order, however, to find some plausible reason for 
his dislike of the work, he pleaded to be allowed to 
study law. Whether he had tried writing at this 

Entile Verhaeren 

period and felt any desire to become a poet, I do not 
know. But to persuade a practical father and 
uncle to consent to his giving up a lucrative business 
in order to become a poet, would not be a simple 
task. And certainly in asking to become a lawyer, 
Emile stood more chance of having his wish granted. 

It was granted. And young Verhaeren left home 
^ain to study law at the University of Louvain. 

At Louvain, Verhaeren really did study law, 
strangely enough, and was graduated in r88r. But 
he did many other things also. He danced at 
Kermesses, drank beer, got drunk, and generally 
overdid things with the true Flemish ardour, whether 
for work or play. Among his fellow students there 
were various other tentative poets. Together they 
got up a little paper called La Semaine, and Ver- 
haeren published several pieces in it, under the 
pseudonym of "Rodolph." That various of the 
traits which later distinguished the work of this 
new generation of Flemish writers were already in 
evidence, is apparent from the fact that the paper 
was suppressed by the University authorities in 
l88i, fifteen months after its foundation. 

Here was Verhaeren, a full-fledged barrister, enter- 
ing the office of Edmond Picard in Brussels. But 
his heart wets not in the work, and he conducted the 
one or two quite unimportant cases he had to plead 
so half-heartedly, that MaJtre Picard, himself, 
advised him to give up the law. 


Six French Poets 

During this time, an intellectual ferment had been 
going on in the young poet. Brought up as a 
Roman Catholic, educated in a Jesuit college, he 
had been ardent and devout. Yet, even then, the 
Jesuits had failed to persuade him to become a 
priest. Now, with every year, his zest for living 
grew, his mind expanded and dared, and Catholidsm 
dropped away from him forever. The mystic ade 
of the Flemish character was to show itself in quite 
a different form, and only much later. 

In Brussels, Verhaeren found a set of young men, 
eager like himself, anxious to stamp themselves into 
literature. Zola's realistic novels were just begin- 
ning to be discussed in Belgium, and Camille Le- 
monnier was the interpreter of this new naturalism. 
And just as a whole generation of younger writers 
in France adopted Zola's theories, so did they attract 
the younger writers of Belgium, And really the 
protest was necessary to down that long set of sen- 
timental hypocrisies known in England as " Victo- 
rian." For France and Belgium had their "Vic- 
torian" periods, too, although under different names. 

In order to flaunt the banner of free, realistic art, 
with no taboos (as the current slang of the reviews 
calls it), a remarkable and intelligent young man, 
Max Waller, poet and writer of short stories, got 
up a review entitled La Jeune Belgique. In its 
effect on Belgian letters, this review has been com- 
pared to the Mercure de France and its place in 


Entile Verkaeren 13 

French literature. The early death of the founder 
of La Jeune Belgique kept it from becoming the 
world-famous periodical it might have been. While 
it existed, it gave an opening for many remarkable 
young men, among others, Verhaeren. 

'A pleasant anecdote is told of him at this time, 
how one rainy day he clumped into Lemonnier's 
lodgings (never having met Lemonnier, by the way), 
and blurted out, "Je veux vous lire des vers!" 
And what he read was the manuscript of his first 
book, Les Flamandes. 

Lemonnier encouraged him, criticised him, and, 
shortly after, the book was published. Then the 
storm broke, and howled about Verhaeren, The 
book was strong, vivid, brutal. It was as violent, 
as coarse, as full of animal spirits, as the pictures of 
Breugel the Elder, Teniers, or Jan Steen. As one 
of the critics said, "M. Verhaeren pierced like an 
abscess," The critics were horrified, his own quite 
orthodox family was deeply shocked. The battle 
waged furiously. All those adherents of the old 
order of sentimental idealization fell upon the book, 
and in the columns of L'Europe Lemonnier strongly 
defended it. 

And really it is a startling book, written with a 
sort of fury of colour. The red, fat flesh tints of 
Rubens have got into it, and the p^es seem hot 
and smoky with perspiration. The desire to paint 
seems engrained in the Flemish character; M. Heu- 


Six French Poets 

man declares that all Belgian writers, whether of 
poetry or prose, are painters. But, also, it must 
not be forgotten that they are Flemish painters, 
and their palettes are hot and highly coloured. In 
his poem. Les Vieux Matlres, Verhaeren speaks of 
these old masters as painting "les fureurs d'estomac, 
de ventre et de d^bauche." The description applies 
equally well to his own poems in this book. They 
are marvellously done, blazing with colour and bla- 
tant with energy. 

Metrically, Les Flamandes is not particularly in- 
teresting, being written in the ordinary French 
alexandrine. The interest of the book lies in its 
treatment of subjects. Many of the most remark- 
able poems must be read in their context, but there 
is a series of interiors, little Flemish genre pictures, 
which show the vivid style in which the whole is 
written. This is one of them : 


Le seuil de la cuisine ^tait vieu:t et fendu. 
Le foyer y brillait comme une rouge flaque, 
Et ses flammes, mordant incessamment la plaque, 
Y rongeaient un sujet obscene en fer fondu. 

Le feu sVjouissait sous le niant«au tendu 
Sur lui, comme I'auvent par-dessus la baraque, 
Dont les clairs bibelots en bois, en cuivre, en laque, 
Cr^pitaient moins aux yeux que le brasier tordu. 

Entile Verhaeren 15 

Les rayons s'^chappaient conune tm jet d'^meraudes, 
Et, ci et 1^, partout donnaient des chiquenaudes 
De dartfi vive aux brocs de verre, aux plats d'^mail. 

A voir sur tout relief tomber des 6tincelles, 

On eflt dit — tant le feu s'^miettait par parcelles — 

Qu'on vannait du soleil h travers im vitrail. 

Notice how wonderfully bright and sparkHng it all 
is, — " the snapping of light in the glasses" and the 
fire " crumbling itself into sparks." How excel- 
lently the word "crumbling" gives the up and 
down effect of firelight ! 

Les Flamandes appeared in 1883, and it was not 
until 1886 that Verhaeren's next book, Les Moines, 
published by quite a different firm, came out. Why 
Verhaeren changed his publisher, we do not know. 
Why he changed his whole manner of writing can be 

I have said that the Flemish character is made 
up of two parts, one composed of violent and brutal 
animal spirits, the other of strange, unreasoning 
mysticism. This is shown by the fact that along 
the line of material prosperity the Belgians have 
advanced with leaps and bounds, while on the line 
of abstract ideas, of philosophical or scientific en- 
lightenment, they have contributed almost nothing 
to the world. Their aspirations toward a broader 
point of view led them only to the Utopia of the 

i6 Six French Poets 

materialistic socialist. Verhaeren himself, with all 
his effort and achievement, can never quite free 
himself from the trammels of the material. Because 
the idealistic side of the Belgian mind is feeble and 
poor, and cannot get along without the swaddling 
clothes of superstition, Belgian mysticism is charm- 
ing, poetic, but — gets us nowhere. 

Whether Verhaeren wrote Les Moines to satisfy 
the need of expression for this gentler side of his 
nature, whether his painter's eye was fascinated by 
the pictorial value of old monasteries and quiet 
monks, or whether he wished to prove to the world 
that he could do things that were not violent, it is 
impossible to say. None of his biographers has 
suggested the last reason. Presumably they would 
consider it beneath him, but 1 see no cause to sup- 
pose so great a man as Verhaeren to be in any way 
inhuman. And certainly to show the world that he 
has more than one string to his lute is a very natural 
desire in a young poet. 

Les Moines is a sad book, a faded book. The 
monasteries are here, but bathed in the light of a 
pale sunset. As a boy, Verhaeren used often to go 
to the Bemhardine Monastery at Bornhem with his 
father. In order to renew his impressions of cloister 
life before writing this book, he passed three weeks 
at the monastery of Forges, near Chimay, and much 
of the book was written there. 

There is nothing in Les Moines to detain us here. 

Emile Verhaeren 

It is a book of delicate etchings, pensive and melan- 
choly, and a^ain written in French alexandrines. 
In this book, more than in Les Flamandes, Verhaeren 
seems to be feeling his way. 

Then Verhaeren broke down. He had travelled 
a great deal, had been to France, Germany, Spain, 
and England. That he had been overdoing, over- 
thtnking, is obvious. At any rate, he succumbed to 
what seems to have been a bad attack of nervous 
prostration, with gastric complications. Herr Zweig, 
in his exhaustive biography, spends a great deal of 
time in telling us how he had to have the door-bell 
taken off because he could not bear its ringing, and 
how the people in the house had to go about in felt 
slippers. Herr Zweig is delighted with Les Soirs, 
Les Deb&cles, and Les Flambeaux Noirs, published 
respectively in 1887, 1888, and 1890, because he 
considers them so remarkable a portrayal of an 
unusual state of mind, and says they must be 
"priceless to pathologists and psychologists." I 
suspect that if Herr Zweig lived in America he would 
not be so interested in the description of what is to 
us quite a common occurrence. I do not suppose 
there 15 a person who will read these lines, who has 
not either been there himself or had a friend who has. 

That Verhaeren should have written three books 
during his illness is not surprising. Writers alwaysj 

(write, no matter how ill they are. With them it is ' 
so natural a function that it tires them less than to 

l8 Six French Poets 

do anything else. I could adduce a host of examples 
to prove this point, but two will do : Francis Park- 
man and Robert Louis Stevenson. 

I will quote two poems from Les Soirs, not be- 
cause of their interest to the pathologist and psy- 
chologist, but because they are such remarkable 
pictures, and because they show that wedding of 
sound to sense which is to become one of Verhaeren's 
most characteristic powers. 

Et ce Londres de fonte et de bronze, mon ftrae. 
Oil des plaques de fer claquent sous des hangars, 

Oil des voiles s'en vont, sans Notre- Dame 
Pour £taile, s'en vont, lA-bas, vers les hasards. 

Gares de suie et de fum^e, oii du gaz pleure 

Ses spleens d'argent lointain vers des chemins d'liclair, 

Oix des hitea d'ennui bMllent k llieure 
Dolente imraens^nient, qui tinte k Westminster. 

Et ces quais infinis de lantemes fatales, 

Parques dont les fuseaux plongent aux profondeurs, 

Et ces marins noy&, sous les p^tales 
Des fleurs de boue ofi la flamme met des iueurs. 

Et ces ch£lles et ces gestes de femmes soflles, 
Et ces alcools de lettres d'or jusques aux toits, 

Et tout k coup la mort, parmi ces foules ; 
O mon ixat du soir, ce Londres noir qui tratne en toi 1 

Entile Verhaeren 


See how long and slow the cadence is, and the heavy 
consonants make the poem knock and hum Uke the 
Westminster bells he mentions. It almost seems as 
though Big Ben must have been striking when he 
wrote the poem. 

This intermixture of sound with pure painting is 
one of Verhaeren's most remarkable traits. In this 
next poem, Le Moulin, we have another sombre 
landscape, but the whole movement is different; 
from the first line we are conscious of sound, but it 
is no longer the insistent beating which underlies 
Londres; it is a sort of sliding, a faint, rushing noise. 
Anyone reading the first stanza aloud cannot fail 
to be conscious of it. It is this presence of sounds/ 
in his verse, quite apart from the connotations ofj 
his words, which gives Verhaeren's work its strange,! 
magic reality, and makes it practically impossible to I 

Le moulin toume au fond dusoir, trSs lentement, 
( Sur un ciet de tristesse et de melancolie, 
II toume et toume,._et sa voile,' couleur de lie. 
Est triste et faibie et lourde et lasse, i 

..Depuis I'aube, ses bras, corame des bras de pliuntc, 
Se sont t«ndus et sont tombfe ; et les voici 
Qui retombent encor, li-bas, dans I'air noirci 
Et le silence entier de la nature Steinte. 

Six French Poets 

Un jour souffrant d'hiver sur les hameamt s'endoit, 
Les nuages sont las de leurs voy^es sombres, 
Et le long des taillis qui ramassent leurs ombres, 
Les orniSres s'en vont vers uti horizon mort. 

Autoui d'un paie Stang, quelques huttes de hetre 
Trts mis^rablenient sont assises en rond ; 
Une lampe de cuivre est pendue au plafond 
Et patine de feu le mur et la fenStre. 

Et dans la plaine immense, au bord du dot dormeur, 
Elles fixent — les trfa soufEreteuses bicoques I — 
Avec les pauvres yeux de leurscarreauxen loques, 
Le vietu moulin qui tourne et, las, qui toume et meurt. 

Before we leave these three books, I want to give 
one more poem. La Morte, which is a sort of end 
dedication to Les Flambeaux Noirs. Here, at last, 
Verhaeren begins to use that extraordinary vers lihre 
for which he is afterwards to be so noted. Some 
poets seem capable of expressing themselves per- 
fectly in the classic alexandrine, some can use both 
old and new forms according to the content of the 
poem. Verhaeren's intimate friend, Henri de R6- 
gnier, is remarkable for this. But the alexandrine 
has never seemed to fit Verhaeren. His tumultuous 
nature seems cramped by its limitations. Figure 
the "Siegfried Idyl" played by an orchestra of flutes, 
and harps, and tambourines, and you will see what 

Emile Verhaeren 21 

I mean; or imagine Schumann's "Phantasie, Op. 
17" spiritedly executed upon the harpsichord! 

Verhaeren's vers libre is always rhymed. And in 
a language so abounding in rhyme as the French, 
that is no handicap to the free poet. Not only does 
Verhaeren use end rhymes, he cannot resist the joy 
of internal rhymes. But I am anticipating, for in 
La MartCf as you will see, there are very few internal 
rhymes, although his fondness for alliteration and 
assonance b^ns to be noticeable. For the rest. 
La Marte is a beautiful, foggy picture, sad, but with 
a kind of sadness which is already banning to 
enjoy itself in a sombre sort of way. In other words, 
Verhaeren is beginning to get well, but he is not 
quite willing to admit it yet. 


En sa robe, couleur de fiel et de poison, 
Le cadavre de ma raison 
Tratne sur la Tamise. 

Des ponts de bronze, od les wagons 
Entrechoquent d'interminables bruits de gonds 
Et des voiles de bateaux sombres 
Laissent sur elle, choir leurs ombres. 

Sans qu'une aiguille, ^ son cadran, ne bouge, 
Un grand befiEroi masqu6 de rouge 
La regarde, comme quelqu'un 
Immens^ment de triste et de d6funt. 

Six French Poets 

Bile est morte de trop savoir, 
De trop vouloir sculpter la cause, 
Dans le socle de gronit noir, 
De chaque fitre et de chaque chose, 
Elle eat morte, atrocement, 
D'un savant empoisonnement, 
Elle est morte aussi d'lm d^lire 
Vers un absurde et rouge empire 
Ses nerfs out 6clat^, 
Tel soir iUuminS de fete, 
Qu'elle sentait d^jk le triomphe flotter 
Comme des aigles, sur sa t£te. 
EUe est morte n'en pouvant plus, 
L'ardeuj et les vouloirs moulus, 
Et c'est elle qui s'est tufe, 
Infiniment ext^u^. 

Au long des fundbres muraiUes, 
Au long des usines de fer 
Dont les marteaux tonnent I'&lair, 
Elle se tralne aux fun^railles. 

Ce sont des quais et des casernes, 
Des quais toujours et leurs lantemes, 
Immobiles et lentes Glandidres 
Des ore obscure de leurs lumifires r 
Ce sont des tristesses de pierres, 
Maison de briques, donjon en noir 
Dont les vitres, monies paupi^res, 
S'ouvrent dans le brouillard du soir ; 

Emile Verhaeren 23 

Ce sont de grands chantiers d'affolement, 
Pldns de barques d^mantel6es 
£t de vergues 6cart;el6es 
Stir un del de crucifiement. 

£n sa robe de joyaux morts, que solennise 
Llieure de pourpre k lliorizon, 
Le cadavre de ma raison 
Tratne stir la Tamise. 

EUe s'en va vers les hasards 
Au fond de I'ombre et des brouillards, 
Au long bruit sourd des tocsins lourds, 
Cassant leur aile, au coin des tours. 
Derri^ elle, laissant inassouvie 
La viUe immense de la vie ; 
Bile s'en va vers Tinconnu noir 
Dormir en des tombeaux de soir, 
L4-bas, oti les vagues lentes et fortes ; 
Ouvrant leurs trous illimitds, 
Engloutissent k toute 6temit^ : 

In one line of this poem Verhaeren has given us 
the real cause of his illness. His reason has died, 
he says, " from knowing too much." Or, to para- 
phrase this, his sanity has fled before the vision of 
a more extended knowledge. The mystic and the 
modem man have been struggling within him. It is 
this struggle which has forced so many French poets 
back to the Catholic Church. But Verhaeren was 
made of more resisting stuff. The struggle downed 

34 Six French Poets 

him, but did not betray him. He fell back into no 
open arms ; by sheer effort he pushed himself up 
on his feet. 

I should have said that for some reason or other, 
Verhaeren spent most of these years of illness in 
London. His biographers im^ne that the fog and 
gloom, what one of them calls the "melancholy 
scenery of industrial cities," was in harmony with 
his mood. Perhaps this is true, and if so I think 
we are right in believing that his state of mind had 
more to do with his illness than the poor digestion 
to which It is usually attributed. However that 
may be, Verhaeren got better. He came out of his 
illness, as is usually the case with strong people, a 
sane, more self-reliant man. He left the obscurity 
of London side streets to plunge into the stream of 
active life in the cities of his native Belgium. 

In 1891, Verhaeren published two volumes of 
poems, with two different publishers. One, Les 
Bords de la Route, is a collection of poems written 
at the time of Les Flamandes and Les Moines; the 
other, Apparus dans Mes Chemins, marks the begin- 
ning of a new epoch. Verhaeren Is feeling the zest 
of life again, but it is a more spiritual zest than 
before, if one can use the term for such a very 
materialistic spirituality. Verhaeren is waking up, 
as it were, like a man stretching his arms, not yet 
fully awake. Saint Georges is probably the best 
known poem of the volume ; it begins charmingly : 

Emile Verhaeren 25 

Ouverte en large Eclair, panni les brumes, 

Une avenue ; 

Et Saint Georges, fermentant d'ora, 

Avec des plumes et des ^cumes, 

Au poitrail blanc de son cheval, sans mors, 


LYquip^G diamentaire 

Fait de sa chute, un triomphal chemin 

De la piti^ du ciel, vers notre terre. 

But it has too few of Verhaeren's peculiar excellen- 
des to be worth quoting in full. As my purpose in 
this book is to show and study each poet's individual 
characteristics, I shall only quote those poems which 
most evidently illustrate them. 

And now we have come to Verhaeren's great 
period ; to the books which have made him the great- 
est poet of Belgium, and one of the greatest poets 
of the world. Les Campagnes HallucinSes appeared 
in 1893, Les Villages Illusoires in 1895, and also in 
1895, Les Villes Tentaculaires. In these three books 
we have all Verhaeren's excellencies in rich profusion. 
Here are the towns, with their smoking factories, 
crowded streets, noisy theatres, and busy wharves ; 
here are the broad, level plains of Flanders starred 
with windmills, the little villages and farms, and the 
slow river where fishermen come. And here are 
painted a whole gallery of trades : cabinet-makers, 
blacksmiths, millers, rope-walkers. We see the 


Six French Poets 

peasants selling everything they possess to follow 
the long, white roads to the city — white tentacles 
for the swallowing city. And weather! In these 
volumes, Verhaeren first shows that remarkable 
series of weather pieces to which I referred in the 
beginning of this essay. Verhaeren had found him- 
self. At a time when France was in the midst of 
Symbolisme; when nature, divorced from 'the pa- 
thetic fallacy', made little general appeal ; when 
every -dayTITe was considered dull, and not to be 
thought about if possible ; — Verhaeren wrote of 
nature, of daily happenings, and of modem inven- 
tions. He not only wrote, he not only sang ; he 
shrieked, and cut capers, and pounded on a drum. 

Writing in French, Verhaeren has never been able 
to restrain himself within the canons of French 
taste. His effervescing nature found the French 
clarity and precision, that happy medium so 
cherished by the Gallic mind, as hampering as he 
would have found Greek artistic ideals had he lived 
several centuries earlier. He must put three rhymes 
one after the other if he felt like it ; he must have a 
couple of assonances in a line, or go on alliterating 
down half a page. There was nothing in his nature 
to make the ideas of the Symbolistes attractive to 
him ; he would none of them. The mysticism of 
which I have spoken modified itself into a great 
humanitarian realization. He believed in mankind, 
in the future. Not precisely (nothing is precise 

Emile Verhaeren 


with Verhaeren), but vaguely, magnificently, with 
all the faith his ancestors had placed in the 

A Frenchman would have felt constrained to put 
some definiteness into these hopes. To give some 
form to what certainly amounted to a religion. 
Verhaeren was troubled by no such teasing diffi- 
culty. He simply burned with a nebulous ardour, 
and was happy and fecund. This is one of the 
reasons why Verhaeren's poetry is so much better 
understood and appreciated by Englishmen and 
Americans — Anglo-Saxons in short — and by Ger- 
mans, than any other French poetry. There is a 
certain Teutonic grandeur of mind in Verhaeren 
which is extremely sympathetic to all Anglo-Saxons 
and Germans. Where the French intellect seems 
coldly analytic and calm, Verhaeren charms by his 
fiery activity. 

One of the devices which Verhaeren employs with 
consummate skill, is onomatopoeia, or using words 
which sound like the things described. {This is at 
once wedded to, and apart from, the sort of sound 
I have mentioned above.) He carries this eff^ect 
through whole poems, and it is one of the reasons 
for the vividness of his poems on nature. 

An excellent example of this is La Pluie from Les 
Villages lUusoires. 

28 Six French Poets 


Longue comme des fils sans fin, la Ipngue pluie 
Interminablement, k travers le jour gris, 
Ligne les carreaux verts avec ses longs fils gris, 
Infiniment, J[aj>luie, 
j^ kmgue pluiej 

Elle s'efBle ainsi, depuis hier soir, 
Des haillons mous qui pendent, 
Au del maussade et noir. 
Elle s'6tire, patiente et lente, 
Sur les chemins, depuis hier soir, 
Sur les chemins et les venelles, 

Au long des lieues, 

Qui vont des champs, vers les banlieues, 

Par les routes interminablement courb6es, 

Passent, peinant, suant, fumant, 

En un profil d'enterrement, 

Les attelages, b&ches bomb6es ; 

Dans les omi^res r^guli^res 

Parall^es si longuement 

Qu'elles semblent, la nuit, se joindre au firmament, 

L'eau d6goutte, pendant des heures ; 

Et les arbres pleurent et les demeures, 

Mouill^ qu'ils sont de longue pluie, 

Tenacement, ind^finie. 

Emile Verhaeren 29 

Les rivieres, k travers leurs digues pourries, 

Se d^onflent sur les prairies, 

Oii flotte au loin du foin noy^ ; 

Le vent gifle aulnes et noyers ; 

Sinistrement, dans Teau jusqu'^ mi-corps, 

De grands bcsufs noirs beuglent vers les deux tors ; 

Le soir approche, avec ses ombres, 

Dont les plaines et les taillis s'encombrent, 

Et c'est toujours la pluie 

La longue pluie 

Fine et dense, comme la suie. 

La longue pluie, 

La pluie — et ses fils identiques 

£t ses ongles systdmatiques 

Tissent le v^tement, 

Maille k maille, de ddniiment. 

Pour les maisons et les enclos 

Des villages gris et vieillots : 

Linges et chapelets de loques 

Qui s'efiGioquent, 

Au long de b&tons droits ; 

Bleus colombiers coU^ au toit ; 

Carreaux, avec, sur letu* vitre sinistre, 

Un empUtre de papier bistre ; 

Logis dont les goutti^res r6gulidres 

Forment des croix sur des pignons de pierre ; 

Moulins plants uniformes et momes, 

Sur leur butte, comme des comes ; 

Clochers et chapelles voisines, 

Six French Poets 

U pluie, 

La longue plule, 

Pendant I'hiver, les 

La longue pluie, avec ses longs fils gris, 
Avec ses cheveux d'eau, avec ses rides, 
La longue pluie 
Dea vieux pays, 
Btemelle et torpide I 

The long sweeping I's of the first stanza give the 
effect of the interminable lines of rain in an extraor- 
dinary manner, and the repetition of 

... la pluie, 
La longue pluie, 
La pluie. 

adds a continuous drawing out, a falling — falling 
— falling — as it were. Even apart from the beauty 
and surprise of the rhymes, the movement of this 

I poem, and its pictorial quality, make it on e of 

-Verhaeren's masterpieces^ 

He has done this same thing in a number of other 
poems in this volume, such as La Neige, Le Silence, 
he Vent. I only wish I had space to give them all. 
Two other poems in this book I cannot pass by. 
They are pictures of village life, full of feeling and 
understanding, and rich in that pictorial sense which 
never deserts Verhaeren. The first one, Le Meunier, 

Emile Verhaeren 31 

is made up of the beauty of terror — terror worked 
up, little by little, from the first line to the last. 
Verhaeren is no mere descriptive poet. Neither is 
he a surface realist. His realism contains the psy- 
chologic as well as the physiologic. Spadeful by 
spadeful, the earth rattles down on the coffin, and 
with each spadeful the grave-digger's terror grows, 
with the silence of the night, and the gradual per- 
vading, haunting, of the personality of the dead 
miller, all about, till ''the wind passes by as though 
it were someone," and the grave-digger throws 
down his spade and flees. After that, ''total silence 
comes." It is all, and it is enough. 


Le vieux meunier du moulin noir, 
On I'enterra, lliiver, un soir 
De froid rugueux, de bise aigu6 
En un terrain de cendre et de dgute. 

Le jour dardait sa clart^ fausse 
Stir la b6che du f ossoyeur ; 
Un chien errait prds de la fo6se, 
L'aboi tendu vers la lueur. 

La b6che, k chacune des pellets, 
Telle un miroir se d^plagait, 
Luisait, mordait et s'enfon^ait, 
Sous les terres violent^. 
Le soleil chut sous les ombres suspectes. 

32 Six French Poets 

Sur fond de del, le fossoyeuTy 
Comme tin dnorme insecte, 
Semblait lutter avec la peur ; 
La b6che entre ses mains tremblait, 
Le sol se crevassait 
£t quoi qu'il fit, rien ne comblait 
Le trou qui, devant lui, 
Comme la nuit, s'^largissait. 

Au village Ut-bas, 

Personne au mort n'avait prtt6 deux draps. 

Au village Ui-bas, 

Nul n'avait dit une prite. 

Au village Ui-bas, 

Personne au mort n'avait sonn6 le glas. 

Au village Ui-bas, 

Aucun n'avait voulu clouer la bi^re, 

Et les maisons et les chaumidres 
Qui regardaient le cimetite, 
Pour ne point voir, 6taient Vk toutes, 
Volets ferm^, le long des routes. 

Le f ossoyetir se sentit seul 
Devant ce d^funt sans linceul 
Dont tous avaient gard6 la haine 
£t la crainte, dans les veines. 

Emile Verhaeren 33 

Sur sa butte mome de soir, 

Le vieux meunier du moulin noir, 

Jadis, avait vdcu d'accord 

Avec Tespace et T^tendue 

£t le vol fou des tempdtes pendues 

Aux crins battants des vents du Nord ; 

Son cceur avait longuement 6coat6 

Ce que les bouches d'ombre et d'or 

Des ^toiles d^voilent 

Aux attentifs d'^temit^ ; 

Le d6sert gris des bruydres aust^res 

L'avait oem^ de ce myst^ 

Od les choses pour les Ames s'^veillent 

Et leur parlent et les conseillent ; 

Les grands courants qui traversent tout ce qui vit 

Etaient, avec leur force, entr^ dans son esprit, 

Si bien que par son ftme isolde et profonde 

Ce simple avait senti passer et fermenter le monde. 

Les plus anciens ne savaient pas 
Depuis quels jours, loin du village, 
II perdurait, 1^-bas, 
Guettant I'envol et les voyages 
Et les signes des feux dans les nuages. 

U effrayait par le silence 

Dont il avait, sans bruit, 

Tiss6 son existence ; 

n eff rayait encor 

Par les yeux d'or 

De son moulin tout k coup dairs, la nuit. 


34 Six French Poets 

Et peisonne n'aurait oonim 
Son agonie et puis sa mort, 
N'6taient que les quatre ailes 
Qu'il agitait vers rinconnu, 
Comme des suppliques dtemelles, 
Ne s'dtaient, un matin, 
Ddfinitivement fix6es, 
Noires et immobilis6es, 
Telle une croix sur un destin. 

Le fossoyeur voyait Tombre et ses houks 

Grandir comme des f oules 

Et le village et ses closes fenfttres 

Se fondre au loin et disparattre. 

L'universelle inquietude 
Peuplait de cris la solitude ; 
En voiles noirs et bruns, 
Le vent passait comme quelqu'un ; 
Tout le vague des horizons hostiles 
Se pr6cisait en fr61ements f dbriles 
Jusqu'au moment oCl, les yeux fous, 
Jetant sa b6che n'importe o^, 
Avec les bras multiples de la nuit 
En menaces, demure lui, 
Comme un larron, il s'encourut. 

Le silence se fit, total, par T^tendue, 
Le trou parut gdant dans la terre fendue 
Et rien no bougea plus ; 

Emile Verhaeren 35 

£t seules les plaines inassouvies 

Absorbdrent, en leur immensity 

D'ombre et de Nord, 


Dont leur myst^ avait illimit^ 

£t exalt6 jusques dans Tinfini, la vie. 

Very different is Les Meules Qui BrUlenL A 
splendid impressionist picture, with the burning 
hay-ricks starting up, one after the other, out of the 


La plaine, au fond des soirs, s'est allumde, 
Et les tocsins cassent leurs bonds de sons, 
Aux quatre murs de lliorizon. 

— Une meule qui briile I — 

Par les sillages des chemins, la foule, 
Par les sillages des villages, la foule houle 
Et dans les cotirs, les chiens de garde ululent. 

— Une meule qui br^e I — 

La flamme ronfle et casse et broie, 
S'arrache des haillons qu'elle d^ploie, 
Ou sinueuse et virgulante 
S'enroule en chevelure ardente ou lente 

36 Six French Poets 

Puis s'apaise soudain et se d^tache 
Et ruse et se d^robe — ou rebondit encor : 
Et void, dairs, de la boue et de Tor, 
Dans le del noir qui s'empanadie. 

— Quand brusquement une autre meule au loin s'allume I — 

Elle est immense — et comme tm trousseau rouge 

Qu'on agite de stilfureux serpents, 

Les f eux — ils sont passants sur les arpents 

Et les fermes et les hameaux, oCl bouge, 

De vitre k vitre, un caillot rouge. 

— Une meule qui briile I — 

Les diamps ? ils s'illimitent en frayeurs ; 

Des frondaisons de bois se Invent en lueurs, 

Sur les marais et les labours ; 

Des 6talons cabr^, vers la terreur hennissent ; 

D'dnormes vols d'oiseaux s'appesantissent 

Et dioient, dans les brasiers — et des cris sourds 

Sortent du sol ; et c'est la mort, 

Toute la mort brandie 

Et ressurgie, aux poings en Pair de I'incendie. 

Et le silence apr^ la peur — quand, tout k coup, lii-bas 

Formidable, dans le soir las, 

Un feu nouveau remplit les fonds du cr^puscule? 

— Une meule qui briile I — 

Emile Verkaeren 37 

Aux carrefours, des gens hagards 

Font des gestes hallucin6s, 

Les enf ants orient et les vieillards 

Invent leurs bras d^racin^ 

Vers les flammes en 6tendards. 

Tandis qu'au loin, obstindment silendeux, 

Des fous, avec de la stupeur aux yeux — regardent. 

— Une meule qui briile I — 

L'air est rouge, le finnament 

On le dirait d^funt, sinistrement, 

Sous les yeux clos de ses 6toiles. 

Le vent chasse des cailloux d'or, 

Dans un ddchirement de voiles. 

Le feu devient clametu* hurl6e en flamme 

Vers les 6chos, vers les lA-bas, 

Sur Tautre bord, ot!l brusquement les au-del^ 

Du fleuve s'^clairent comme un songe : 

Toute la plaine ? elle est de braise, de mensonge, 

De sang et d'or — et la tourmente 

Emporte avec un tel 61an, 

La mort passage du finnament. 

Que vers les fins de T^pouvante, 

Le del entier semble partir. 

One strange thing about Verhaeren is his true 
greatness. No matter how onomatopoeic he be-, 
comes, no matter how much he alliterates, or what-/ 
ever other devices he makes use of, he never becomes! 


Six French Poets 

claptrap. Every young poet knows how dangerous 
tEe methods I am speaking of are, with what terrible 
ease they give a poem a meretricious turn, and 
immediately a certain vaudevillian flavour has 
crept in. No matter what Verhacren docs, his work 
remains great, and full of what Matthew Arnold 
calls " high seriousness." The purists may rail, 
that only shows how narrow the purists are, A 
great genius will disobey all rules and yet produce 
works of art, perforce. 

Verhaeren's message has become so much a part 
of our modem temper that we hardly realize how 
new and original it was in poetry twenty years ago. 
Jules Romain in La Vie Unanime has gone Ver- 
haeren one better, but would he have been there at 
all if Verhaeren had not preceded him ? Remy de 
Goufmont, over-subtilized French intellect that he 
is, thinks that Verhaeren hates the groaning towns, 
the lonely villages. Which only proves that even 
remarkable minds have their limitations. A brood- 
ing Northerner, Verhaeren sees the sorrow, the 
travail, the sordidness, going on all about him, and 
loves the world just the same, and wildly believes in 
a future in which it shall somehow grind itself back 
to beauty. Les Villes Tentacuiaires is full of this 
sordidness, a sordidness overlaid with grandeur, as 
iridescent colour plays over the skin of a dying fish. 
But it is also full of the constant, inevitable pushing 
on, the movement, one might call it, of change. 


Emile Verhaeren 39 

One poem from Les ViUes Tentaculaires will serve 
as illustration : 


La rue ^orme et ses maisons quadrangulaires 
Bordent la fotde et Tendiguent de leur granit 
CEill^ de fen^tres et de porches, oCl luit 
L'adieu, dans les carreaux, des soirs aur6olaires. 

Comme un torse de pierre et de m6tal debout, 

Avec, en son myst^ immonde, 

Le coeur battant et haletant du monde, 

Le monument de I'or, dans les t^dbres, bout. 

Autour de lui, les banques noires 
Dressent des lourds frontons que soutiennent, des braS; 
Les Hercules d'airain dont les gros muscles las 
Semblent lever des coffres-forts vers la victoire. 

Le carrefour, d'ot!l il ^ge sa bataille, 
Suce la fidvre et le tumulte 
De chaque ardeur vers son aimant occulte ; 
Le carrefour et ses squares et ses murailles 
Et ses grappes de gaz sans nombre. 
Qui font bouger des paquets d'ombre 
Et de luetu^, sur les trottoirs. 

Tant de r^ves, tels des feux roux, 
Entrem^lent leur flamme et leurs remous, 
De haut en bas, du palais fou ! 
Le gain coupable et monstrueux 

L'aprfe-midi, k tel moment. 
La fiSvre encore augmente 
Et p6n6tre le monument 
Et dans les murs fermente. 
On croit la voir se raviver au. 
Immobiles, comme des hampes, 
Et se couler, de rampe en rampe, 
Et s'ameuter et ^ater 
Et cr^piter, sur les paliers 
Et les marbres des escaliers. 

Une fureur ri5enflammfe 

Au mirage d'un pale esport, 

Monte parfois de I'entonnoir 

De bruit et de fumfe, 

Oil I'on se bat, k coups de vols, en baa. 

Langues stehes, regards aigus, gest«s inverses, 

Et eervelles, qu'en tourbillons les millions traversent, 

Echangent li, leur peur et leur terreur. 

La hate y simule I'audace 

Emile Verhaeren 41 

£t les audaces se d^assent ; 
Des doigts grattent, sur des ardoises, 
L'affolement de leurs angoisses ; 
Cyniquement, tel escompte T^clair 
Qui casse un peuple au bout du monde ; 
Les chim^res sont volantes au clair ; 
Les chances f uient ou surabondent ; 
March^ conclus, marches rompus 
Luttent et s'entrebutent en disputes ; 
L'air briile — et les chiffres paradoxaux^ 
En paquets plains, en lourds trousseaux, 
Sont rejet^s et cahot^ et ballott^ 
Et s'effarent en ces bagarres, 
Jusqu'^ ce que leurs sommes lasses, 
Masses contre masses, 

Tels jours, quand les d6b&cles se d^dent. 

La mort les paraphe de suicides 

Et les chutes s'effritent en mines 

Qui s'iUuminent 

En obs^ques exaltatives. 

Mais, le soir mtoe, aux heures blames, 

Les volont^, dans la fi^vre, revivent ; 

L'achamement soumois 

Reprend, comme autrefois. 

On se trahit, on se sourit et Ton se mord 
Et Ton travaille k d'autres morts. 
La haine ronfle, ainsi qu'une machine, 
Autour de ceux qu'elle assassine. 

Six French Poets 

On vole, avec autorit6, les gens 

Dont lee avoirs sont indigents. 

On ni61e avec I'honneur I'escroquerie, 

Pour amorcer jusqu'aux patries 

Et ameut«r vers I'or tonide et infamant, 

L'univereel affolement. 

Oh I'or I l&-bas, comme des tours dans les nuages, 

Comme des tours, sur I'^tag^ des mirages, 

L'or 6norme ! comme des tours, 14-bas, 

Avec des millions de bras vers lui, 

Et des gestes et des appels la nuit 

Et ta pri^re unanime qui gronde, 

De I'uo i. I'autre bout des horizons du monde ! 

lA-bas 1 des cubes d'or sur des triangles d'or 
Et tout autour les fortunes c^Ubres 
S'^chafaudant sur des a^^bres. 

De I'or ! — boire et manger de l'or ! 

Et, plus f^roce encor que la rage de l'or, 

La foi au jeu myst^rieux 

Et sea hasards hagards et t^n^breux 

Et ses arbitraires vouloirs certains 

Qui restaurent le vieux deatin ; 

Le jeu, axe terrible, oii toumera autour de I'aventure, 

Par seul plaisir d'anomalie. 

Par seul besoin de rut et de folic, 

L^-bas, oil se croisent les iois d'effroi 

Et les suprSmes d&arrois, 

EperdHment, la passion future. 

Entile Verhaeren 

Conune un toise de pieire et de m^tal debout, 

Avec, en son mysttre immonde, 

Le coeur battant et haletant du monde, 

Le monument de I'or dans les t^fibres bout. 

The dramatic intensity of this poem equals that 
of Le Meunier. And this is Verhaeren's third great 
gift; the dramatic. I have already spoken of his 
v isua lizing gift, of his power of reproducing sound 
in words ; the third side of his greatness is the sense 
oLdrama. In spite of the decoration in La Bourse, 
in spite of such lines, beautiful in themselves, as 

I^-bas I des cubes d'or sur des triangles d'or, 
Et tout autour les fortunes ciSlfibres 
S'fcbafaudant sur des alg^bres. 

— beautiful, but painfully prone to stick out of a 
poem like knobs on an embossed wall-paper — the 
poet has managed to keep them in their place, so 
that they do not interfere, but rather add to the 
drama of the whole. 

Verhaeren is not a didactic poet. He does not 
suggest a way out. He states, and hopes, and 
firmly believes; that is ail. And always remember, 
in thinking of Verhaeren's work in the light of his 
philosophy, that he is first of all an artist, a painter, 
and he must always take a painter's delight in pure! 
painting. For those people who prefer a more clear, 
more classic style of poetry, Verhaeren has no charm. 


Six French Poets 

He is nebulous and redundant. His colours are 
bright and vague like flash-lights thrown on a fog. 
But his force is incontestable, and he hurls along 
upon it in a whirlwind of extraordinary poetry. 

Of Verhaeren's life from now on, there is little to 
say. He is a poet, and a poet's life is in creating 
poems. On his return to Belgium, he threw himself 
into active life and was immediately seduced by the 
Socialist doctrines then just being felt in Belgium, 
He seconded M, Vandevelde and others in starting 
a democratic movement, and went so far as to be- 
come a member of the "ComitI de la Maison du 
Petiple." How long he kept up this active life in 
Belgium I have not been able to find out, nor why 
he abandoned it; but now he spends his Winters at 
Saint Cloud, returning to Belgium for the Summers. 
Of course, I mean that was what he did before the war. 

That Verhaeren must have married sometime 
before 1896 is clear, because Les Heures Claires, 
published in that year, is the first of a series of love 
poems, of which Les Heures de I' A prhs-midi, published 
in 1905, and Les Heures du Soir, published in 1911, 
are the other volumes. 

Verhaeren's love story has evidently been tran- 
quil and happy. The poems are very sweet and 
graceful, but it must be confessed not of extreme 
importance. They are all written in regular metre, \ 
which seems almost typical of their calm and un- ' 
original flow. Verhaeren does not belong to the 

Emile Verhaeren 


type of man to whom love is a divine adventure. 
He has regarded it as a beneficent haven in which 
to repair himself for new departures. No biographer 
mentions who Madame Verhaeren was, or anything 
about her, except to pay her the tribute of under- 
standing and cherishing a great man. That she 
has been a helpmeet to him In every way these poems 

We have reached the last stage of Verhaeren's 
career. The stage of powers ripening, growing, 
solidifying. His part is taken ; he has learnt his 
peculiar medium, and formulated his ideas. His 
final volumes, many though they are, merely show 
him writing still remarkable poems along the lines 
he has chosen. There is no diminution of his 
genius, and his fecundity is extraordinary. In 
1899, appeared Les Visages de la Vie ; in 1902, Les 
Forces Tumultueuses ; in igo6, La Multiple Splen- 
deur; in 1910, Les Rhythmes Souverains; and in 
1913. Les Blis Mouvanis. Four volumes of poems 
entitled Touie la Flandre, appeared at intervals 
from 1901 to 1909. And there are one or two other 
small volumes. Remember, Verhaeren has written 
twenty-three volumes of poems, and to speak of 
them all in detail would require an entire volume. 

I only wish it were possible to give something 
from each of these books. But I must content myself 
with one more quotation from his last book, Les 
BUs Mouvants. It will show that Verhaeren has 

46 Six French Poets 

lost nothing of his great vigour, and that the rage 
for justice which made him a socialist still bums in 


Allez-vous-en, allez-vous-en 
L'auberge enti^ est aux passants. 

— Elle est k nous, elle est k nous, 
Depuis bientdt trois cents anndes. 
Elle est k nous, elle est k nous, 
Depuis la porte aux longs verrous 
Jusqu'auz faites des chemindes. 

— Allez-vous-en, allez-voua-en, 
L'auberge enti^ est aux passants. 

— Nous en savons, nous en savons, 
Les mines et les 16zardes, 

Mais c'est nous seuls qui pr6tendons 

En remplacer les vieux moellons 

Des bords du seuil jusqu'aux mansardes. 

— Allez-vous-en, allez-vous-en, 
L'auberge enti^ est aux passants. 

— Nous v6n6rons ceux qui sont morts 
Au fond de leurs cercueils de chdne, 
Nous envions ceux qui sont morts 
Sans se douter des cris de haine 

Qui bondissent de plaine en plaine. 

Entile Verhaeren 47 

— Allez-vous-en, allez-vous-en, 
L'auberge enti^ est aux passants. 

— C'est notre droit, c*est notre droit, 
D'omer notre enseigne d'un Aigle ; 
C'est notre droit, c'est notre droit, 
De possdder selon les lois 

Plus qu'il ne faut d'orge et de seigle. 

— Allez-vous-en, allez-vous-en, 
Gestes et mots ne sont plus rien. 
Allez-vous-en, allez-vous-en, 

£t sachez bien 
Que notre droit, c'est notre faim. 

What Verhaeren has done for poetry is this. He \ 
has made it realize the modern world. He has 
shown the grandeur of everyday life, and made us 
understand that science and art are never at variance. 
He has shown that civic consciousness is not neces- 
sarily dry and sterile, but can be as romantic as an 
individual. And he has done all this without once 
saying it directly, by force of the greatest and most 
complete art. 




This chapter will be very different from the last 
one. Then we were engaged with a great poet. A 
man of large and exuberant nature, whose work 
was remarkable for its originality, force, dramatic 
power, and fecundity. Now we are going to con- 
sider a minor poet of delicate and graceful talent, 
whose entire poetical output is contained in three 
volumes. It is chamber-music, as tenuous and 
plaintive as that played by old eighteenth century 
orchestras, with their viola da gambas and hauU 
bois d'amores. Albert Samain would seem to lack 
his century, were it not that one cannot help feeling 
that in no century would the shy, solitary, diffident 
man have been at home. Centuries are strangely 
alike for those living them, they only change their 
values when their outlines are blurred by distance. 
The qualities which make a man great are the same 
in all ages. Samain would have been a minor poet 
in the ninth century as he was in the nineteenth. 

In the biography of the poet by L^on Bocquet, there 
is a preface by Francis Jammes, He says ; "Albert 


5m: French Poets 

Samain's forehead wrinkled like my mother's — 
from the bottom up. His arm had the elegant ges- 
ture of a stork which moves its foot backward. His 
face and body were slender. At times his blue 
eyes, behind his glasses, became heavenly, that is 
to say they looked up and whitened. . . . Albert 
Samain was a swan. I am hardly e-\pressing myself 
figuratively here, He had the harmonious stiffness 
and the gaze of a swan. Not the sharp, furious, 
wounded gaze of the bird of prey, but the impassive 
gaze of the sacred bird which flies, in high relief, on 
the frieze of some temple, the gaze which only re- 
flects the appearance of things floating away beneath 
it in the water of the stream. He had the cold and 
sad attitude of the swan too. Swan, the friend of 
shade. I see him, sailing, spread out, over the lake 
in Le Jardin de I'Infantc. . . . He does not 
listen to the whispers of this splendour which he 
himself has created, nor to the rising sea of his 
fame. He only listens to the bells of a church which 
ring in the distance — I do not know where, in a 
country which is not mine, in a country where the 
things are which one does not see. He only hears 
the chimes of this Flemish church, of this church in 
which an old woman is praying." Whether by this 
old woman Francis Jammes means Samain's mother, 
to whom the poet gave a lifelong devotion, or 
whether it is merely figurative, I cannot say. But 
the whole description, fanciful though it Is, gives a 

Albert Samain 


better picture of the man than pages of biography 
and straightforward analysis could do. 

Samain is said to have looked like a Spaniard, 
and certainly his photographs might be those of 
some Spanish grandee ; there is the haughty, spare 
figure of the Spaniard, and the sad, proud face of 
slender lines. We must not forget that Flanders 
was for some time owned by Spain, and that Lille 
only became a part of France in 1667, when Louis 
XIV besieged it and forced it to surrender. Now, 
Albert- Victor Samain was born in Lille on the third 
of April, 1858. 

His family were Flemish, and from time im- 
memorial had lived in the town or its suburbs, so 
that Samain's Spanish appearance was probably no 
mere accident, but the result of a remote heredity. 
His family belonged to the large class of the minor 
bourgeoisie. At the time of his birth, his father, 
Jean-Baptiste Samain, and his mother, Elisa-Hen- 
riette Mouquet, conducted a business in "wines and 
spirits" at 75 rue de Paris. Some distant ancestral 
strain seems to have had more effect upon Samain 
than his immediate surroundings ; certainly, the 
ancestor who gave him his figure and colouring seems 
to have given htm his character also, for no trace of 
the influences which usually mould the small shop- 
keeper's son to fit his father's routine are visible in 

This is the more surprising, as all the ease and 


Six French Poets 

assurance which he might have derived from his 
father's owning his own business were promptly 
swept away by the death of his father when he was 
fourteen. At this time, Samain was in the third 
class in the LycSe at Lille. His father's death found 
him the eldest of three children, with a widowed 
mother whom he must help to support the family. 
Noblesse oblige, whether another trait of his Spanish 
ancestor or merely derived from the fine thriftiness 
of the French bourgeoisie, was always strong in 
Samain. He left school and entered the office of a 
banker, where he seems to have held the position of 
errand-boy. From there he went into the business 
of sugar-broking, in what capacity is not stated, 
but it would seem to have been at the bottom of 
the ladder, as was natural at his age. That the work 
was very hard is e\'ident, for Samain says : " I was 
very miserable there for many years, working from 
half-past eight in the morning until eight at night, 
and on Sundays until two." 

It was at this time that Samain began to lead 
the life of a solitary, which after that he never suc- 
ceeded in shaking off. In spite of his twelve hours 
of work there were off times — the twelve other hours, 
only some of which could be spent in sleep ; and the 
Sunday afternoons. A provincial town offers very 
little in the way of amusement to an intelligent 
young man. Samain was hardly the sort of fellow 
to enjoy cock-fights, or find pleasure in lounging in 

Albert Samain 


caffe ogling the passers-by. There was the Museum, 
but museums do not last forever as an inspiring 
relaxation, and for a young fellow of eighteen or 
thereabouts wandering round a museum is usually 
a lonely joy. The boys with whom he had gone 
to school had passed on to the University ; and 
besides, what could they have to do with an under- 
clerk in a business house! Samain was too proud 
to push against cold shoulders. He simply with- 
drew more and more into himself, and laid the 
foundation for that sadness from which he could 
never afterwards entirely free himself. 

If circumstances separated him from his old 
schoolfellows, his tastes (and also his taste) re- 
moved him from his fellow clerks. A single friend 
he made, however — a M. Victor Lemoigne. This 
man not only was his friend, he believed in him, a 
precious necessity to a young writer. For Samain 
at last confided to him that he wrote verses. It 
must have been the greatest comfort to tell some- 
body, for Samain had been writing in silence and 
solitude for some time. But he had not only been 
writing, he had been training himself for a writer, 
and in that best of all methods, studying foreign 

If there were no amusements in Lille, there was 
at least a library. And in the absence of any other 
distractions Samain spent long hours there. Per- 
haps it was lucky that nothing else exerted a strong 

g6 Six French Poets' 

enough pull to make his going there in the least 
difficult. He studied, and endeavoured to complete 
his arrested education. Of course, he read rather 
vaguely, as people do without a teacher, but he 
succeeded in perfecting himself in Greek and Eng- 
lish so that he could read them both fluently. He 
delighted in English, and afterwards liked to give 
his poems English titles, and put English words 
into the middle of them. Edgar Allan Poe was one 
of his greatest admirations and inspirations. Years 
after he wrote: "I have been reading Poe this 
week. Decidedly, he must be classed among the 
greatest. The power of his conceptions, the mag- 
nificence of his hypotheses, the marvellous force of 
his imagination, always contained and held in check 
by an extraordinary will, make him an almost 
unique figure in art. ... If the word perfection 
can ever be used, it is in such a case." 

Fortunately for Samain, and for us, Lemoigne 
was sympathetic and enthusiastic. He liked the 
poems which Samain showed him, and at once de- 
cided that the young man was sure of a glorious 

There is no doubt that these over-confident and 
admiring friends do a young writer as much good 
as harm. Adverse or carping criticism often dis- 
courages to the point of sterilization, while even 
ill-judged praise gives confidence and the strength 
to go on. In a man of Samain's diffident tempera- 

Albert Samain 57 

' inent, such full-blooded encouragement must have 
been of the greatest value. But, as the desire to 
learn, to talk, to mbc in an intellectual life, grew 
upon him, more and more did Samain find the life 
of a little clerk in the provinces insupportable. It 
is truer of France than of any other country that 
its capital is the centre of its entire intellectual life. 
Samain had paid a flying visit to Paris in 1878, to 
see the Exposition. Even more than at ordinary 
times, the Paris of an Exposition year dazzles, and 
snaps, and glows. After his return to the wearisome 
dulness of Lille, Samain thought of it as the Mecca 
of all his dreams. It lured like the Pot of Gold at 
the end of the Rainbow. As luck would have it, in 
July, r88o, his firm decided to send him to its Paris 
house. He was to be only a transient addition, 
but he intended to stay if he could, and on express- 
ing this wish to his superiors it was acceded to, and 
his salary raised to 2400 francs a year. 

It might seem now as though things were at last 
coming Samain's way. Here he was, transplanted 
to Paris, and with the exciting possibility of having 
some famous literary celebrity living just round the 
corner. But in cities like Paris, "round the corner" 
might just as well be across the Channel. Albert 
Samain was living in Paris, which, as a thought, must 
have given him considerable satisfaction ; but the 
satisfaction began and ended in the realms of the 

58 Six French Poets 

He knew nobody; he had no introductions; and 
his hours were longer than in Lille. Now, he was 
at his office from nine in the morning until after 
midnight. Only once or twice a week did he even 
have some hours of freedom in the evening. And 
then there was no energy left to do any good work. 

So Samain lived in Paris more solitarily than he 
had done in Lille, for there was no M. Lemoigne 
there. And he could not work so well because he 
had less time. They were not cheerful letters 
which he sent back to M. Lemoigne. They were 
bitter, discouraged letters. He must change his 
business, there was no other way ; but to what ? 

The faithful Lemoigne was instant in suggestion. 
His friend must try journalism ; and, succeeding in 
that, have leisure for greater literary effort. It 
must have been a constant strain for Lemoigne to 
push his friend along, and his patience and effort 
were remarkable. Samain always held back, and 
was discouraged before he began. But Lemoigne 
firmly insisted. Poor Samain hastily wrote a paper 
on Offenbach and took it to the Figaro. It was not 
liked. Then he wrote to the editors of Gil Bias, 
and the Beaumarchais. His letters were not an- 
swered. So that seemed to be an end to journalism 
in Paris. 

Samain was willing to give it up, Lemoigne was 
not. If Paris would not see his friend's genius, 
Lille should. Really Lemoigne's unswerving faith 

Albert Samain 


is very beautiful, and it is a satisfaction to realize 
how abundantly it was justified. 

There was at this time in Lille a weekly called 
Le Bonhomme Flamand. It amounted to very little, 
as, of course, Lemoigne knew, but Samain must be 
printed. And two little stories of Samain's did 
appear in it signed Gry-Pearl, for Samain was afraid 
of the amusement of his friends if he signed his own 
name. The quasi-English flavour of the pseudonym 
is interesting. Shortly afterwards, Le Bonhomme 
Flamand died a natural death. The editor of an- 
other Lille paper annoyed Samain by chopping up 
one of the latter's articles to suit himself, so Samain 
refused to send any more, and forced M. Lemoigne 
to approve. Here ended Samain's attempt to push 
open the doors of journalism, if we except two 
articles in an unknown gazette, and a little piece in 
U Illustration. Samain slipped back to his old 
solitary life, writing for himself alone. 

In July, 1881, Mme. Samain joined her son in 
Paris. And from this time on they were never 
separated. Even among Frenchmen, whose affec- 
tion for their mothers has become a proverb, Samain's 
love for, and care of, his is extraordinary. For her 
sake he never married ; his salary was not enough 
to support two women. 

Later, his youngest brother Paul joined them ; 
Alice, his sister, remaining behind in Lille where 
she had married. It was a quiet, family life they 


Six French Poets 

lived in the little apartment, rue des Petits-Champs. 
It was a safe, excellent life for a rising young clerk, 
sure of stepping up in his business from position to 
higher position, and finally attaining to a business of 
his own. But for a poet, how petty, how exacting! 
How painful to weary the brain all day with figures 
so that at night it cannot find words! Weak in 
many ways though Samain was, he never wavered 
in his firm resolution to write. If he could only 
gain enough to keep his mother he would be satisfied ; 
for himself he only demanded a less fatiguing work, 
with more leisure. He watched, and watched, until 
he found something. And what he found was a 
small clerkship in the third bureau of the Depart- 
ment of Instruction, with a salary of 1800 francs a 
year. In spite of suggestions and offers from his 
firm, he took it without a moment's hesitation. 
And it speaks excellently for Mme. Samain that she 
apparently bore him no ill-will for so materially 
cutting down their income. 

The change was undoubtedly a good thing for 
Samain. He was only obliged to be at his desk for 
seven hours a day, his colleagues were men of better 
education than those in the sugar house, and finding 
a copy of Boileau open upon the table of his chief 
gave him the feeling of being in a sympathetic 
atmosphere. But still, taking everything by and 
large, Samain could not feel very successful. He 
had left Lille, true ; he had got rid of the detested 

Albert Samain 


sugar-broking; he was definitely settled in Paris. 
And there was an end to his achievements. In a 
letter written much later, he says : "At twenty-five 
years old, without the slightest exaggeration, I had 
not a single literary friend or acquaintance. My 
only relations were with young men belonging to the 
business world." 

He had made three wild dashes into the world of 
letters. The momentary, hazarding exploits of a 
very young man. From his boyhood he had fed 
upon the Romantics ; Lamartine, Hugo, and De 
Musset had been his gods. These giants being un- 
happily dead, he worshipped their belated shadows : 
Theodore de Banville and Jean Richepin. He sent 
a letter with an enthusiastic ode to De Banville, but 
the visit which De Banville invited him to make in 
return was unfortunate in the extreme. De Ban- 
ville carped and criticised, and Samain took flight 
never to go back again. Twice more, Samain was 
so ill-judged as to tempt Fate in this way. He sent 
letters to both Jean Richepin and Octave Feuillet. 
Both asked him to call, possibly the visits were re- 
peated more than once, but they had no result. 
Samain was tasting the bitter lesson, that fecund 
intimacies fall from the lap of the gods, and are 
never the result of painstaking endeavour. 

Samain gave up seeking access to celebrities and 
went back to his writing, still worshipping the dead 
authors who had not snubbed him, and writing dans 


Six French Poets 

le gout d'avant hier. But, though Samain, alone in 
the quiet lamplit evenings, still bowed before the 
old shrines, other young men were more adventurous. 
Various hot bloods got up a society, or rather they 
organized a group, and called it Nous Autres. They 
met at a cabaret in Montmartre, and drank bocs, and 
disputed theories of art and letters, and undoubtedly 
damned everyone who was not themselves, after the 
manner of young artists. By and by, they changed 
cabarets, going to Le Chat Noir, and made it famous 
by their presence. A kind of vaudeville show was 
given there, and a series of silhouette plays, in a 
little puppet theatre, by Henri Riviere had a great 
vogue. On occasions, at the end of an evening, the 
young writers read their poems aloud and had their 
angles rubbed off by one another's criticism. A 
friend took Samain to one of these gatherings, and 
he soon became an kabitui. He read a part of his 
poem, Les Monts, there. He also read Tsilla, and 
Laurent Tailhade and Jean Lorrain applauded him. 
Le Chat Noir had a little paper, and in the copy of 
it for December, 1884, Tsilla appeared on the front 
page. Tsilla was apparently liked and praised by 
the frequenters of Le Chat Nair, and Samain wrote 
a satisfied and happy letter to M. Lemoigne on the 
strength of it. Rather pathetically he tells how he 
has been praised for the healthy quality of his 
verses, and hopes that he will be able to avoid the 
maladive contagion of the period. 


Albert Samain 63 

To my mind, Tsilla is one of the dullest poems 
that ever was written, and gives no hint of the 
charm of some of his later work. It is the story of a 
young girl of antiquity (that charming and con- 
venient antiquity so beloved of poets, which never 
existed anywhere, at any time), who loves an Angel. 
In a crisis of adventurousness, she urges the Angel 
to fly up in the sky, taking her with him, which he 
does, and they go so near to the rising sun that her 
black hair is turned to gold. Owing to which acci- 
dent, she is the first woman in the world who ever 
had blond hair. The verses are no more interesting 
nor original than the story. 

If praise of such an insignificant poem had been 
all that Samain got out of his cinacle of young 
poets, his frequenting it would have been a mere 
waste of time. But it was not all. He got a com- 
plete upheaval of ideas. He learnt that Lamartine 
and Victor Hugo were vieux jeu, that Frangois 
Copp6e was not the last word in poetry to these 
young iconoclasts. He learnt that Verlaine and 
Mallarm6 were the proper objects of worship for an 
up-to-date poet. Anyone who has listened to a set 
of young writers tearing down the generation which 
has preceded them, showing up all the faults it never 
knew it had, and sneering at the good points it 
undoubtedly has, can reproduce these evenings 
perfectly. But Samain was a young provincial. 
All this talk disturbed him. This familiar scoffing 

64 Six French Poets 

at names he considered the greatest in the world 
unsettled him. What should be do ? Whom should 
he follow ? For Samaln must follow, he was as 
incapable of leadership as a man could well be. 
He did follow a little way, but only a little way — 
gingerly, like one stepping over a slippery bridg:e 
and clinging tightly to a hand-rail. 

It is easy to be an iconoclast in French poetry. 
The classic metres are so exceedingly prescribed and 
confined that the least little change lands one in 
nonconformity. But for us, living more than thirty 
years after the period I am speaking of, for us who 
are accustomed to the innovations of the vers librists, 
Samain's tentative efforts at modernity of form have 
become almost invisible. We can find them if we 
hunt, but to the naked perception they are lost in 
the general effect of conformity to metrical rules. 
Yet, to Samain, his not always putting the caesura 
in the middle of the line, or failing to alternate mas- 
culine and feminine endings, or occasionally rhyming 
plurals with singulars (all unalterable rules of 
French classic metre), must have seemed violent 
innovations indeed. 

The meetings at Le Chat Noir did not only affect 
Samain's technical habit, they affected his ideas 
about everything, even, and most, his religion. 
Brought up a Catholic, he had hitherto never 
doubted his faith, now it tumbled off him like a 
shrivelled leaf, Scepricism, a state of mind pecul- 

Albert Samain 


larly unsulted to his temperament, swept over him. 
The realization that he had lost the support of 
religion, that its consolations could no longer com- 
fort him, was agony. The idea, the resultant void, 
preoccupied him. He could no longer write, he 
could only worry and mourn. This was particularly 
unfortunate as he was at the moment composing the 
poems which afterwards made up ^« Jardin de 
VJnfante, his first volume, which was not published 
until six years later. The sapping of his vitality 
by doubt naturally lasted longer with a man of 
Samain's gentle and resigned disposition than it does 
with people of bolder characters. 

In his state of mind, the hilarious and not over- 
refined pleasures of the literary cabarets were most 
distasteful. He was too straightforward and simple 
himself not to see through the poses and childish 
debauches of his coterie. He withdrew from it, and 
retired once more within himself. But he was lonely, 
bitterly lonely. His brother Paul had been called to 
his military service, and once more he and his mother 
lived alone. His modest income of 1800 francs was 
not sufficient to enable him to think of marriage 
while he still had his mother to support. Whether 
Samain ever had a defmite love story is not known. 
It seems hardly possible for him to have escaped such 
a usual happening ; but, at any rate, whether it was 
a particular woman whom he gave up, or whether he 
merely resigned himself to bachelorhood in the ab- 


Six French Poets 

stract, certain it is that Samain felt his life bor- 
dered and arranged, and that he looked forward 
to no bright happening to change it. Mme, 
Samciin adored him and was proud of him, but 
from his reticence about his work at home, she 
does not appear to have been fitted, either by edu- 
cation or natural ability, to be much of a help to 
him in it. 

Only seven hours a day at the H6tel de Ville, and 
the rest of the time his own! That "rest of the 
time," which was to have been filled with the work 
he could not do. It hung heavy on his hands, and 
to distract himself he took to taking long walks 
about Paris. He would stroll along the Seine, turn- 
ing over the leaves of the books in the botiquinisle's 
boxes on the parapets of the giiais, amusing himself 
with the old engravings in the ten centimes boxes, 
breathing in the sharp scent of the river and the 
perfume of old, passed centuries ; he would wander 
in the once fashionable quarters of the town, now 
fallen from grace, and imagine the days when they 
were full of sedan chairs and elegant ladies. His 
love for the faded, the graceful, vanished past, grew 
and solaced him. How many of his poems seem to 
be merely efforts to reproduce it, and so dwell in it 
for a few minutes ! 

Side by side with these imaginative pleasures were 
others. He began to see nature, real nature, as it is 
even to-day. His walks in the suburbs gave him 

Albert Samain 


many a picture which he turned to account later in 
Aux Flancs du Vase. The splendid, differing sun- 
sets gave him infinite pleasure ; sometimes he would 
get into one of the bateaux mouches which go up and 
down the river, and watch the yellows and reds of 
the sunset repeat themselves in the water. He had 
none of that modem spirit which enables one to see 
beauties in tram-cars and smoking chimneys, so he 
eliminated them from his thought. In love with 
beauty as he conceived it, he took the changing 
colours which all sorts of weather threw over Paris, 
and, eternal as they are, lit his pictures of other 
centuries with them. He speaks of "la suavitfi 
supreme de Paris d'Automne;" the frail gold of 
Autumn always pleased him. He describes dark 
gardens where the fountains "font un bruit malgre, 
frileux et comme d^sol^ dans Tabandon du cr^pus- 
cule." He loved rainy days, and deserted streets, 
the "mfilancholie vieillotte des rues oil quelque chose 
est en train de mourir." Once he says : " II me , 
semblait voir, sous mes yeux, 1830 — le 1830 de 
Lamartine et de Hugo — toute mon adolescence I 
ivre d'enfant lyrique s'en aller 1^ dans cette solitude / 
mome, silencieuse, provinciate." 

A gentle soul; when he was particularly depressed 
he used to put a bunch of tube roses, or a single pale 
rose, in a glass on his desk. "Quand je me sens 
devenir pessimiste, je regarde une rose," he used to 
say. Flowers were the only luxury he permitted 


Six French Poets 

himself. Except (and this is the great "except") 
his imagination. 

His room was as bare as a cell in a monastery, 
neither painting nor engraving hung on the walls. 
But listen to the room he would have had if — 
evoking it to amuse himself on an Autumn even- 
ing : "My room. Hung with velvet of steel- 
coloured grey, with blue lights in it. The rose- 
tinted ceiling fades off into mauve and has a lar^ 
decorative design — Renaissance — in old silver, 
embossed at the comers. Hangings hide the door. 
No windows ; the room only being used by artificial 
light. Near the floor, forming a base-board, a 
band of old silver openwork appliquid on the same 
velvet as the hangings, a flower design, with knots of 
pink pearl tassels at intervals. A carpet with a 
silver nap ; against one side of the wall, a divan of 
Bteel-grey velvet. No movable furniture. In one 
comer, directiy under the bosses of the ceiling, an 
ebony table with silver lion's claws for feet; the 
table is covered with a cloth of steel-grey velvet, 
with a great silver tulip with rose-coloured leaves 
embroidered in the comer. An Etruscan armchair, 
made entirely of ebony, with silver nails. Negli- 
gently thrown over the armchair to soften the 
sharpness of the angles and the hardness of the 
wood, a grey bear skin, A lamp of old silver, mas- 
sive and slender, with a long neck of a clear shape, 
and without ornament. Shade of faded moss-rose 

Albert Satnain 


colour. Blotting pad of steel-grey morocco, with 
a heraldic device ; a penholder of old gold. Books : 
Corbidre, Mallarm^, Fleurs du Mai, in small folios, 
bound in white pigskin and tied with cords of rose- 
colour and silver, edges of old gold, titles printed in 
Roman letters, crude red on the top and on the left 
side. A fireplace with a historical plaque over it — 
Renaissance, and andirons of wrought steel termi- 
nating in couched chimeras. Three sides of the 
room are empty. In the comer opposite the table, 
on the wall, two metres from the ground, a console 
covered with steel-grey velvet supported by a Renais- 
sance chimera in iron. . . ■ Upon the console, a 
great horn of crystal, very tapering, In which are 
two roses, one rose a sulphur yellow, one wine- 
coloured. In an alcove hidden by a curtain is a 
deep niche, bathed in the half-light of a gold altar 
lamp hanging by a little chain. The globe of the 
lamp is made of pieces of many-coloured glass cut 
in facets so that they shine like great stones : ruby, 
sapphire, emerald. In the niche, which is hung with 
crimson velvet, on a column with a Doric capital, 
stands the Young Faun of Praxitiles. . . ." 

Lacking this room, why bother with engravings ! 
Yet Samain never complained of the ugliness and 
meagreness of actual life. He only played his 
games on windy nights in his bare room. 

It would be unjust to Samain to represent him 
as passing all his evenings wrapped in sugary 


Six French Poets 

dreams. He studied science, history, philosophy. 
It is a curious fact, that he was one of the 
first men in France to recognize the genius of 

In compensation for the many bitternesses of his 
life, beginning in 1884 came the happiness of two 
friendships. Samain made the acquaintance, and 
quickly became the intimate friend, of Paul Morisse 
and Raymond Bonheur. Paul Morisse was a con- 
stant traveller, and with him Samain made his first 
considerable journey. The two friends went to 
Germany. They saw the Rhine, Bingen, Mayence, 
etc. Samain was charmed with all he saw. He 
possessed the gift of wonder ; an inestimable pos- 
session, by the way. Unfortunately it was hard to 
find money for these excursions. Samain called 
the lack of money "the defective side" of his life. 
When the French Academy crowned his first book, 
he gave himself the present of a month at Lake 

So at last we reach his first book, privately printed 
in 1893, when the poet had passed his thirty-fifth 

At this time the Mercure de France had just come 
into existence, and Samain was one of its founders. 
It was in the pages of the Mercure that most of his 
poems appeared. Samain never seems to have 
seriously considered collecting them into a book. 
Over-diffident and self-critical, he worked at them. 

Albert Samain 


changed them, polished them. At rare intervals one 
was printed. Samain was in love with perfection, 
and very little that he did ever seemed to him worthy 
to leave his hands. This excessive scrupulousness 
works both ways. A poem so treated gains in 
beauty, but frequently loses in vitality. There is 
great danger of its becoming a thing of mummied 
splendour. That Samain's poems absolutely lost 
vigour by this polishing, I cannot fairly say. The 
poems I have seen in several states do seem to have 
gained technically in their final one, and to have 
parted with practically none of their original Slan. 
Elan is too strong a word. Samain's poems are 
never dashing with life. Let us say rather, not that 
his poems lost by his treatment of them, but that 
the kind of man who could so treat them was of a 
slightly depressed, unvital temper. How consider- 
able a course of sprouts he put them through can 
be imagined when I mention that, in the four ver- 
sions extant of a poem of twenty-eight lines, only 
four which were in the first version appear in the 

But to return to that firat volume. At the in- 
stance of M. Bonheur, Samain consented to print it. 
Not publish it, observe. It was issued in a charm- 
ing, privately printed edition. This was in October, 

1893. And in the Journal for the 15th of March, 

1894, appeared a review of it by no less a person 
than Fran^iois Copp^. How the volume came into 


Six French Poets 

Copp^e's hands I do not know, but he instantiy 
recognized its value and said so frankly. Five 
months of reviewing and praise in the young reviews 
had not been able to do for Samain what the hun- 
dred lines from Francois Copp6e did at once. It 
was celebrity, almost fame. The little, privately 
printed edition was quickly exhausted. Another 
was called for, and at last the book, Au Jardin de 
V Infante, was published. Still Samain was diffident, 
and when a third edition was needed, he hesitated 
again; but the third edition came out three yejirs 
after the first. The edition 1 have is marked 
"twenty-fifth," so it appears that Samain was un- 
necessarily timid. The book was given a prize by 
the French Academy, and Samain was one of the 
poets of the hour. 

There was nothing very new in Au Jardin de 
rinfante, it is true. The metre was the classic 
alexandrine, for the most part, varied by lighter, 
gayer rhythms equally well sanctioned. But the 
book was full of the shy, delicate personality of the 
poet. Here were his sumptuous imaginings, and 
the haunting sadness which never quite left him. 
Here was his tenderness for lovely, fragile things; 
his preoccupation with the past. Finally here was 
his love for English — the volume Ixire this motto 
from Edgar Allan Poe : 

Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight 
Was it not Fate {Whose name is also Sorrow) 

Albert Samain 73 

That bade me pause before that garden-gate 

To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses? 

(Ah I bear in mind this garden was enchanted 1) 

The following poem is printed in italics as a sort 
of dedication to the book : 

Mon kme est une infante en robe de parade, 
Dont I'exil se reflate, ^temel et royal, 
Aux grands miroirs d^rts d'un vieil Escurial, 
Ainsi qu'tme gal^ oubli^ en la rade. 

Aux pieds de son fauteuil, allong^ noblement, * 
Deux 16vriers d'Ecosse aux yeux m61ancoliques 
Chassent, quand il lui platt, les b6tes symboliques 
Dans la for^t du R^ve et de I'Enchantement. 

Son page favori, qui s'appelle Nagu^, 
Lui lit d'ensorcelants po^mes k mi-voix, 
Cependant qu'immobile, tme ttdipe aux doigts, 
EUe ^coute mourir en elle leur myst^re . . . 

Le pare alentour d'elle ^tend ses frondaisons, 
Ses marbres, ses bassins, ses rampes k balustres ; 
Et, grave, elle s'enivre k ces songes illustres 
Que reorient pour nous les nobles horizons. 

Elle est Ul r^ignde, et douce, et sans surprise, 
Sachant trop pour lutter comme tout est fatal, 
Et se sentant, malgrd quelque dddain natal, 
Sensible k la pitid comme Tonde k la brise. 

Six French Poets 

Elle est Uk rfaign^e, et douce en ses sang 
Plus sombre seulement quand elle 6voque en song 
Quelque Armada sombrfe k I'^ternel mensonge, 
Et tant de beaux espoirs endormis sous les flots. 

Des scire trop lourds de pourpre oil sa fiert^ soupire, 

Les portraits de Van Dyck aux beaux doigts longs et purs, 

Piles en velours noir sur Tor vieilti des murs, 

En leure grands airs d6funts la font rfiver d'empire. 

Les vieux mir^es d'or ont dissip^ son deuil, 
Et dans les visions oil son ennui s'^chappe. 
Soudain — gloire ou soleil — un rayon qui la frappe 
Allume en eUe tous les rybis de I'orgueil. 

Mais d'un sourire triste elle apaise ces fiSvres; 
Et, redoutant la foule aux tumultes de fer, 
Elle fcoute la vie — au loin — comme la mer . , . 
Et le secret se fait plus profond sur ses levies. 

Rien n'^meut d'un frisson I'eau pSle de ses yeux, 
Oil s'est assis I'Esprit voil6 des Villes mortes; 
Et par les salles, ofi sans bruit toument les portes, 
Elle va, s'enchantant de mots myst^neux. 

L'eau vaine des jets d'eau li-bas tombe en cascade, 
Et. pale & la crois^e, une tulipe aux doigts, 
Elle est li, refi6t6e aux miroira d'autrefois, 
Ainsi qu'une gal^ oubUfe en la rade. 

Hon Ame est une infante en robe de parade. 



r poem, could approach the 
Tipathetic mood? 
Hat he figures his soul under the 
rbt a Spanish Infanta; or does he fed in him- 
E something exotic, un-French, something which 
. descended to him from those possible Spanish 
F ancestors ? 

This poem seems almost a complete epitome of 
^Samain's soul. An old, magnificent splendour is 
■e, ail about his seated, quiescent Infanta, "im- 
Ipbile, une tuHpe aux doigts." And again, 

e est 1^, refl^t^ aux miroirs d'autrefois, 
e galere oubliee en la rade. 

Vis^3airain has paraphrased himself in this poem 
- the haughty, noble, anachronistic self, hidden 
under the appearance of an insignificant government 

This introduction is followed by a second motto 
from Mallarm^ : ' ' D'une essence ravie aux vieiliesses 
des roses," and then we come to the book itself. 
This is the first poem : 

HEURES D-ferfe 
Apporte les cristaux dorfs, 
Et les verres couleur de songe ; 
Et que notre amour se prolonge 
Dans les parfums exasp^'fe. 

76 5m: F-e 

DesrosesI Desr< 

Je les adore & la si 

Elles out la sombre attirance^ 

Des choses qui donnent la mort. 

L'dtfi d'or croule dans les coupes; 
Le jus des pfiches que tu coupes 
i^claboosse ton sein neigeux. 

Le pare est sombre comme im gouSre . 
Et c'est dans man cccur orageux 
Comme un mal de douceur qui soufire. 

These poems are as fragile as the golden cri 
he speaks of. What d« they jive us ? It is impoi 
sible to say. A nuance, a colour, a vague magnifi- a 
cence. Here is an evocation of that eighteenth 
century, by which he was haunted : 


Oh I Ecoute la symphonie ; 
Ricn n'est doux comme une agonie 
Dans la musique ind^finie 
Qu 'exhale un lointain vaporeux ; 

D'une langueur ta nuit s'en 
Et notre azeur qu'elle dfilivre 
Du monotone effort de v 
Se meurt d'un tr^as langcureux. 


Albert Samain 77 

.• Glissons entre le ciel et ronde, 
Gliss«ns sous la*lune profonde ; 
Toute mon &me, loin du monde, 
S'est r^fugi^ en tes yeux, 

£t je regarde tes prunelles 
Se p&mer sous les chanterelles, 
Comme deux fleurs sumaturelles 
Sous un rayon m^lodieux. 

Oh 1 ^coute la symphonie ; 
Rien n'est doux comme I'agonie 
De la l^vre ^ la Idvre imie 
Dans la musique ind^finie . . . 

The insistence of Autumn evenings with their 
suggestion of melancholy is in Octobre: 


Octobre est doux. — Lliiver p^lerin s'achemine 
Au ciel od la demi^ hirondelle s'^tonne. 
Rftvons . . . le feu s'alltune et la bise chantonne. 
Rftvons ... le feu s'endort sous sa cendre dliermine. 


L'abat-jour transparent de rose s'illumine. 

La vitre est noire sous I'averse monotone. 

Oh ! le doux "remember" en la chambre d'automne, 

OH des trumeaux d6ftmts T&me se dissdmine. 

La ville est loin. Plus rien qu'tm bruit sourd de voitureB 
Qui meurt, m^lancolique, aux plis lourds des tentures • . . 
Formons des rtves fins sur des miniatures. 

Six French Poets 

Vera de mauves lointains d'uoe douceur fan& 
Mon flme s'est perdue ; et I'Heure enrubaimfa 
Sonne ceat ans k la pendule surann6e . . . 

And here is a splendid one of a fite — eighteenth 
century, of course — in the Palazzo Lanzoli at Ber- 
gamo, and all done with a touch : 

Nuit d'6t^. — Sous le ciel de lapis-lazuli, 
Le pare enchants baigne en des t^nfibres molles. 
Les fleurs invent, I'amour se parfume aui corolles. 
TiSde, la lune monte au firmament pili. 

Ce soir, Bte 4 Bergame au palais Lanzoli ! 
Les couples enlaces descendent des gondoles. 
Le bal s'ouvre, iXaA€ de roses girandoles. 
Ftate et cordes, I'orchestre eat conduit par Lulli. 

Les madrigaux parmi les robes essaim^es 
Oftrent, la Idvre en coeur, leurs fadeurs sublim^; 
Et, Eur le glacis d'or des parquets tranfiparents, 

Les caillettes R^gence, exquisement vieillotes, 
DStaillent la langueur savante des gavottes 
Au rhythme parfum6 des ^ventails mourants. 

Notice how deftly the poet places his picture by 
speaking of Bergamo and the Lanzoli Palace. And 
bringing in Lulli as a rhyme, is a delightful thing. 


Albert Samain 79 

But perhaps the prettiest one of that kind is 
Vile Fortunle, undoubtedly suggested by Watteau's 
picture, Le Dipart pour Cythire. Not Verlaine him- 
self has done a more beautiful eighteenth century 
picture, nor one which sings more gracefully. 


Dites, la Bande Jolie, 
J'ai Vkm& en m^lancolie, 
Dites-moi, je vous supplie, 

Est-ce k Venise, k Florence ? 
Est-ce au pays d'Esp^rance ? 
Est-ce dans TIle-de-France ? 

Qui sail? 

VienSy tu verras des bergdres, 
Des marquises bocagdres, 
Des moutons blancs d'^tagdres, 

Et puis 
Des oiseaux et des oiselles, 
Des Lindors et des Angles, 
Et des roses aux margelles 


Viens, tu verras des Ludndes, 
Des Agn^y des Rosalindes, 


Avec des perles des Indes, 

80 Six French Poets 

Sur rindex tine pemiche, 
Le col serr^ dans la ruche, 
Le grand ^ventail d'autruche 

Les Iris, et les Bstelles 
En chaperons de dentelles 
R6vent pr^ des cascatelles 

En pleurSy 
Et f ermant leurs grandes ailes 
Les papillons ^ris d'elles 
En deviennent infid^es 

Aux fleurs. 

Unis d'tine double ^treinte 

Les Amants rddent, sans crainte, 

Aux detours du labyrinthe 

Sur le jardin diaphane 
Un demi-silence plane, 
OiX toute rumeur profane 


C'est la Divine Joumde, 
Par le songe promen^ 
Sur rherbe comme fan^ 

Un peu. 
Avec des amours sans fraude, 
Des yeux d'ambre et d'dmeraude 
Et de lents propos que brode 


Albert Samain 8i 

Le soir tombe . . . Llieure douce 
Qui s'^loigne sans secousse 
Pose k peine sur la mousse 

Un jour ind^ds persiste, 
£t le Cr6puscule triste 
Ouvre ses yeux d'am^thyste 


Des cygnes voguent par troupes . • • 
On goiite sur llierbe en groupes ; 
Le dessert choque les coupes 

D'or fin. 
Les assiettes sont de Sevres ; 
£t les madrigaux, si mi^vres, 
Caram61isent les Idvres 

Sans fin. 

L'apr^-midi qui renie 
L'ivresse du jour bannie 
Expire en une infinie 

Langueur . . . 
Le toit des chaumi^res ftune, 
£t dans le ciel qui s'embrume 
L'argent des astres s'allume, 


Les amants disent leurs flammes, 
Les yeux fiddles des f emmes 
Sont si purs qu'on voit leurs Ames 
Au fond ; 

82 Six French Poets 

Et, deux k deux, ang^liques, 
Les Baisers melancoHques 
Au bleu pays des reliques 

Au son des musiques lentes, 
Les Amoureuses dolentes 
Ralentissent, nonchalantes, 

Le pas . . . 
Du del flotte sur la terre ; 
Et, dans le soir solitaire, 
L'angdlus tinte k CythSre, 

Li-bas . . . 

The whole volume is full of delicate, almost arti- 
ficial, light and shade ; bells ring over still lakes, 
roses in cut glass vases mirror themselves in the 
marble tops of tables, silken skirts brush over 
polished floors, but — in the distance, everything is 
in the distance. The poet himself, kind, patient, 
sad, is always by our side assuring us that it is only 
his soul, "en robe de parade." Still, there are 
sterner poems in this collection, such as Silence and 
Douleur. No one understands better than Samain 
how to give the emotion, the grandeur, or the tragedy, 
of an epoch, in the confines of a sonnet. 

Vague, perdue au fond des sables monotones. 
La ville d'autrefois, sans tours et sans 

Albert Samain 83 

Dort le sommeil dernier des vieilles Babylones, 
Sous le suaire blanc de ses marbres 6pars. ^ 

Jadis'elle r^gnait ; stir ses mtirailles fortes 

La Victoire 6tendait ses deux ailes de fer. 

Tous les peuples d'Asie assi^geaient ses cent portes ; 

Et ses grands escaliers descendaient vers la mer . . . 

Vide k present, et pour jamais silencieuse, 
Pierre ^ pierre, elle meurt, sous la lune pieuse, 
Aupr^ de son vieux fleuve ainsi qu'elle ^uis6 

£t, seul, un ^16phant de bronze, en ces d^sastres, 
Droit encore ati sommet d'un portique bris6, 
L^ve tragiquement sa trompe vers les astres. 

Or this, which seems, in its fourteen lines, to give 
both sides of Napoleon's character so that no more 
need be said. Napoleon, sending to Corsica for his 
old nurse, so that she might be present at his Coro- 
nation, is one of those strange beauties which start 
up along his career. 


Notre-Dame annongait Tapoth^ose pr^te 
Avec la voix d'airain de ses beffrois jumeaux ; 
Au loin les grands canons grondaient, et les drapeaux 
Se gonflaient, frissonnants, sous I'orgueil de la £&te. 

Six French Poets 

L'Empereur s'inclina, les mains jointes, nu-tGte, 
Et te Pape appanit, dans I'^ciat des flambeaux, 
Tenant entre ses doigts ^tincelants d'anneaux 
La couronne partant la croix latine au fatte. 

Mon fik ! dit !e pontife . . . alors I'orgue se tut. 
Sur tous les fronts baissfe un seul frisson courut, 
Comme le battement soudain d'une aile immense ; 

Et Ton ii'ent«ndit plus, 6 C6sai triomphant, 
Dans la nef oh planait un auguste silence, 
Qu'une vJeille h genoux qui pleurait son enfant. 

There are still two more poems which I must 
quote. They tell more about his poetry than any 
words of mine can do. The first is Dilection, and 
enumerates the subjects he prefers : 


J'adore I'ind&is, les sons, les couleurs frSIes, 
Tout ce qui tremble, ondule, et frissonne, et chatoie 
Les cheveux et les yeux, I'eau, les feuilles, la soie, 
Et la spirituality des formes gr€les ; 

Les rimes se fr&lant comme des tourterelles, 
La fum^ oil le songe en spirales toumoie, 
La chambre au cr^puscule, o^ Son profil se aoie, 
Et la caresse de Ses mains sumaturelles ; 




Albert Satnain 85 

Llieure de del au long des l^vres c&lin6e, 
USane comme d'un poids de ddlice indinde, 
L'&me qui meurt ainsi qu'une rose £an6e, 

Et tel cceur d'ombre diaste, embaum6 de mystdre, 
Oii veille, comme le rubis d'un lampadaire, 
Ntiit et jour, un amour mystique et solitaire. 

The second poem starts off without any title and 
speaks of the technique he strives to attain : 

Je r^ve de vers doux et d'intimes ramages, 
De vers & frdler VSane ainsi que des plumages, 

De vers blonds oil le sens fluide se ddie, 
Conmie sous Teau la dievelure d'Ophdie, 

De vers silendeux, et sans rythme et sans trame, 
Od la rime sans bruit glisse comme ime rame, 

De vers d'une andeime 6toffe, extdnude, 
Impalpable comme lesson et la mude, 

De vers de soirs d'automne ensorcelant les heures 
Au rite f dminin des syllabes mineures, 

De vers de soirs d'amour ^nerv^ de verveine, 
Oik r&me sente, exquise, une caresse k peine, 


Six French Poets 

Et qui an long des nerfs baign^ d'ondes cAlines 

Meurent k I'mtini en pflmoisons felines, 

Conome un parfum dissous parmi des ti6deuis closes. 

Violes d'or, et pianissim'i 

Je rSve de vers doux mourant corarae des roses. 

These two poems together are an excellent analysis 
of his work. 

Good fortune did not change Samain. He was 
gentle, unaffected, painstaking, as before. He did 
not rush into print as the result of his success; on 
the contrary, it was not until 1898 that his next 
book, Aux Flancs du Vase, was published. 

In the meantime, Samain and Raymond Bonheur 
had been to Provence in September, 1897, and 
stopped at Orthez to see Francis Jammes. Between 
this simple and great poet and Samain, two days 
were enough to cement a friendship which lasted 
for the rest of Samain's life. They only saw each 
other for these few days, and once, later, when 
Jammes came to Paris for a short stay, and wandered 
atK)ut the park of Versailles with Samain, but the 
memory of his friend has never left Jammes. One 
of his most beautiful Elegies is to Samain. 

These little journeys, including one to Italy, gave 
Samain great pleasure, and showed him more kinds 
of natural scenery than he had ever seen before. 

Albert Samain 


The poems in his posthumous volume, Le Chariot 
d'Or: ForHs, Les Monts, Le Fleuve, are probably 
the result of those journeys. 

About this time, Samain's health began to give 
way. He complains of discomfort. This is the 
moment to follow up his success. M, Bruneti&re 
makes advances to him for the Revue des Deux 
Mondes, and twice his poems are printed in it. But 
he is indifferent. His health is failing. He is writing 
Aux Flancs du Vase, and says that the idea of it 
"me hante comme un cauchmar," and that he can- 
not sleep for thinking of it. 

Unhappily, the moment passes, and when the book 
comes out in 1898, it goes almost unnoticed. Too 
long a time had elapsed, Copp6e was dead, and 
there was no fashionable critic to do for this volume 
what he had done for the other. 

Yet Aux Flancs du Vase is not a whit behind 
Au Jardin de V Infante in beauty of purpose or 
technique. Twenty-five little poems, of a singu- 
larly advised simplicity and charm. The scenes 
are set in a conventional antiquity by means of 
Greek names being given to the characters, and 
the whole reminds one of a set of engravings by 
Boucher, or Fragonard, or Watteau. Not paintings, 
but engravings, each set in an oval, and faintly 

It is a little boy struggling with a goat ; or a mother 
and child threading and bargaining their way through 

88 Six French Poets 

a market ; or a girl chasing and catching a frog. 
But here are three of these little pieces: 

Ma fille, laisse U ton aiguille et ta laiae ; 
Le mattre va rentrer ; sur la table de ch&ae 
Avec la nappe neuve aux plis iStincelants 
Mets la faience claire et les verres brillants. 
Dans la coupe airondie k I'anse en col de cygne 
Pose les fruits choisis sur des feuilles de vigne : 
Les pfches que recouvre un velours vierge encor, 
Et les lourds raisins bleus Tn&\6s aux raisins d'or 
Que le pain bien coupe rempiisse les corbeiUes, 
Et puis ferme la porte et chasse les abeilles . . . 
Dehors le soleil brtile, et la muraiile cuit. 
Rapprochons les volets, faisons presque la nuit. 
Afin qu'ainsi la salle, aux tSn^bres plong^, 
S'embaume toute aux fruits dont la table est charg^. 
Maintenant, va puiser I'eau fratche dans la cour ; 
Et veille que surtout la cruche, k ton retour, 
Garde longtemps, glacde et leotement fondue, 
Une vapeur 16g^ i ses flancs suspendue. 

Bathylle, dans la cour oi glousse la volaille, 
Sur l'&:uelle pench^, souffie dans une paiUe; 
L'eau savonneuse mousse et bouillonne i grand bruit, 
Et d^borde. L'enfant qui s'dpuise sans fruit 
Sent venir i sa bouche une acret^ saline. 
Plus heureuse, une bulle 4 la fin se dessine. 


Albert Samatn 69 

Bt, conduite avec art, s'allonge, se distend 
Et s'arrondit enfin en un globe 6clatajil. 
L'enfant souffle toujoura ; elle s'accrolt encore : 
EUe a les cent couleurs du prisme et de raurore, 
Et refl^ aiu parois de son mince cristal 
Les arbres, la maison, la route et le cheval. 
PrSte 4 se detacher, merveilleuse, elle brille ! 
L'enfant retient son souffle, et voici qu'elle osciUe, 
Et monte doucement, vert pfile et rose clair, 
Comme un frgle prodige ^tincelant dans I'air ! 
Elle monte . . . Et soudajn, I'Ame encore ^blouie, 
Bathylle cherche en vain sa gloire ^vanouie . , . 

Dans la salle en rumeur un silence a passd . . . 
Pannyre aux talons d'or s'avance pour danser. 
Un voile aux mille plis la cache tout enti^re. 
D'un long trille d'argent la flfite la premiere 
L'invite ; elle s'dlance, entre-croSse ses pas, 
Et, du lent mouvement imprimiS par ses bras, 
Donne un rythme bizarre h. I'^toffe nombreuse, 
Qui s'Slargit, ondule, et se goniie et se creuse, 
Et se diploic enfin en large tourbillon . . . 
£t Pannyre devient fleur, flamme, papillon ! 
Tout se taisent ; les yeux la sulvent en extase. 
Pen & peu la fureur de la danse I'embrase. 
Elle toume tou jours : vitel plus vite encore ! 
La flamme ^perdument vaciUc aux flambeaux d'or ! . . . 
Puis, brusque, elle s'arrtte au milieu de la salle ; 
Et le voile qui toume autour d'elle en spirale, 

Six French Poets 

Suspendu dans sa course, apaise ses longs plis, 
Et, se coUant aux seins aigus, aiu Sancs polis, 
Cooime au travers d'une eau soyeuse et continue, 
Dans un divin Eclair, montre Pannyie nue. 

Little dramas, they are, sufficient each one to 
itself with a perfect finality. And the delicacy with 
which they are done defies analysis. They are trans- 
parent, hardly printing themselves upon the atmos- 
phere, like egg-shell china held to the light. And 
yet what movement they have ! One can almost 
hear the soft snap with which the soap-bubble 
bursts, and Pannyre's dance makes one giddy with 
its whirl ; and by what means he has given the 
folding of the draperies to stillness — to such utter, 
drooping heaviness — I do not know. But there it is. 

While Samain was preparing this book for the 
press, his mother was taken ill. Sick himself, 
Samain nursed his mother and hung over her, 
fearing the event he dared not realize, ft came in 
December, 1898, and Samain was alone. 

His grief was desolating. His health, already 
extremely feeble, became worse. Consumption de- 
clared itself. He must be got away from Paris and 
the five flights of stairs to his apartment. M. Ray- 
mond Bonheur took him to Villefranche, but the 
winds were too strong and he moved to Vence. 

In the Spring he is back in Paris, but no better. 
Still he starts to work again, and writes the little 
play in verse, Polyph&tne — attractive, insignificant — 


Albert Samain 


which was pubHshed in the second edition of Aux 
Flancs du Vase, in 1901. 

The Winter was disastrous, his letters are full of 
his suffering. In the Spring, he paid a visit to his 
sister in Lille, but it rained all the time and he could 
not leave the house. Paris again, and the five flights 
almost impossible to negotiate. Then M. Bonheur, 
generous and devoted as always, took him to his 
own house at Magny-les-Hammeaux in the depart- 
ment of Seine-et-Oise. But Samain feared to be a 
burden on his friend, and after a few weeks as his 
guest insisted upon hiring a house on the other side 
of the road and moving into it, beliexdng, with the 
invincible optimism of the consumptive, that he 
should get well, and that they would go to Italy 
together in the Autumn, Albert Samain died on 
the i8th of August, 1900, and was buried in his 
native town of Lille. 

In 1901, appeared his last volume of poems, Le 
Chariot d'Or, and in 1903, a volume of prose stories, 
entitled Conies, both collections due to the care and 
affection of his friends. 

Le Chariot d'Or is, if anything, superior to both 
Au Jardin dc VInJante and Aux Flancs du Vase. 
Not so polished as the latter probably, nor so arti- 
ficially captivating as the former. But many of 
the poems seem to have a larger humanity. The 
eighteenth century pieces are here, but more tenderly, 
more regretfully done. This one, called WaUeau, 


92 Six French Poets 

might serve as a companion piece to L'lle ForlunSe, 
but how differently executed : 

Au-dessus des grands bois profonds 
L'fitoile du berger s'aUume , . . 
Groupes sur I'herbe dans la brume . . . 
Pizzicati des violons . . , 
Entre les mains, les mains s'attardent, 
Le del oil les amants regardent 
Laisse im refiet rose dans I'eau; 
Et dans la clairi^re ind^cise, 
Que U nuit proche idolise, 
Passe entre Estelle et Cydalise 
L'ombre amoureuse de Watteau. 

Watteau, peintre id6al de la FiUjolie, 

Ton art l^er fut tendre et doux comme un soupir, 

Et tu donnas une ime inconnue au D^sir 

En I'asseyant aux pieds de la M^IancoUe. 

Tes bergers fins avaient la canne d'or au doigt; 
Tes berg^res, non sans quelques fa^ns hautaines, 
Promenaieat, sous I'ombrage ou chantaient les Containes, 
Leuis robes qu'effilait deni^re un grand pli droit . . . 

Dans I'air bleuStre et tiMe agonisaient les roses ; 
Les cceurs s'ouvraient dans l'ombre au jardin apais£, 
El les Ifivres, prenant aux l^vres le baiser, 
Fiancaient I'amour triste S la douceur des choses. 

Albert Samain 93 

Les Pterins s'en vont au Pays id6al . . . 
La gal^ dorde abandonne la rive ; 
£t raxnante & la proue dooute au loin, pensive, 
Une fldte mourir, dans le soir de cristal . . . 

Oh I partir avec eux par un soir de myst^, 
O mattre, vivre un soir dans ton i^ve enchants ! 
La mer est rose. ... II souffle une brise d'6t6, 
£t quand la nef aborde au rivage argents 

La lune doucement se Idve sur Cyth^. 

L'6ventail balanc6 sans tr^ve 

Au rythme intime des aveuz 

Fait, chaque fois qu'il se soul^ve, 

S'envoler au front des cheveux, 

L'ombre est suave . . . Tout repose. 

Agnds sourit ; L6andre pose 

Sa viole sur son manteau ; 

£t sur les robes parfumdes, 

£t sur les mains des Bien-Aim6es, 

Flotte, au long des moUes ramies, 

L'dme divine de Watteau. 

Take these four sonnets on Versailles. Again, 
the artificiality has gone. The melancholy wears 
its natural complexion as it were, unpainted, and 
in No. II is a fine irony, gentle, — the author b 
Samain — but healthy and keen. 

[ Six French Poets 


O Versailles, par cette aprSs-midi isaie, 
Pourquoi ton souvenir rn'obsMe-t-H ainsi? 
Les ardeurs de V6t6 s'^loignent, et voici 
Que s'incline vers nous la saison suraonSe. 

Je veuA revoir au long d'une calme joumfe 

Tes eauA glauques que jonche un feuillage roussi, 

Et respirer encore, un soir d'or adouci, 

Ta beaut6 plus touchante au d&lin de I'ann^. 

Voici tes if s en cAne et tes tritons joufElus, 
Tes jardins composes oil Louis ne vient plus, 
Et ta pompe arborant les plumes et les casques. 

Comme un grand lys tu meurs, noble et triste, sans bruit ; 
Et ton onde ^puis^ au bord moisi des vasques 
S'6coule, douce ainsi qu'un sanglot dans la nuit. 

Grand air. Urbanity des fagons anciennes. 
Haut cfr^monial. R^vfrences sans fin. 
Cr6qui, Fronsac, beaus nonas chatoyants de satin. 
Mains ducales dans les vieilles valendennes, 

Mains royales sur les ^pinettes. Antiennes 
Des fvSques devant Monseigneur le Dauphia. 

Albert Samain 95 

Gestes de menuet et coeurs de biscuit fin ; 

£t ces gr&ces que Ton disait Autrichieimes . . . 

Princesses de sang bleu, dont I'dme d'apparat, 

Des sidles, au plus pur des castes mac6ra. 

Grands seigneurs paillet6s d'esprit. Marqtiis de Sevres. 

Tout un monde galant, vif, brave, exquis et fou, 

Avec sa fine 6pde en verrouil, et surtout 

Ce m^pris de la mort, comme une fleur, aux Idvres 1 


Mes pas ont suscit6 les prestiges enfuis. 
O psyche de vieuz saxe oti le Pass6 se mire . . • 
C'est id que la reine, en 6coutant Z6mire, 
R&veuse, s'6ventait dans la ti6deur des nuits. 

O visions : paniers, poudre et mouches ; et puis, 
L6ger comme im parftun, joli comme im sourire 
C'est cet air vieille France ici que tout respire ; 
Et toujours cette odeur p^n^trante des buis . . . 

Mais ce qui prend mon coeur d'une 6treinte infinie, 
Aux rayons d'un long soir dorant son agonie, 
C'est ce Grand-Trianon solitaire et royal, 

Et son perron desert oii I'automne, si douce, 
Laisse pendre, en r^vant, sa chevelure rousse 
Sur Teau divinement triste du grand canal. 

Six French Poets 


Le bosquet de Vertumne est d6!aiss6 des GrAces. 
Cett« ombre, qui, de marbre en marbre g&nissant, 
Se tralne et se retient d'un beau bras languissant, 
H^las, c'est le G^e ea deuil des vieilles races. 

O Palais, horizon suprtme des terrasses, 
Un peu de vos beaut& coule dans notre sang ; 
Et c'est ce qui vous donne un indicible accent, 
Quand un couchant sublime illumine vos glaces 1 

Gloires dont tant de jours vous ffltes le d€coT, 
Ames etincelant sous les lustres. Soirs d'or. 
Versailles . . . Mais d^j^ s'amasse la nuit sombre. 

Et mon cceur tout k coup se sene, car j'entends, 
Comme un b^Uer sinistre aux murailles du temps, 
Toujours, le grand bruit sourd de ces flots noirs dans I'ombre. 

A new vigour, utterly foreign to the other volumes, 
is here. Occasionally, something almost like humour 
and animal spirits creeps in. Here are two little 
sonnets called Paysages, in which Scunsiin shows the 
Flemish love of painting: 


L'air est trois fois l^ger. Sous le ciel trois fois pur, 
Le vieux bourg qui s'eSrite en ses noires murailles 
Ce clair matin d'hiver sourit sous ses pierraiUes 
A ses monts familiers qui rSvent dans I'azur . . . 

Albert Samain 97 

Une dalle encastr^e, en son latin obscur, 

Parle aprte deux mille ans d'antiques fun^railles. 

Ci^sar passait ici pour gagner ses batailles, 

Un oiseau du printemps chante sur le vieux mur . . . 

Bmissante sous I'ombre en dentelle d'un arbre, 
La fontaine sculpts en sa vasque de marbre 
Pait briller au soleil quatre filets d'argent. 

Et pendant qu'i travers la mannaille accounie 
La diligence jaune entre dans la grand'rue, 
La tour du Signador jette ITieure en songeant. 


L'horloger, p41e et fin, travaille avec douceur; 
Vagues, le seuil b^ant, somnolent les boutiques; 
Et d'un trottoir h. I'autre ainsi qu'aux temps antiques 
Les saluts du matin &hangent leur candeur. 

Panonceaux du notaire et plaque du docteur . . . 
A la fontaine un gars fait boire ses bourriques ; 
Et vers le cat^chisme en files sym^triques 
Des petits enfants vont, conduits par une sceur. 

Un rayon de soleil dard6 comme une fl6che 

Fait tout a coup chanter une voix claire et fralche 

Dans la ruelle obscure ainsi qu'im corridor, 

De la montagne il sort des ruisselets en foule, 

Et partout c'est un bruit d'eau vive qui s'&oule 

De I'aube au ^^mt d'argent jusqu'au soir aux yeux d'or. 

gS Six French Poets 

There is certainly humour in the yellow diligence, 
and in the door-plates of the doctor and notary. 

La Cuisine is the most Flemish thing that Samain 
ever did. It is a whole palette of shouting colourB, 
and as realistic as Zola's still life pictures in Z>e 
Ventre de Paris. 

Dans la cuisine oil flotte une senteur de thym, 
Au retour du march^, comme un soir de butin, 
S'entassent pfile-mfle avec les lourdes viandes 
Les poireaux, les radis, les oignons en guirlandes, 
Les grands chous violets, le rouge potiron, 
Xa tomate vemie et le pSle citron. 
Comme un grand cerf-volant la raie 6norme et plate 
Git fouillee au couteau, d'une plaie ^carlate. 
Un li^re au poil rougi tralne sur les pav& 
Avec des yeux pareils i. des raisins crevfe. 
D'un tas dtiuttres vid6 d'un panier couvert d'algues 
Monte I'odeur du large et la (ratcheur des vagues. 
Les cailles, les perdreaux au doux ventre ardois£ 
Laissent, du sang au bee, pendre leur cou bris6; 
C'est un fital vibrant de fruits verts, de legumes, 
De nacre, d'argent dair, d'ficailles et de plumes. 
Un trongon de saumon saigne et. vivant encor, 
Un grand homard de bronze, acheti^ sur le port, 
Parmi la victuaille au hasard entassfe, 
Agite, agooisant, une antenne cassfe. 

One more quotation and I have done. It is a 
poem with the title Nocturne Provincial, and it is 


Albert Samain 99 

modem — yes, modem, as we to-day understand 
the terai — in subject, in treatment, even in its 
changing rhythms. 


La petite ville sans bruit 

Dort profond6ment dans la nuit. 

Aux vieux r^verbdres h. branches 
Agonise un gaz indigent ; 
Mais soudain la lune ^mergeant 
Fait tout au long des maisons blanches 
Resplendir des vitres d'argent. 

La nuit tiMe s'^vente au long des marronniers . . • 
La nuit tardive, od flotte encor de la lumi^. 
Tout est noir et desert aux andens quartiers ; 
Mon &me, accoude-toi sur le vieux pont de pierre, 
£t respire la bonne odeur de la rivi^. 
Le silence est si grand que mon cceur en frissonne. 
Seul, le bruit de mes pas sur le pav^ rdsonne. 
Le silence tressaille au coeur, et minuit sonne ! 

Au long des grands murs d'un couvent 
Des feuilles bruissent au vent. 
Pensionnaires . . . Orphelines . . . 
Rubans bleus sur les pdlerines • . . 
C'est le jardin des Ursulines. 

100 Six French Poets 

Une brise k travers les grilles 
Passe aussi douce qu'un soupir. 
£t cette ^toile atix feux tranqtiilles, 
L^-bas, semble, au fond des charmilles, 
Une veilleuse de saphir. 

Oh ! sous les toits d'ardoise k la lune pdlis, 

Les vierges et leur pur sommeil aux chambres daires, 

£t leurs petits cous ronds nou6s de scapulaires, 

£t leurs corps sans p6ch^ dans la blancheur des lits I . 

D'une heure ^gale id llieure ^gale est suivie, 

Et rinnocence en paix dort au bord de la vie . . • 

Triste et ddserte infiniment 
Sous le clair de lune dectrique, 
Void que la place historique 
Aligne solennellement 
Ses vieux hdtels du Parlement. 

A Tangle, une fenfitre est ^clairde encor. 
Une lampe est 1^-haut, qui veille quand tout dort I 
Sous le fr^le tissu, qui tamise sa flamme, 
Furtive, par instants, glisse une ombre de femme. 

La fenfetre s'entr'ouvre un peu ; 

Et la femme, poignant aveu, 

Tord ses beaux bras nus dans Tair bleu . . . 

Albert Samain 

secretes ardeurs des nuits provinciales 1 
Coeurs qui brOlent \ Cheveux en d&ordre 6pandos ! 
Beaux seins lourds de d&irs, p^tris par des mains p&les ! 
Grands appels suppliants, et jamais entendus 1 

Je vous 6voque, 6 vous, amantes ignor6es, 
Dont la chair se coMume ainsi qu'un vain flambeau, 
Et qui sur voa beaux corps pleurez, d6sesp6r6es, 
Et faites pOAir I'amour, et d'amour diSvortes, 
Vous coucherez, un soir, vierges dans le tombeau I 

Et mon kme pensive, k Tangle de la place. 
Fixe toujoure 14-bas la vitre ou I'ombre passe, 

Le ridcau frfile au vent frissonne . . . 
La lampe meurt . . . Une heure sonne. 
Personne, personne, personne. 

There are other parts to the book. Parts not so 
interesting, not so different. We know that many 
of the poems in the volume date from the time of 
Au Jardin de I'InJante. Which ones are they? I 
wonder. Were the ones we think more modem 
really written later, or did Samain, at one time in 
his career, confuse art with artificiality, and elimi- 
nate these poems as less good than others ? Here 
they are, beautiful works of art for us to speculate 
upon, and proofs of the power of the modem world, 
which imposes itself upon us whether we will or not. 

Six French Poets 

In closing, I cannot help asking myself the ques- 
tion : Have I evoked a man for you ? Have I 
shown him as he was : a genius, graceful, timid, 
proud, passionate, and reserved? Let me end by 
two quotations, descriptions, by men who knew him. 
The first one is in a letter from the poet Robert de 
Montesquiou ; he says: "I had occasion to meet 
the author of Au Jardin de VInJanle at the house of 
a mutual friend. . . . The simplicity of his atti- 
tude and manners, the dignity of his life, could 
only add to the predilection his works had inspired. 
But his life was shut like his soul, fastened as well. 
One could only, one would wish only, to distract it 
for brief moments. The rest resolves itself into the 
pure, tender, penetrating songs which are his books. 
I had the pleasure of meeting Albert Samain many 
times. ... He always showed himself reserved 
without affectation, the result of his distinguished 
and discreet nature." 

The other quotation is Francis Jammes' elegy on 
Albert Samain; 

A Albert Samain 
Mon cher Samain, c'est k toi que j'6cris encxjre. 
C'est la premi&re fois que j'envoie k la mort 
ces lignes que t'apportera, demain, au ciel, 
quelque vieux serviteur d'un hameau ^temel. 
Souris-moi pour que je ne pleure pas. Dis-moi : 
"Je ne suis pas si malade que tu !e crois." 


Albert Samain lo 

Ouvre ma porte encore, ami. Passe mon seuil 

et dis-moi en entrant : "Pourquoi es-tu en deuil?" 

Viens encore. C'est Orthez oil tu es. Bonheur est li. 

Pose done ton chapeau sur la chaise qui est 1^. 

Tu as soif ? Voici de I'eau de puits bleue et du vin. 

Ma mfire va descendre et te dire : "Samain . . ." 

et ma chienne appuyer son museau sur ta main. 

Je parle. Tu souris d'un sSrieux sourire. 

Le temps n"existe pas. Et tu me iaisses dire. 

Le soir vient. Nous raarchons dans la lumifire jaune 

qui fait les fins du jour resserabler k I'Automne. 

Et nous longeons le gave. Une colombe rauque 

gSmit tout doucement dans un peuplier glauque. 

Je bavarde. Tu souris encore. Bonheur se tait. 

Void la route obscure au d^lin de I'Et^, 

void I'ombre i. genoux prte des bells-de-nuit 

qui oment les seuils noirs cm. la fum6e bleuit. 

Ta mort ne change rien. L'ombre que tu aimais, 
ofi tu vivais, ou tu souflrais, oii tu chantais, 
c'est nous qui la quittons et c'est toi qui la gardes. 
Ta lurai^e naquit de cette obscurity 
qui nous pousse h. genoux par ces beaux soirs d'Bt<^ 
ofi, flairant Dieu qui passe et tait vivre les bl&, 
sous les liserons noirs aboient les chiens de garde. 
Je ne regrette pas ta mort. D'autres mettront 
le laurier qui convient aux rides de ton front. 
Moi, i'aurais pcur de te blesser, te connaissant. 
n ne faut pas cacher aux enfants de seize ans 
qui suivroot ton cercueil en pleurant sur ta lyre, 
la gloire de ceux-li qui meurent le front libre. 

5m; French Poets 

Je ne regrette pas ta mort. Ta vie est Ik. 

Comme la voix du vent qui berce les lilas 

ne Rieurt point, mais revient apr^ bien des ann^ 

dans les mfimes lilas qu'on avaJt cm fan6s, 

tes chants, mon cher Samain, reviendront pour bercer 

les enfants que d6j^ mflrissent nos pensto. 

Sur ta tombe, pareil k quelque pAtre antique 
dont pleure le troupeau sur la pauvre colline, 
je chercherais en vain ce que je peux porter, 
Le sel serait mang^ par I'agneau des ravines 
et le vin serait bu par ceux qui font piil6. 

Je songe 4 toi. Le jour baisse comme ce jour 
o^ je te vis dans man vieux salon dc campagne. 
Je songe i toi. Je songe aux montagnes natales. 
Je songe k ce Versaille oil tu me promenas, 
o^ nous disions des vers, tristes et pas k pas. 
Je songe k ton ami et je songe k ta mdre. 
Je songe k ces moutons qui, au bord du lac bleu, 
en attendant la mort bSlaient sur leurs clarines. 

Je songe k toi. Je songe au vide pur des cieux. 
Je songe k I'eau sans fin, d la clart^ des feux. 
Je songe k la rosfc qui brille sur les vignes. 
Je songe k toi. Je songe k moi. Je songe k Dieu. 

It is all in that one line : " Knowing you, I feared 
to wound you." 



Of the six poets whom I have chosen for the sub- 
jects of these essays, it is certain that the one for 
whom Anglo-Saxon readers must feel the least sym- 
pathy is Remy de Gourmont. He is also the one 
who, considered strictly as poet, must be acknowl- 
edged to be the least considerable. Out of the forty- 
one, or so, volumes which he has published, his 
poetry is easily contained in one volume and some 
thirty pages of another. And nowhere among his 
poems is there one which can be considered a master- 
piece. As a masterpiece of pure poetry, I should 
say, for of miisterpieces of cunning verbal nuances 
there are several. 

Why then, it may very well be asked, include him 
among my six poets? Because no one of the later 
period of French literature has been more prominent 
than he, and no one has had a greater influence 
upon the generation of writers that have followed 
his. He has had this influence directly, through his 
poems ; and indirectly, by his critical writings and 
philological studies. 


Six French Poets 

As it used to be said that Meredith was the 
writer's writer, I might say that De Gourmont is the 
poet for poets. He is the great teacher of certain 
effects, the instructor in verbal shades. No one 
has studied more carefully than he the sounds of 
vowels and consonants. Not even from his great 
teacher, Mallarm^, can more be learnt. As a 
producer of colour in words, he cedes to no one ; 
his knowledge of the technique of poetry is un- 

"Poet, critic, dramatist, savant, biologist, philoso- 
pher, novelist, philologian and grammarian," is 
the way the editors of Pontes d'Aujourd'hui style 
him. And really, the extent of his literary activity 
takes one's breath away. Of course, the danger to 
such a man is in the almost inevitable Jack-of-all- 
Trades result which such a multitude of avocations 
trails along with it. It is heresy to whisper such a 
thing, but it cannot really be denied that in only 
one of these branches has De Gourmont made himself 
supreme. But in that he has no equal. The 
aesthetic of the French language (to borrow one 
of his own titles) ; there he is on absolutely indis- 
putable ground. 

Yet it would not be fair to give you the idea that 
he has done merely well along his other lines. Can 
a man so conversant with the art of writing ever 
write merely well ? De Gourmont's novels and tales 
are among the best of the last twenty years, only 

Remy de Gourmont 109 

others have surpassed him ; the same is true of his 
poems. But the way he has written, no one can 
surpass him there ; and we, who try to write, mull 
over his pages for hours at a time, and endeavour to 
learn the lesson which he has analyzed and illus- 
trated for us. Along with that is another lesson, 
written as clearly in his p^es, of what not to do, of 
the necessity for singleness of purpose, of the terrible 
pitfall looming always before the man who is at 
once an artist and an insatiably curious person. 

Great, excessively great, people can do it. Leo- 
nardo da Vinci did it. He pulled the two characters 
along side by side, to the profit of both. But Remy 
de Gourmont has not quite done it, and it is natural 
to suppose that the literary masterpieces he might 
have made have wasted away while he dabbled in 
science. Physique de V Amour is a most interesting 
volume on the sexual instinct in animals. But 
there are many books on the subject by others more 
competent for the task. And I cannot help think- 
ing it a little odd that this should be the only purely 
scientific essay he has written. Interesting though 
it is, contemplated in its place among De Gourmont's 
work as a whole, should we not consider it as an- 
other evidence of that preoccupation with sex which 
has robbed his books of the large view they might 
have had? It cannot be denied that a man who 
plays perpetually upon an instrument of one string is 
confining himself within a very small musical compass. 


Six French Poets 

Is De Gourmont's work so diversified after al" 
Yes, and no. But let us work up to these considera- 
tions gradually, and examine them in their proper 

Remy de Gourmont was bom in the Ch&teau of 
La Motte at Bazoches-en-HouIme, in Normandy, 
on the fourth of April, 1858. He is the descendant 
of a remarkable family of painters, engravers, and 
printers, of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. 
One of the family, Gilles de Gourmont, was the first 
person in Paris to use Greek and Hebrew types in 
printing. On his mother's side, De Gourmont is 
directly descended from the family of Francois de 
Malherbe — the great Malherbe, of whom Boileau 
said, "He was the masterof our great classic writers." 

Of the youth of Remy de Gourmont I know noth- 
ing, as the only real biography of him I have been 
unable to get. But, in 1883, he came up to Paris, 
like all energetic young Frenchmen with intellectual 
tendencies, and obtained a position in the Biblio- 
thdque Nationale. Here he remained until 1891, 
when an article of his called Le Joujou Patriotism 
was too much for the authorities, and he lost his 

His first book, a novel called Merlette, appeared 
in 1886, and very little of his real originality 
appeared in it, although it contained pleasant de- 
scriptions of Normandy, His next book, Sixtine, 
came out in 1890. Its second tide was Roman 


Remy de Courmont in 

de la Vie Ciribrale, and that might stand as sub- 
title for all his work. Oh, the delightful book that 
Sixtine is ! I remember reading it in a sort of 
breathless interest. The hero is a writer, and every- 
thing that happens to him he translates almost 
bodily into his work. Two stories are carried on 
at the same time, the real one and the one he is 
writing. The chapters follow each other with no 
regular order, the reader only knows which story is 
which by the context, and the incidents of the 
written story are sometimes all he leams of the real 
story, which is taken up again later at a point farther 

But what a childish way to tell of a book so full 
of startling revolutionism ! Sixtine is indeed a 
novel of the life of the brain. De Gourmont wishes 
to prove that the world is only a simulacrum, and 
the perception of it hallucinatory. Sixtine is meta- 
physics masking as a story, and Hubert d'Entrague 
is the De Gourmont of the period, with his knowledge, 
his curiosity, and, too, his sensual side. But, incon- 
ceivable undercurrent though it has, it has an appear- 
ance of firm ground. Paris is there, with its quais, 
its Luxembourg, its boulevards, its Museum, its 
Biblioth^que Nationale ; and Normandy is there, 
with its fields and apple orchards. And here is that 
wonderful writing, that gift of words. I will quote 
two passages from it, both in prose. (A poem which 
is also in the book I wish to keep until we reach his 


Six French Poets 

poetry.) The first of these passages is about a sort 
of ghostly apparition which appears in a mirror. 
Notice the colours, and the way the figure is gradually 
drawn out of the glass : 

J'ai vu le portrait. La lime p41e et verte planait dans ma 
chambre ; je venais de me r^veiller et d'obscures et ophidiennes 
visions me hantaient encore. L'oeil fi^vreuK, je regardais autour 
de mov avec defiance. . . . Etais-je dans ma chambre et dans 
mon lit? . . . Peut-6tre. Voil& qu'au-dessus de la cheimn& 
la glace lentement change de teinte : son vert lunaJre, son vert 
d'eau transparente sous des saules s'avive et se dore. On dirait 
qu'au centre de la lueur, comme sur la face m^me de ta lune, 
des ombres se projettent avec des apparences de traits humans, 
tandis qu'autour de la vague figure une ondulation lumineuse 
serpente comme des cheveux blonds d6nou6s et flottants. 

Vert lunaire — those words in ire are favourites 
with De Gourmont, we shall meet them many times. 
Also, the green light of the moon is nice, and, inci- 
dentally, true. 

The other is the description of a Madonna over 
the door of a church in Naples. In the names of the 
unusual stones, we see an evidence of De Gourmont's 
wide knowledge : 

Une eglise de fuyants contreforts, €cT3s6e et lourde, attirait 
d'abord le regard inexperiment^ et par la splendeur de sa Madone 
enrubannfe le fixait. Quand le soleil declinant all ait au fond de 
la niche ogivale la baigner de rayons, les rubis et les peridots de sa 
tiare, les Upidolithes et les topazes, aureole itoilfe, rSv^rbSraient 
r&Jat d'autant d'astres et la figure aux yeux diamentfe extasiait. 

Remy de Gourmonl 113 

)t only do we get the brilliance of the sunset 
lighting up the church and its Madonna, the sound 
is not sacrificed to the picture, extraordinarily vivid 
though that is. Listen to the different vowel sounds 
before the I's in auriole itoilee ; and the s's, and at 
sound, in the last line. 

Properly speaking, these are not poems. They 
are written as prose and intended to be prose, but 
De Gourmont himself has said "beautiful prose 
should have a rhythm which makes one doubt if it 
be prose. Buffon wrote only poems, and Bossuet 
and Chateaubriand and Flaubert." 

In an interview accorded to a representative of 
the Echo de Paris, shortly after the publication of 
Sixtine, De Gourmont says, "They tell me that in 
my recently published novel, Sixiine, I have pro- 
duced Symbolisme. Now behold my innocence. I 
never guessed it. Nevertheless, I learned it without 
great astonishment : unconsciousness plays so large 
a part in intellectual operations. I even believe It 
plays the greatest of all." Certainly, Remy de 
Gourmont had "produced Symbolisme," as uncon- 
sciously as most of the Symbolislcs produced it at 
first. "Symbolisme is an attitude of mind, not a 
school," as Tancr^de de Visan very well says, in his 
L'AUilude du Lyrisme Contemporaine, "a lyric ideal 
in conformity with other tendencies of modern life." 
To understand what this lyric ideal was, and how it 
came about, we must go back a little. No study of 


Six French Poets 

Remy de Gourmont can be complete without taking 
him in connection with the Symboliste movement. 

Poetry, like all art, is organic. It is endowed 
with a life of its own, and must naturally carry within 
it the seeds of evolution and change. Every true 
artistic movement is a necessary movement toward 
maturity. It is as silly to attempt to stop the 
artistic clock, as it was for King Canute to forbid 
the advance of the waves. It is the eternal penance 
of the artist to be in advance of the people. Writ- 
ing to be read (otherwise why write!), the true 
artist can seldom write to suit the taste of the actual 
public. If he lives to a reasonable ^e, the public 
may come round to him, but his beginnings will 
always be looked upon with suspicion. 

Every artist knows this, and yet every artist rails 
against the besotted ignorance of the public, as if 
he were the only person who had ever experienced 
the phenomenon, and his time the only one in which 
It had appeared. 

Remy de Gourmont, and the men of his age, came 
along at the heels of the Romantic Movement. De 
Musset and Hugo were dead, so was Baudelaire, 
who might be called the last of the Romantics. As 
a protest against the somewhat tui^id manner into 
which Romanticism had fallen, a small group of 
men, notably Thfephile Gautier, Lecompte de Lisle, 
and Jos6-Maria de Heredia took to writing poems of 
severe, plastic beauty, deprived of over-rich oma- 

Remy de Courmont 


ment, and delighting by their sharp and beautiful 
contours. Their verses were so cold as to be almost 
frozen into immobility, but instead of Hugo's moral 
preoccupations, they propounded the theory of 
"art for art's sake," then a new and vigorous battle- 
cry. These men form the Pamjissian School. 
Theirs was a protest against fantasticality. And 
extraordinarily different though it appears to be, 
this movement was prompted by the same protest 
which in prose produced first Flaubert, then De 
Maupassant and Zola : the Realistic School of 

The poetry of the Parnassian School is very beau- 
tiful, but it hardly lends itself to the expression of 
all the phases of our complex modem life. Mal- 
larm6, in love with pure sound, could not content 
himself within an art which was almost entirely 
sculpture. Verlaine, choking with emotions, filled 
with lyric despairs, found no relief in carving beau- 
tiful cameos. These men broke away from the 
Parnassian School, and each in his way attempted 
to widen the scope of French poetry. 

Mallarm^ is the great master of the later Sym- 
bolistes. His was an original contribution to French 
poetry. And original contributions, as we shall 
see in a moment, were the foundation stones of the 
Symboliste movement. Mallarmfe formed a theory 
that poetry lies more in the sound of words than 
in their sense. He did not break away from the 


Six French Poets 

classic alexandrine, but made it more undulating and 

V'erlaine had no particular theory except to ex- 
press himself (also a thoroughly Symbolistic point 
of view). But he found this impossible in the shin- 
ing ice of the alexandrine. He fell back to the old 
ballad metres, and Ronsard. He, too, was pre- 
occupied with sound. "De la musique avant toute 
chose," he has said. 

With Mallarm6 and Verlaine the Symboliste move- 
ment may be said to be fairly started. But Mal- 
larmd and Verlaine were not called SymboUstes, at 
first, they were called DScadents, partly because 
Mallarmfi was known to have studied and been 
influenced by the Latin writers of the Decadence, 
partly because these lines appeared in Verlaine's 
first book: 

Je suis TEmpire au fin du Decadence. 

That did it, and the unfortunate and unfair 
appellation was lanced. It was after hearing this 
line recited in a caf^ in the Quarlier Latin, that Paul 
Adam founded a little paper and bravely called it 
La Decadence, and other young men followed with 
another little sheet called Le Dicadent. 

It was a silly name. One of the greatest periods 
of French poetry was the result of these so-called 
Dicadents. Never has there been a more fertile 
moment in any literature. Talents rose to the 

Remy de Gourmont 117 

surface every day. And the great Parisian public 
went about its business quite unconscious, fited 
its Copp6;s, and Octave Feuillets ; and if it 
thought of these new men at all, thought of them 
only to scoff. 'Twas ever thus, and we need not 
be surprised that Paris, clever though she be, is 
not entirely apart from the stream of common 

Naturally, their writings were not welcomed in 
the regular reviews, and the poets were reduced to 
printing little sheets of their own. One of these, 
and one which De Gourmont calls the most singular 
of all, was named La Cravacke. It was a ridiculous 
little paper, where finance alternated with litera- 
ture, and the printer cared very little what went 
into it, provided that the first three pages were 
filled. Georges Lecompte discovered this small 
journal, and with Adolph Rett6 made it one of 
the most curious literary gazettes which it is pos- 
sible to imagine. The contributors were Huysmans, 
Mor^as, Henri de R6gnier, Kahn, Viel6-Griffin, 
Paul Adam, Hennique, Charles Morice, F6n6on, — 
and finally Verlaine. It was in the obscure Cravacke 
that the first version of his volume, Parall&lment, 
appeared. Verlaine had already published Sagesse, 
but still no other journal in Paris was open to his 
poems. In the Cravacke also, Huysmans' study on 
Za Bih^re was printed, and Viel^-Griffin's transla- 
tions of Walt Whitman's poems. 


Six French Poets 

De Gourmont remarks, with what seems to ub, 
aware of the conditions both here and in England, 
a strange optimism : "I believe that only in France 
is such a thing possible. Ten writers and poets of 
talent, of whom one is Verlaine and another Huys- 
mans, to whom all the serious newspapers are closed, 
and practically all the reviews," 

La Cravacke was not the only Httle review ; there 
were a great many others, among them La Vogue, 
La PlSiade, and Le Scapin, this last edited by a 
young man named Alfred Vallette. Toward the 
end of 1889, some one approached De Gourmont and 
asked him to collaborate in a little review to be 
called Le Mercure de France and edited by this 
same Alfred Vallette. He consented, and in so do- 
ing became one of the founders of that now famous 
publication, together with Samain, De R^gnier, and 
all the others of their group. Of course, there was 
no money, and to meet this difficulty so-called 
"Founder's Shares" were issued, at sixty francs a 
share. The founders seem to have been able to 
scrape that up, the richest man among them, Jules 
Renard, buying four. 

The Mercure de France instantly leapt into fame, 
because of a series of satirical ballads by Laurent 
Tailhade, Foil de Carotte by Jules Renard, and the 
delicate verses of Albert Samain. Saint- Pol- Roux, 
who called himself an "idio-rialist," contributed a 
series of short poems in rhythmic prose, notably 

Remv de Goumtoni 


Le Pilerinage de St. A nne. The Mercure also became 
famous for its critics, not the least of these being 
Remy de Gourmont himself. It is interesting to 
note that, until 1914, no number had come out with- 
out something from his pen, either poetry, novel, 
tale, or criticism. 

Since 1895, the Mercure has become the official 
organ of the Symboliste School, But what is the 
Symboliste School ? We have seen what the Deca- 
dents were, and how they started. What changed 
them into Symbolistes? 

Let me quote De Gourmont himself, in the "Pref- 
ace" to the first Livre des Masques: "What does 
Symbolisme mean? If one keeps to its narrow and 
etymological sense, almost nothing ; if one goes 
beyond that, it means : individualism in literature, 
liberty of art, abandonment of existing forms, a 
tending toward what is new, strstnge, and even 
bizarre; it also may mean idealism, disdain of the 
social anecdote, anti-naturalism, a tendency to take 
only the characteristic detail out of life, to pay atten- 
tion only to the act by which a man distinguishes 
himself from another man, and to desire only to 
realize results, essentials; finally for poets, Sym- 
bolisme seems associated with vers Hbre." And 
farther on in the same " Preface," contradicting 
Nordau, who believes that only when conforming to 
existing standards is art sane, De Gourmont says : 
"We differ violently from this opinion. The capital 

I20 Six French Poels 

crime for a writer is conformity, imitation, the sub- 
mission to rules and teaching. The work of a writer 
should be, not merely the reflection, but the enlarged 
reflection, of his personality. 

"The sole excuse which a man can have for writ- 
ing is to write down himself, to unveil for others 
the sort of world which mirrors itself in his individual 
gla»s ; his only excuse is to be original ; he should 
»ay things not yet said, and say them in a form not 
yrt ftirmulateti. He should create his own aesthetics 
— and \vt' should admit as many esthetics as there 
arc original minds, and judge them for what they 
are and not what they are not. Admit then that 
Symbotisme is, even though excessive, even though 
tcmiwatuous, even though pretentious, the expres- 
vion of indtvidiialism in art." As the organ of "the 
expretwiion of individualism in art," the Mercure is 
an up to tiate to-day as it was the year it was 

Kt'my de Gourmont is one of the foremost Sym- 
boiistts then, from every point of view. He has aided 
the movement and flaunted its banner, first uncon- 
M'lnunly, aa we have seen, later consciously. Indi- 
vlduullHin, not only in art, but in everything else, 
hita Ihth hi» crttti. He has welcomed young men 
\\[ Itilt^iU, and Ihtu their encourager and adviser. 
I''i«' hliUHflf. his novels are all "remans de la vie 
I'^lM'tttlt)," thry are pictures of the intimate life of 
IiIn iiwn hriiiii ami personality. He is an intellec- 

E^my de Gourmont 121 

tual ; and his novels, and tales, and poems, are 
intellectual tours deforce. Let us stop for a moment 
and consider this personality, so strangely diverse, 
and yet so unified. 

In an article in the "Weekly Critical Review," M. 
Louis Dumur says of Remy de Gourmont: "With 
him there is nothing which tells of the particularity 
of a province. , . , He is neither Southern, nor 
Breton ; nor is he Parisian. He is a Frenchman of 
France, and even of old France, He belongs a little, 
if you like, to the North, that North which was the 
cradle of the Langue d'Oil, the section which ex- 
perienced most intimately that fusion of Roman, 
Celt, and Frank, from which has come the his- 
tory, the langu^e, and the spirit, of this coimtry 

"One must be lettered to fully appreciate M. de 
Gourmont. His work does not impress itself im- 
mediately upon the simple and ignorant public. 
Nobody, certainly, is more modern than he; but 
his modernity presupposes the past. . . . He is of 
the great literary line; he takes his place naturally 
there, in his own time — traditionzilist, because his 
race sparkles in him; innovator, because there is no 
pleasure in, nor reason for, existing, except in the 
evolution of ideas, of trend, of temperament. If 
one wished to draw the genealogical tree of M. de 
Gourmont, it would not be an absolutely vain 
amusement. To my mind, there would be, in their 

122 Six French Poets 

legidmate order of ascent, Renan, Balzac, Stendhal, 
Chateaubriand, Voltaire, Fenelon, Montaigne; one 
could even put, in spite of his probable protestations, 
Boileau and Vaugelas. This tree would plunge its 
roots on all sides of the Middle Ages, the tap-root 
would be anchored upon scholasticism and theology ; 
the deep soil of Latin antiquity would bear it ; . . . 
the light foreign infiltration would be represented 
first by Italy, and next by the Germany of Nietzsche ; 
on the margin one could add the title to debatable 
quarterings: Villiers de I'lsle Adam, Gerard de 
Nerval, Chamfort , . , and perhaps the Marquis de 

I have quoted M. Dumur at length because I 
thought he presented the many sides of this brilliant 
personality better than I could do. 

Sixtine was followed, in 1892, by Le Latin Mys- 
tique, with a preface by J.-K. Huysmans. This book 
is a study of the Latin writers of the Middle Ages, 
who greatly attracted De Gourmont, as they had 
Mallarm^ and Huysmans. In the poem which 
appeared in Sixtine, and which I did not quote when 
we were considering that book, the influence of the 
Latin mediaeval writers is very evident. It is even 
written in one of their favourite forms called a Se- 
quence. It is an extraordinary thing in its virtuosity. 
Notice the prevalence of the ire sound so beloved by 
him, and the alliterations: 

Remy de Courmont 123 


La trts chfire aux yeux clairs apparait sous la lune. 
Sous la lune 6ph&n^e et m6re des beaux r6ves. 
La lumi^e bleuie par les brumes cendrait 
D'uae poussifere afirienne 

Son front fleuri d'^toiles, et sa l^g^e chevelure 
Flottait dans I'air demure ses pas I^gcrs : 
La chim&re dormajt au fond de ses pmnelles. 
Sur la chair nue et fr6!e dc son cou 
Les stellaires sourires d'un rosaire de perles 
Etageaient les refleU de leurs piles Wairs. Ses poignets 
Avaient des bracelets tout pareils ; et sa tfite, 
La couronne incnistfe des sept pierres mystiques 
Dont les flammes transpercent le cceur comme des glaives, 
Sous la lune ^h^mdre et m&re des beaux rSves. 

Perhaps it was his stay at the Biblioth^que 
Nadonale, perhaps it was his fondness for things 
beautiful and rSckerckd inherited from those old 
engravers and printers of the sixteenth century, at 
any rate De Gourmont published many of his early 
books in limited editions in extremely small format, 
and with special paper and type. His poems, Fleurs 
de Jadis and Hi6roglyphes, came out in that way, 
and also some of his prose books. Fleurs de Jadis 
is called an idition elzhnrienne, and the forty-seven 
copies on Holland paper were each numbered and 
signed by the author. Le Chdteau Singulier, a prose 


Six French Poets 

tale, is "ornamented with thirty-two vignettes in 
red and blue;" a third, L'Ymagier, in "grand 
quarto" with "nearly three hundred engravings, 
reproductions of ancient woodcuts of the fifteenth 
and sixteenth centuries, great coloured pictures, 
pages of old books, miniatures, lithographs, wood- 
cuts, drawings, etc, by Whistler, Gaugin," etc., etc., 
etc. It will be seen that De Gourmont wjis some- 
thing of a bibliographical dandy. And it is a sort 
of literary dandyism which principally appears in 
these early poems. They are extremely interesting, 
but, it must be admitted, a bit precious. At the 
same time that he was publishing these special 
editions, in the early nineties, various others of his 
books were being issued in the ordinary way. 
Among them, the strangest and most successful of 
his poems. Litanies de la Rose. 

A strange thing with Latin writers, and one which 
we, here in America, can never quite accustom our- 
selves to, is the great hold which Catholicism has 
on them. When they are believers, professing 
allegiance to the Church, we can understand it. 
But when they have ceased to believe, we expect 
them to cease to think of the Church at all. On 
the contrary, all the French sceptic writers I have 
read scream their scepticism from the house tops, and 
"go and bang it against the front door." They 
delight in what I am forced to consider a very 
childish form of sacrilege. For De Gourmont to call 

Remy de Gourmont 


his poem a "litany" evidently gave him a piquant 
thrill. We see the same thing in the half-shivering 
delight which Huysmans takes in describing the 
Black Mass in L&-Bas. But Huysmans ended by 
tumbling back into the arras of the Church, so it is 
evident that its hold upon him had never really 
been lost. With De Gourmont, profound believer 
in natural science that he was then, and that he has 
gone on being in a constantly increasing ratio ever 
since, this pleasure in being audaciously impertinent 
to holy things is a little hard to explain. To commit 
the crime of lese-majesty there must be a "Majesty" 
first. To profane a holy thing, you must first admit 
it to be holy ; if you deny the holiness, where is the 
sacrilege? And without the sacrilege, where is the 
fun ? The truth seems to be that, to most French- 
men, Catholicism is more of a superstition than a 
religion. I hardly believe religion, as we conceive 
the term, to be possible to the Latin mind. They 
throw off the superstition violently and flaundngly, 
but, like small boys and their proud denial of the 
existence of the bogey-man, there is always the 
underlying fear that this thing you do not believe in 
may put out a huge claw, some dark night, and scrape 
you in. De Gourmont has his little sacrilegious 
pleasures quite frequentiy, notably in the poem, 
Oraisons Mauvaises, and in various of the stories. 
But I only paused here to note a curious trait in 
the Latin character, and one which is often mis- 


Six French Poets 

understocx], and always thoroughly disliked, by 
Anglo-Saxons. It appears so often in De Gourmont 
and others of the SymboUstes, particularly the prose 
writers, that it seemed necessary to take cognizance 
of it, and put it where it belonged. 

i wish I could quote the whole of Litanies de la 
Rose. Here the author has given roses of fifty-seven 
colours. Nowhere else is his wonderful manipula- 
tion of words so apparent, and his gift for perceiv- 
ing and describing colours so displayed. The poem 
is an astounding profusion of sounds, of pictures, of 
colours, of smells. It is a mixture of artifice and 
spontaneity, "of Heaven and Hell," as a critic has 
said. Each rose is supposed to be a woman, and the 
kind of women can best be shown by the two lines 
with which the poem begins : 

Fleur hypocrite, 
Fleur du silence. 

That De Gourmont has not much opinion of women, 
this poem would seem to prove. But that need not 
matter to us. Some poems are beautiful because 
of what they say, some because of the way they 
say it. De Gourmont describes these unpleasant 
women, compounded of lies and deceits, in a way 
to make one weep with the beauty of the presenta- 
tion. We have : 

Rose aux yeux noirs, miroir de ton n^ant, rose aux yeux noirs, 
fais-nous croire au myst^, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. . . 

Remy de Courmont 127 

Rose couleur d'argent, encensoir de nos rfives, rose couleur 
d'argent, preods notre cceur et fais-en de la fumde, fleur hypo- 
crite, fleur du silence. , . 

Rose vineuse, fleur des tonnelles et des caves, rose vineuse, 
les alcools fous gambadent dans ton haleine : souiSe-nous 
I'horreur de ramour, fleur hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

We have : " Rose en papier de soie," " Rose 
couleur de I'aurore, couleur du temps, couleur de 
rien," "Rose incarnate," "Rose au coeur virginal," 
"Rose couleur du soir," "Rose bleue, rose iridine," 
"Rose escarboucle, rose fleurie au front noir du 
dragon," and this whole stanza again ; 

Rose hyaline, couleur des sources claires jaillife d'entre les 
herbes, rose hyaline, Hylas est mort d'avoir aim^ tes yeuK, fleur 
hypocrite, fleur du silence. 

The poem ends with this stanza : 

Rose papale, rose arrosfe des mains qui b^nissent le monde, 
rose papale, ton cceur d'or est en cuivre, et les lartnes qui perlent 
BUT ta vaine corolle, ce sont les pleures du Christ, fleur hypocrite, 
fleur du silence. 

Fleur hypocrite, 

Fleur du silence. 

A strange ending for a poem which sets out to be 
audacious and sacrilegious. An odd pitiful tender- 
ness is here, and an irony as fine and sad as mist. 

Fletirs de Jadis and Le Dit des Arbres, are the two 
other poems in this pattern. Again they are women, 
but the bitter jabbing is not here. Fleurs de Jadis 

lat Six French Poets 

K buflt round this beautiful, melancholy beginning: 
"Jtf \-ous pr^f^re aux cceurs les plus galants, cceurs 
Irepass^, ciEurs de jadis." Here again De Gour- 
numt shows his erudition, his observation, £ind his 
love for nature. His flowers are beautiful, believ- 
able: "Jonquilles, dont on fit les cils purs de tant 
de blondes fiUcs;" "Aconit, fleur casqu6e de poison, 
guerri^ A plume de corbeau;" "Campanules, 
amoureuses clochettes que le printemps tintinna- 
bulf " (that last has a touch of Heine) ; "Belle-de- 
nuit qui frappas it ma porte, il 6tait minuit, j'ai 
ouvert ma p»rte k la Belle-de-nuit et ses yeux 
flciirissaicnt dans I'ombre;" "Lavande, petite s^ri- 
euiw, odcur de la vertu, . . . chemise k la douzaine 
dana dcs armoires de ch6ne, lavande pas bien md- 
chantv, et si tendre;*' "Alysson, dont la belle &me 
•Vn va toute en chansons." Delicate, lovely, is it 

It ll the same with the trees: "Bouleau, frisson 
de la balgneuse dans roc6an des herbes folles, pen- 
dant que le vent se joue de vos p51es chevelures ;" 
"Sorbler, parasol des pendeloques, grains de corail 
au cou dorfi des gitanes;" "M^leze, dame aux 
triatH pcnaies, parabole accoud^e sur la mine d'un 
mUFt let anugntes d'argent ont tiss^ leurs toiles h 
tiM ureillea ;" " Maronmer, dame de cour en paniers, 
tlumc rn mbc brodde de trifles et de panaches^ dame 
Iniilllc rt belle." 

Dntloulitftlly these three are De Gourmont's 

Remy de Courmont 


finest poems. They, and particularly Litanies de la 
Rose, are the ones to which De Gourmont's admirers 
chiefly refer. I am an admirer of De Gourmont's 
myself, and I prefer these poems to his others. 
They contain more of his original and peculiar 
qualities. But De Gourmont has left them out of a 
collection of his poems called Divertissements, which 
was published in 1914. He has underscored this 
volume Poimes en Vers, which I suppose means 
poems in regular metres. This is what he says 
about it in the " Preface :" " In this collection there 
are very few purely verbal poems, those dominated 
by the pleasure of managing the obliging flock of 
words ; it can easily be understood that forcing 
such obedience has discouraged me in the exact 
measure that I assured myself of their excessive 
docility. Perhaps it will be found that I have ended 
by conceiving the poem under a too despoiled form, 
but that was perhaps permitted to the author of 
Litanies de la Rose, which poem has been rejected for 
a collection that I wished representative of a life 
of sentiment rather than a life of art." The rest of 
the sentence we need not quote, it is very sad, and 
shows De Gourmont at fifty-seven considering him- 
self an old man, and rightly so I fear, with waning 

What does that mean ? That vers libre, which he 
himself considers as one of the most indigenous 
qualities of the Symholiste poet, as we saw in his 


Six French Poets 

Preface to the Livres des Masques, has been win 
him not a conviction, but an experiment? Or that 
this extremely French Frenchman finds himself, now 
that his energies are weakening, atavistically return- 
ing to the traditions of his race? We can only say 
that whatever his theories, vers libre has never seemed 
an irresistible form with him. 

But I am suffering the common lot of biographers 
and writers about Remy de Gourmont, I am get- 
ting side-tracked by first one phase of his genius 
and then another. It is impossible to follow him 
ajherently. His life has been a congestion of intel- 
lectual activities. 

I-et us come back to 1893, or thereabouts. In 
1894, appeared THstoires Magiques, prose stories, and 
in 1894 also, Jliiroglypks, a collection of poems. In 
tliis l)Ook appears the Sequence from Sixtine I read 
you a little while ago, and this poem. Ascension : 


Un Boir, dans la bruy^re d£laiss6e, 

Avcc ramie souriante et lassiSe . . . 

O ioleil, fleur cueillie, ton loiird corymbe 

Anoniso ct descend tout p^e vers les Umbes. 

Ah I li j'l^tuis uvcc ramie lass^, 

Un iiolr, dans la bruyftre d^latssfe 1 

Lm raincttcB, panni les reines des pria 
Bt les roseaux, criaient ^amour^. 

Remy de Gourmonl 131 

LeG scarabees grimpent le long des prSles, 
Les geais bkus font fl^chir les branches frfiles. 
On entendait les cris ^namourfe 
Des rainettes, panni les reines des pr&. 

Un chien, au seuil d'une porte entr'ouverte, 
L^-haut, pleura h. la lune naissante et verte 
Qui rend un peu de joie au ciel aveugle ; 
La vache qu'on va traire s'agite et meugle, 
Un chien pleure i la lune naissante et verte, 
L4-haut, au seuil d'une porte entr'ouverte. 

Pendant que nous montons, I'&me inquiSte 
Et souriante, vers la courbe du falte, 
Le Rfive, demeurt k mi-chemin, 
S'assied pensif, la t^te dans sa main, 
Et nous montons veis la courbe du falte, 
Nous montons souriants, I'Sme inqui^te. 

TTie following years saw the publication of a num- 
ber of books, all in prose, and his first volume of con- 
temporary criticism, Le Litre des Masques. That 
De Gourmont is a poet in his prose, this description 
of Maeterlinck's plays will abundantly prove : 

II y a une He quelque part dans les brouiilards, et dans I'lle 
il y a un chateau, et dans le chateau il y a une grande salle dclai- 
r& d'lme petite lampe, et dans la grande salle il y a des gens 
qui attendent. lis attendcnt quoi? lis ne savent pas. lis at- 
t«ndent que I'on frappe k la porte, ils attendent que la lampe 
s'fteigne, jls attendent la Peur, ils attendent la Mort. lis 


5m: French Poets 

parlent ; oui, ils disent des mots qui troublent tm instant le si- 
lence, puis ils 6coutent encore, laissant leurs phrases inacbev^ et 
leufs gestes interrompus. lis fcoutent, ils attendent. Elle ne 
viendra peut-ttre pas ? Oh ! elle viendra. Elle vient tou jours, 
n est tard, elle ne viendra peut-^tre que demain. Et Ics gens 
assemble dans la grande salle sous la petite lampe se mettent & 
sourire et ilfi vont esp^rer. On frappe. Et c'est tout; c'est 
toute une vie, c'est toute la vie. 

More novels iind tales, a second Livre des Masques, 
and in 1899, another book of poems, Les Saintes du 
Paradis. De Gourmont has succeeded in throwing 
off the superstition, Les Saintes du Paradis might 
have been written by a believer, or by an artist 
using Catholicism merely as decoration. De Gour- 
mont has assured us that with him this latter 
is the case. With simplicity, with charm, these 
saints pass before us. Here are nineteen saints 
stepped out of some old missal, each with her legend 
carefully detailed, and each painted in the beautiful, 
bright colours so dear to the mediseval illuminator. 
In the following "Dedication," they file past us in 
some country of clear pinks and greens, painted by 
Fra Angelico, 

O p&^grines qui cheminez songeuses, 
Songeant peut-^tre i des roses lointaines. 
Pendant que la poussi^e et le soleil des plaines 
Ont br(U6 vos bras nus et votre ame incertaine, 

Remy de Courmont 133 

O p€i6grrnes qui cheminez songeuses, 
Songeant peut-4tre h dea roses lointaines ! 

Voici la route qui mins k la. montagne, 

Voici la elaire fontaine ou fleurissent les baumes. 

Void le bois plein d 'ombre et d 'anemones, 

Void les pios, void la paix, void les dftmes, 

Voici la route qui tntae k la montagne, 

Voici la elaire fontaine oii fleurissent les baumes I 

O p^^grines qui cheminez songeuses, 

Suivez la voix qui vous appellc au del : 

Les arbres oot des feuillages aussi doux que le miel 

Et les femmes au cceur pur y deviennent plus belles. 

p^rfigrines qui cheminez songeuses, 

Suivez la voix qui vous appelle au del. 

Here are the poems on Saint Agatha, martyred 
for her chastity, for refusing the proposals of the 
Sicilian Governor, Quintarius ; on Saint CoUette, 
foundress of seventeen convents of the strict obser- 
vance, and terrible sufferer from her own rigours ; 
on Jeanne d'Arc ; and on Saint Ursula, the English 
saint and teacher, who preferred death at the hands 
of the Hun to violation : 

Joyau trouvS parmi les pierres de la Sidle, 
Agathe, vierge vendue aux revendeuses d'amour, 
Agathe, victorieuse des colliers et des bagues, 

134 -^ French Poets 

Dcs Mpt nibis masques et des tn»s pienes de lime, 

AgaUie, r^jode par le feu des fers rouges, 

Comnie xm amandier par les douces pluies d'autonme, 

Agathe, embanm^ par un jeuae aage vHu de pounn^ 

Agathe, pierre et fer, Agathe, or et argent, 

Agathe, cbevali^ de Malte, 

Sainte Agathe, mettez du feu dans notre sang. 


Douloureuse beauts cach^ dans la pri^, 

Colette, dure & son coeur et plus dure k sa chair, 

Colette pHsonnt^re dans les cloitres amers 

Oil les colliers d'amour sont des chain es de fer, 

Colette qui pour mourir se coucha sur la terre, 

Colette aprSs sa mort rest^e fratche comme une pierre, 

Sainte Colette, que nos cceurs deviennent durs comnie des pierres. 

Berg^ Q^ en Lorraine, 

Jeanne qui avez gardi^ les moutons en robe de futajne, 
Et qui avez pleur^ aux mis^res du peuple de Prance, 
Bt qui avez conduit le Roi k Reims parmi les lances, 
[eanne qui 6tiez un arc, une croix, un glaive, un coeur. une lance, 
leanne que les gens airaaient comme leur p6re et leur m^re, 
,e bless^ et prise, mise au cachet par les Anglais, 
e br&16c h. Rouen par les Anglais, 
e qui ressemblez k un ange en colore, 
eanne d'Arc, mettez beaucoup de colore dans nos ccems. 

Retny de Gourmont 


GriSon du nord, bfite sacree venue 

Dans la liuni^e bleue d'un rtve boreal, 

Ursule, flocon de neige bu par les l&vres de Jfeus. 

UrsuJe, ^toile rouee vers la tulipe de pourpre, 

Ursule, sceur de tant de cceurs innocents, 

Et dont la tfte sanglante dort comme une escarboucle 

Dans la bague des arceaict, 

Ursule, nef, voile, rame et tempSte, 

Ursule, envolde sur !e dos de I'oiseau blanc, 

Sainte Ursule, emportez nos Snies vers les neiges. 

In 1890, appeared the first of De Gourmont's 
philological works, EstkStique de la Langue Franqaise, 
followed, in 1900, by another. La Culture des IdSes. 
Between them, was another novel, Le Songe d'une 
Femme, and in 1900, the last of his poems came out. 
It is entided, Simone, Pohme ChampSlre. There is 
nothing very astounding about Simone, but there is 
a great deal that is very delightful. De Gourmont 
is doing something more than play with words. 
Here he makes his words subordinate themselves to 
feeling, to sentiment. We no longer have the 
artificial and learned vers libre of Litanies de la Rose, 
and FkuTs de Jadis, nor the long, quiet, uneven 
lines of Les Saintes du Paradis — eleven, thirteen, 
sometimes nineteen syllables in length. For the 
first time, De Gourmont tries more tripping metres, 
metres of a sharp, light rhythm. It seems as though 


Six French Poets 

a greater interior calm had left him room for simple 
gayer-hearted joys. 

I have chosen a great many poems from Sitnone 
to print. They almost say themselves, and as you 
read you can see the clouds sailing over the trees 
imder which we are sitting, and hear " the shepherd's 
clapping shears," as Leigh Hunt has it. Notice, in 
Les Ckeveux, how, under the guise of a love poem, 
De Gourmont has given us all the flora of his coun- 
tryside, and with the same matter-of-fact, and yet 
somehow bewitching, statement, which is a pecul- 
iarity of the old herbals : 

Simone, il y a un grand myst^ 
Dans la forfit de tes cheveiix. 

Tu sens le fob, tu sens la pierre 

Oi des bet«s se sont posfe; 

Tu sens le cuir, tu sens le \A6, 

Quand il vient d'etre vann^ ; 

Tu sens ie bois, tu sens le pain 

Qu'on apporte le matin ; 

Tu sens les fleurs qui ont poussd 

Le long d'un mur abandonn6 ; 

Tu sens la ronce, tu sens !e lierro 

Qui a €t6 lav6 par la pluie ; 

Tu sens le jonc et la fougfire 

Qu'on tauche i la tomb& de la nuit ; 

Remy de Gourmont 137 

Tu sens le houx, tu sens la mousse, 

Tu sens I'herbe mourante et rousse 

Qui s'^gr^ne a I'ombre des haies; 

Tu sens I'ortie et le genfit, 

Tu sens le trfifle, tu sens le lait ; 

Tu sens le fenouil et I'anis ; 

Tu sens Ics noix, tu sens les fruits 

Qui sont bien mflrs et que Ton cueille ; 

Tu sens le saule et le tilleul 

Quand Lis ont des fleurs pleins les feuilles ; 

Tu sens le nuel, tu sens la vie 

Qui se promtee dans les prairies ; 

Tu sens la terre et la riviSre ; 

Tu sens I'amour, tu sens le feu. 

Simone, il y a un grand myst^ 
Dans la forCt de tes cheveux. 

It is the sEime in this next poem, only here the 
presence of Simone has become more a part of 
the beauty. In spite of the quite usual temper of 
the poem, where only April, first throwing down the 
violets and then thrusting them under the brambles, is 
in the least new, it has a feeling of complete freshness : 


Simone, le soleil rit sur les feuiUea de houx : 
Avril est revenu pour jouer avec nous. 

II porte des corbeilles de fleurs sur ses ^paules, 

II les donne aux Opines, aux marronniers, aux saules; 


Six French Poets 

n les sdme une k 
Sur le bord des 

parmi I'herbe des pr^, 

des mares et des fosses ; 

n garde les jonquilles pour I'eau, et les pervenches 
Pour les bois, aux eadroits oil s'allongeat les branches; 

II jette les violettes k Tombre, sous les ronces 

Od son pied nu, sans peur, les cache et les enfonce ; 

A toutes les prunes il donne des plquerettes 

Et des primev^res qui ont im collier de docbettes ; 

n laisse les muguets tomber dans les for6ts 
Avec les anemones, le long des sentiers frais ; 

n plante des iris sur le toit des maisons, 
Et dans notre jardin, Simone, oil il fait bon, 

n r^pandra des ancolies et des pens^es, 
Des jacinthes et la bonne odeur des girofldes. 

Le BrouiUard is a pure lyric. It is not highly 
original in either thought or expression. But its 
simplicity is so sincere that its lack of originality 
makes really no difference. Here are the first two 

Simone, mets ton manteau et tes gros sabots noirs, 
Nous irons comme en barque k travers le brouillard. 

Remy de Gourmont 139 

Nous irons vers les ties de beauts o^ les femmes 

Sont belles comme des arbres et nues comme des 3me& ; 

Nous irons vers les ties 06 les hommes sont doux 

Comme des lions, avec des cheveus longs et roux. 

Viens, le monde iticr6^ attend de notre rfive 

Ses lois, ses joies, les dieiw qui font fleurir la sfive 

Et le vent qui fait luire et bniire les feuilles. 

Viens, le monde innocent va sortir d'un cercueil. 

Simone, mets ton manteau et tes gros sabots noirs. 
Nous irons comme en barque &. travers le brouillard. 

Nous irons vera les lies o^ il y a des montagnes 

D'oi Ton voit I'^terdue paisible des campagnes, 

Avec des animaux heureux de brouter ITierbe, 

Des bergers qui ressemblent k des saules, et des gerbes 

Qu'on monte avec des fourches sur le dos des charrettes : 

II fait encore Eoleil et les moutons s'arrttent 

Prte de ratable, devant la porte du jardin. 

Qui sent la pimprenelle, I'estragon et le thym. 

Simone, mets ton manteau et tes gros sabots noirs, 
Nous irons comme en barque ^ travers le brouillard. 

Much more unusual, much more important, is Les 
Feuilles Mortes, with its wistful refrain. How 
beautiful is the line of the dead leaves which "font 
un bruit d'ailes ou de robes de femme !" 

Six French Poets 


s an bois : Les feuUIes sont tomb^es ; 

Bht wco tt Treot h 

les pierres el les sentiers. 

u le bruit des pas sur les feuilles □ 

s ont des coukurs si thmces, des tons si graves, 
s soot sur la teire de si frSles ^paves ! 

le bniit des pas sur les feuilles mortes ? 

Eltes on I'air si dolent k Itieure du cr^puscule, 

Elles crient si tendrement, quand le vent les bouscule ! 

Simone, aimes-tu le bruit des pas sur les feuilles mortes? 

Quand le pied les &rase, elles pleurent comme des imes, 
EUes font ua bruit d'ailes ou de robes de fenune. 

Simone, aimes-tu le bruit des pas sur les feuilles mortes ? 

Viens : nous serons un jour de pauvres feuilles mortes. 
Viens : d^j4 la nuit tombe et le vent nous emporte. 

Simone, aimes-tu le bruit des pas sur les feuilles mortes? 

Truly, in reading these poems, we go from one 
pleasant country scene to another, and step from 
season to season of the bucolic year. Not the least 
interesting part of them is the new side they show 

Remy de Gourmont 141 

us of De Gourmont's complex character. Here is the 
river, which sings "un air ing^nu." One can almost 
hear its clear rippling over a pebble bottom, so flow- 
ing is the movement of the poem ; and what a 
youthful, happy line he has given us in "Et moi, je 
verrai dans I'eau claire ton pied nu." 

Simone, la rivi^ chante un air ingteu, 
Viens, nous irons paraii ks joncs et la cigufi; 
n eat midv : les hommes ont quitt^ leur charrue, 
Et moi, je verrai dans I'eau claire ton pied nu. 

La riviere est la m^re des poissons et des fleurs, 
Des arbres, des oiseaux, des parfums, des couleurs ; 

EUe abreuve les oiseamt qui ont inang^ leur grain 
Et qui vont s'envoler pour un pays lointain ; 

Elle abreuve lea mouches bleues dont le ventre est vert 
Et les araign^ d'eau qui rament comme aux galores. 

La riviere est la mfire des poissons : elle leur donne 
Des vermisseaux, de I'herbe, de I'air et de I'ozone ; 

Elle leur donne I'amour; elle leur donne les ailes 
Pour suivre au bout du monde I'ombre de leur femelles. 

La riviere est la mfere des fleurs, des arcs-en-ciel, 
De tout ce qui est fait d'eau et d'un peu de soleil : 


Six French Poets 

Bile nourrit le ntnfoin et le fom, et les mnes 
Dm prfa qui oat rodenr do iniel, et ka 

Qui ont dw feuillca douce* ooinme an davtX. d'a 
RIIp nourrit la bit. le trMe et lea re 

Bll* nourrit le chanvre ; eUc nourrit le Bn ; 
61l» ttuurrit I'ftvoine, I'orge et le larrasin; 

ttltr ntHirrik U Higle. I'oeter et lei p 

VHW nmittll W UitlM et lea grands peui^iefs. 

U itvlAi^ Ml U RiAro do foreu : les beaox dtaes 
Out |*til*<l lUnR Hon lit I'eau pore de letm nam. 

Id) rlvlAre (^tmde le ciel : quand la phiie tomfae, 
@V«t[ lit rIvUr* <)ul moflte an cid et qm retombe; 

fid tlVlDre Mt une mtre trit puisuiite et tris pore, 
U rIvUr* Mt U mire de toate la nature. 

^UWnw, la rlvi^ chante un air ing^iu, 
VlMM, rKfua irons panni les joncs et la ague, 
II Ml midi : lea tiommes ont quitt^ letir chamie, 
1(1, frifjl, le verrai dans I'eau claire ton pied nu. 

(till iff ttll of these poems, I prefer Le Verger. The 
riiulr" U irreniiitible, and Hits along like a gay tune. 
0(M' irtd liiirdly resist the pleasure of reading it 
tlliHJil, aiu\ tlit-n — reading it again. The tune gets 

Remy de Gourmont 143 

into one's head, and one goes about for half a day, 

murmuring : 

Allons au verger, Simone, 

Allons au verger. 

Yes, Remy de Gourmont is a many-sided man 


Simone, allons au verger 
Avec xm panier d'osier. 
Nous dirons k nos pommiers, 
En entrant dans le verger : 
Void la saison des pommes, 
Allons au verger, Simone, 
Allons au verger. 

Les pommiers sont pleins de gudpes. 
Car les pommes sont tr^ miires : 
II se fait xm grand mtumure 
Autour du vieux doux-aux-v6pes. 
Les ponmiiers sont pleins de pommes, 
Allons au verger, Simone, 
Allons au verger. 

Nous cueillerons la calville, 
Le pigeonnet et la reinette, 
Et aussi des ponunes k cidre 
Dont la chair est xm peu doucette. 
Voici la saison des ponunes, 
Allons au verger, Simone, 
Allons au verger. 

Six French Poets 

Ta auras I'odeur des pommes 

Sur ta robe et sur Ws mains, 

Et tes cheveiw seront pleins 

Ehi parfum doui: de rautomne. 

Les ponuiiiers sont pleins de pommes, 

Allons au verger, Simone, 

Allons au verger. 

Simone, tu seras mon verger 

Et mon pommier de doux-atu-v6pes ; 

Simone, ^carte les gu£pes 

De ton coeur et de mon verger. 

Void la saison des pommes, 

Allons au verger, Simone, 

Allons au verger. 

Following Simone in Divertissements, is a group of 
poems called Paysages Spiriluelles. The one I am 
going to quote bears the date 1898, and although it 
therefore precedes the publication of Simone, it does 
not really precede it. for Simone was written in 1892. 

Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne, 
L'automne humide et n 
M)us les feuilles des ci 
Et loa fruits mdrs des ^glantiers 
Sont rouges comme des boisers, 
VieoB, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne. 


Remy de Gourmont 145 

Viens, mon amie, le rude automne 

Serre son manteau et frissonne 

Mais le soleil a des douceurs ; 

Dans Tair 16ger comme ton cceur, 

La brume berce sa langueur, 

Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est Tautomne. 

Viens, mon amie, le vent d'automne 
Sanglote comme tme personne. 
£t dans les buissons entr'ouverts 
La ronce tord ses bras pervers, 
Mais les chines sont toujours verts, 
Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne. 

Viens, mon amie, le vent d'automne 
Durement gronde et nous sermonne, 
Des mots sifflent par les sentiers, 
Mais on entend dans les halliers 
Le doux bruit d'ailes des ramiers, 
Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne. 

Viens, mon amie, le triste automne 
Aux bras de lliiver s'abandonne, 
Mais llierbe de V6t6 repousse. 
La demi^ bruy^ est douce, 
Et on croit voir fleurir la mouses, 
Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne. 

Viens, mon amie, viens, c'est I'automne, 
Tout nus les peupliers frissonnent, 


146 Six French Poets 

Hdi lenr feninage n'est pas mart ; 
Gonflast sa robe coulear d'or, 

Viens, woa amie, vims, c't 

Almost a return to the old ballad form, you see. 
So he works out his destiny, at once modem and 
rooted to the past. 

After Simone came more philolf^y. Le Cketnin 
de Velours, and Le ProbUme du Style. Then his one 
scientific essay, Physique de V Amour, in which if 
there were space I could show that he is always a 
poet, as well in science as in criticism. Then follow 
the four volumes of literary essays, Promenades 
Littiraires, and the three volumes of Promenades 
PhUosQphiques. Four volumes of Epilogues, which 
are reflections on current topics, and two more novels, 
Vne Nuit au Luxembourg, and Un Ceeur Virginal. 

What can one say of such a man ? How classify 
him ? How measure the extent of his accomplish- 
ment, of his influence? In one short chapter it is 
impossible. I have only considered him as a poet. 
And in spite of his tales, his novels, hts plays, his 
criticisms, and his essays, I believe him to be first 
of all a poet. He has said somewhere, "I write to 
clarify my ideas." The artist has been crowded 
out by the thinker, the seeker after truth. Has 
that been a misfortune ? Who knows. 



Henri de Regnier is universally considered the 
greatest of the Symboliste poets. And if we exclude 
Emiie Verhaeren from the list, as having stepped 
beyond the school and into a newer ^e, and exclude 
Jammes and Fort, as belonging to a younger genera- 
tion, there is no doubt about it. Who are the other 
Symbolistes, strictly speaking? Verlaine and Mal- 
larm6 were the starters, the masters ; but who were 
the men who looked up to them, and followed them, 
and became the Symboliste School, so-called ? They 
are VieU-Griffin, Stewart Merrill (both, amusingly 
enough, Americans), Gustave Kahn, Albert Samain, 
Remy de Gourmont, Jean Mor6as, Saint-Pol-Roux, 
etc, etc. Clearly, Henri de R6gnier is far above 
them all. But he is even more than that, he is 
one of the great poets of France ; no greater than 
his master, Mallarm^, be it granted, but as great. 
Only, and here comes in the strangest thing about 
him, he is an even greater novelist. Such a novelist 
as there can be only a dozen or so in any nation's 
history. Hugo, Stendahl, Balzac, Flaubert, Zola, 


Six French Poets 

Anatole France, is he inferior to any of these ? Per- 
haps we are too near him to be able to tell definitely, 
but the general opinion of critics would seem to be 
that he is their equal. 

Yet, so far as I know, none of his books have been 
translated into English. Is this because of a cer- 
tain Rabelaisian gusto in some of them, and a 
thoroughly Gallic quality in all ? Perhaps. The 
educated public can read them in French; the un- 
educated public, possibly, would not understand 
them in any language. But the "Gallicisms" are 
no more in number, and hardly more audacious, 
than those of Anatole France. Still, Anatole France 
is known to everybody, while De R^gnier's name is 
only vaguely familiar. Yet this man is one of the 
Immortals, having been elected to the Academy in 
1911, and is an acknowledged master of French 
prose, receiving the mantle slowly dropping from 
the shoulders of Anatole France ! 

Henri de R^gnier is still a comparatively young 
man ; although perhaps I should qualify that, as 
poetry seems to be, for some strange reason, a young 
man's job, and say that he is only on the edge of 
middle age, having just passed his fifty-first birth- 
day. For Henri-Frangois-Joseph de R^gnier was 
bom at Honfleur on the twenty-eighth of December, 

The De R^gniers are an old aristocratic family, 
and Henri de R6gnier is the product of a race, if 

Henri de R^gnier 151 

ever a man was. The lives and exploits of his 
ancestors seem like a page out of one of his own 
seventeenth century novels. And the polish and 
reserve which characterize all his books have as 
certainly descended to him, as has his cold and 
somewhat haughty expression, and his exceedingly 
delicate features. In 1585, a certain Crespin de 
R^gnier was a Seigneur of Vigneux in Thi6rache, 
and as captain of a company of fifty men-at-arms, 
he served under the Due de Bouillon and Marshall 
de Balagny in the wars of the Ligue. In 1589, this 
gentieman married Yolaine de Fay d'Athies, a 
daughter of Charles de Fay d'Athies, one of the 
Hundred Gentlemen of the King's Household, The 
grandson of Crespin, Charles de R^gnier, also had 
the title, and seems beside to have been an equerry 
at the Court. In the eighteenth century, Frangois 
de R^gnier was a Lieutenant-Colonel in the Regi- 
ment of Touraine, and Brigadier in the King's army, 
and a Chevalier of Saint Louis. {Le Bon Plaisir, 
one of Henri de R6gnier's novels, which deals with 
this period, is dedicated to him.) In the eighteenth 
century also, there is a Gabriel-Francois de R^gnier, 
who was Brigadier of Light Horse in the King's 
Guard ; and his son Frangois de R6gnier who was 
Captain in the Regiment of Royal Dragoons. Both 
these men were Chevaliers of Saint Louis. When 
the Revolution came, Francis de R^gnier emigrated 
and served in the Army of the Princes. His son 


Six French Poets 

(the grandfather of the poet) returned to France 
in 1820, and was made a Chevalier of the L^on 
of Honour. The f>oet's father, Henri-Charles de 
R^nier, held various posts under the government, 
among others Inspector of Customs at Honfleur, and 
Receiver at Paris ; and (and this is an odd thing), 
he was the boyhood companion of Gustave Flaubert. 

On his mother's side, Henri de R6gnier's lineage 
is no less distinguished, his mother being descended 
from a certain Yves de Bard, who lived in the six- 
teenth century. The great-grandson of this Yves 
de Bard married, in 1662, Marie de Saumaise de 
Chassans, who was the great-grandniece of a cele- 
brated savant, Claude de Saumaise, and of Charlotte 
de Saumaise, who became Comtesse de Br6gy. and 
wjis lady-in-waiting to Anne of Austria. This lady, 
although only a many-times-grandaunt of Henri de 
R^gnier, seems to have counted for something in his 
inheritance, as she wrote "Letters" and "Poems," 
and was a pricieuse of distinction. The De Bard 
family continued, throughout the seventeenth and 
eighteenth centuries, accruing to themselves lands 
and surnames, and the great-great-grandfather of 
the poet, B^nigne du Bard de Chassans, was a 
Counsellor of the Parliament of Dijon. 

I have dwelt so long upon these fatiguing genea- 
logical details, because no one can really under- 
stand Henri de R^gnier out of his frame — that 
frame of noble, honourable, virile, cultivated sol- 

Henri de Rignier 153 

■s, courtiers, and gentlemen, which surrounds 
him on all sides, and which he, himself, seems to 
be so atavistically conscious of. One of his novels, 
Le Passi Vivant, deals with the strong, almost 
terrible, impulsion of the past. And objective as all 
Henri de R^gnier's work is, I cannot help thinking 
that in Le Passi Vivant we have an acknowledgement 
of a condition of which he is perfectly conscious in 
himself, although, of course, in a lesser degree than 
he has portrayed it in his characters. But it is not 
only in Le Passi Vivant that we feel the importunate- 
ness of the Past ; it vibrates like a muffled organ- 
point through all his work. 

Yet I must be careful not to gr\'e the impression 
that De R^gnier is merely the result and echo of 
dead generations. So many people are that ; and 
here, in America, in spite of the generations being 
still so few, we see it eating through the present 
like a disease. This old French, decadent aristoc- 
racy, as we are wont to consider it, seems to main- 
tain itself with extraordinary ease and success. 
After four hundred years, not of steady rising, but 
(much more difficult problem) continued arisen, 
this family has produced one of the greatest poets 
and novelists which its country has known. Seven 
volumes of poetry, fifteen volumes of novels and 
stories (and all, mind you, works of the very first 
remk), one play, and three volumes of essays, is his 
tally up to date. And the mjin is only fifty-one 1 


Six French Poets 

Why ! No 8te%'edore could work so hard ! It is 
colossal. And this man is a scion of an old aristo- 
cratic (ainiiy! 

Until he was se\-en years old, Henri de R^nier 
lived at Honfleur. In one of his stories, Le Trifle 
Blanc, he has given some of his early recollections. 
"This time of my life," he says, "has remained 
singularly present to my memory, and I feel it still 
in a quite particular way. It is as though it n'ere 
in suspense n-ithin me, and forms an indissoluble 
whole," He remembers the minutest details. For 
instance, he went with his mother to stay with his 
grandfather who was dying. Being left much to 
himself, he wandered about and initiated himself 
into all the mysteries of the old house. He tells of 
"the walls scaling ;" of "the bulging of the canvas 
of an old portrait, the cracks in the console, a sliver 
of the parquet floor which gave under the foot, 
all the imperceptible nothings which I have never 
forgotten, all the noises of life and ^ence to which 
I was attentive." 

In 1871, Henri-Charles de R^gnier, the poet's 
father, was appointed Receiver at Paris. And the 
family moved there. Three years later, in 1874, 
Henri entered the College Stanislas, and he seems 
to have written his first poem in 1879. Fifteen 
years old is not young to attempt writing, and we 
may feel at ease in the knowledge that De Rfegnler 
was not an infant phenomenon. There is a tale 


Henri de Rignter 


that one of his professors, catching him writing a 
poem, at once confiscated it. Schoolmasters would 
seem to be the same brilliant, sympathetic lot all 
over the world. But, thank Heaven, our minds do 
get fed somehow, In spite of the schools. In De 
R^gnier's case, there were the quais, with their rows 
of green boxes full of books — delightful, hetero- 
geneous masses of books, classified only by their 
state of dilapidation. Trees blowing, blue river, 
spots of bright sunshine, and books ! Going to 
school and coming back, De R6gnier read them, any 
of them that happened. There was a reading-room 
in the rue de Sl^vres where he went also, and again 
read everything : Hugo, De Musset, Flaubert, the 
tragedies of the eighteenth century, and Voltaire's 
plays. He says now that in those days he liked 
bad poetry better than good, and perhaps he did. 
But all nourished him, and helped him over that 
most dangerous period for a possible writer — his 

He graduated in 1883, and to please his family 
studied law, and passed an examination for the 
Diplomatic Service. But that was the end of all 
thought of, or endeavour about, any career other 
than letters. During this time he had been writing, 
and his first verses appeared in a little review, 
Lulice, under the pen-name of Hughes Vignix, so 
turning his admiration for Victor Hugo and Alfred 
de Vigny into a sort of monogram. 


Six French Poets 

Another young man made his literary dibut in 
Luthce with Henri de R^gnier. This was Francis 
Viel6-Griffin. There was a fencing gallery next 
door to the office of LutSce, where the young con- 
tributors used to disport themselves. An amusing 
joke of the period had it that they leamt to fight 
in order to kill their predecessors. For, as we saw 
in the last essay, these young writers were firmly 
against the established order, and the established 
order took it out by not acknowledging their 

De R^gnier, like Samain, had a desire to meet 
great men, to wear himself smooth by contact with 
mature minds. Timidly, but firmly, he hazarded 
a call upon Sully-Prudhomme. He was courteously 
received, and continued in pleasant relations with 
the elder poet until De Rfegnier's adherence to vers 
libre separated them. 

It was a very quiet, retired life that De R^gnier 
led at this time. Reading, studying, learning how. 
He was thoroughly serious in his work, in his art. 
He read much Victor Hugo, a master soon to be 
deserted by his generadon. He also read Baude- 
laire, De Vigny, Mallarmfe, and the sonnets of Josd- 
Maria de Heredia, not yet published, but appearing 
from time to time in journals and reviews. Another 
side of his character drew him to memoirs, novels, 
books which depicted and analyzed life. He has 
explained himself as he was then, by saying, " I was 

Henri de Regnier 


in some sort double, Symboliste and Rktlisle, loving 
symbols and anecdotes at the same time, a poem 
of Mallarm^'s or an idea of Cham fort's." De 
R6gnier has remained Symboliste and Realiste, neither 
side of his character has entirely dominated the 
other, but time has strengthened the realism until 
it makes a strong and correct base on which the 
light form of Symbolisme can safely stand. 

In spite of his realistic leanings, Henri de Regnier 
was principally Symboliste and poet, in these youth- 
ful days. If he did not begin writing extraordinarily 
young, he certainly began publishing in the very 
green leaf. He left college as we have seen, in 1883, 
at the ^e of nineteen, and his first book, Les LendC' 
mains, was published in 1885, when he was twenty- 
one, and in 1886, a second collection of poems, 
Apaisement, came out. 

There is nothing very remarkable in these early 
poems; they show good masters, careful study, and 
a pleasant imagination. Considering the extreme 
youth of their author, they gave excellent promise. 
The theory that a man should serve his apprentice- 
ship in silence, and not give his early work to the 
public, is a disputable one. The Paris of De 
R^gnier's youth was full of young men of remarkable 
talent ; it was full of little reviews publishing the 
work of these young men. If their circulation was 
small, at least it was select. It consisted of all the 
other revolutionary poets, young and old. Printing, 


5m; French Poets 

publishing, a young man made friends and opene< 
doors. Had De R^gnier kept his early work shut 
up between the covers of his portfolio, he might have 
leapt from his obscurity a few years later armed 
cap-d-pie like Minerva from the head of Jove, but 
his future would have been harder to make. Coteries 
would have been formed without him, places he 
might have had would have been given to others, 
bands of early friendships would have kept him 
outside as a late comer. No, we must admit that 
De R6gnier did well to publish these two little 
volumes and the two which succeeded them : Sites, 
in 1887, and Episodes, in 1888. But why his pub- 
lishers keep them in print is more difficult of 
comprehension. Yet these poems suggest the De 
R^gnier of later years. Take this, for instance : 

J'ai riv€ que ces vers seraient cooime des fleurs 
Que fait toumer la main des mattres ciseleurs 
Autour des vases d'or aux savantes empleurs. 

It was not a bad prophecy. His poems are like the 
flowers of master carvers. And the words, "gold 
vases," are almost the keynote of his work. Remy 
de Gourmont, in the fir^t Livre des Masques, men- 
tions his fondness for the words or and mort. And 
whether we take vases d'or as sound or as sense, it 
might almost stand as a device in front of any 
volume of his poems. 

The point of view of his group, and his particular 


Henri de Rignier 


place in it, has been excellently rendered by M. Jean 
de Gourmont, one of De R6gnier's biographers- 
Speaking of the Symboliste group, he says, "all the 
poets of this group, shut up within their particular 
symbols, described . . ■ the interior of their prison. 
M. de R^gnier's prison is a palace with onyx columns ; 
he walks up and down the length of galleries wain- 
scoted with gold. Large windows open upon nature 
and life ; he leans out and looks at the spectacle." 

That palace with onyx columns we shall see again, 
and again, and again. It is one of the truest things 
ever said about Henri de Rignier. 

At this time, St^phane Mallarm^ was becoming 
every moment more certainly the acknowledged 
master of these younger writers, soon to be knowTi 
as Symbolisles. He held a sort of salon on Tuesdays, 
and received his disciples and admirers. He sat in 
a "rocking-chair," under his own portrait by Manet, 
and talked. (I believe a rocking-chair to be a purely 
American invention, and it must be a matter of 
national pride for us to feel that we have not only 
given the French poets Poe and Walt Whitman, 
whom they understood and admired before we did, 
but that we have given one of them at least a 
"rocking-chair,") Sitting in comfortable and rhyth- 
mic ease — rocking, in fact — and smoking a little, 
cheap, red clay pipe, Mallarmd would hold forth; 
and en all the poets who heard him, these Tuesdays 
stamped an indelible mark. 


Six French Poets 

The Tuesdays were in full swing when De Rfignier 
began to publish in the little reviews. Soon his 
■work attracted the attention of some of the men 
who frequented them, and soon De R^gnier, too, 
was among the constant visitors to the rue de Rome. 
For many years he went there practically every 
week. There is a story that one day, full of emotion, 
he turned to the Master and said "I am beginning 
my tenth year." M. Stuart Merrill informs us that 
at these meetings De R^gnier acted as a sort of 
leader of the chorus ; that he always occupied the 
same place, on a sofa at Mallarmfe's right, and 
whenever the great poet's monologue languished a 
little, he would put in the happy word which started 
it going again. 

There is no doubt that these long conversations 
count for much in the education of an artist. Per- 
haps that is one reason the French succeed so mar- 
vellously in Art; they talk so well. 

In 1887, a new review was started under Ren6 
Ghil, called Les Ecrits pour I'Art. Mallarm6 and 
VilUers de I'Isle-Adam were its Great Masters. 
Beside them, were Emile Verhaeren, Stuart Merrill, 
VieU-Griffin, and Henri de R^gnier. 

It was sometime about 1888, that De R6gnier made 
the acquaintance of Jos6-Maria de Heredia, whose 
receptions at the Biblioth^ue de I'Arsenal were 
crowded with all the literary celebrities of the day. 
De R^;gnier met Leconte de Lisle there, and Mau- 

Henri de Rignier 


passant — a Maupassant already sinking, and a 
prey to auditory hallucinations. 

Heredia had three daughters, all fond of poetry, 
and perfectly au courant with the literary work of 
the day. His second daughter, Marie, even wrote 
verses herself, and now as "G6rard de Houville" is 
known as a poet of much talent. Henri de R6gnier 
was introduced to Mile. Marie de Heredia at one 
of the gatherings at her father's house. Mutual 
interests naturally brought them together, and in 
1896 they were married. I mention this now, be- 
cause it seems to follow naturally after De R^gnier's 
meeting with Heredia, and there is nothing to cause 
us to remember it at the proper time. De R6gnier 
is evidently very reticent about his private life. He 
has the aristocrat's natural love of privacy. Jean 
de Gourmont says in his little monograph, "Of M. 
de R6gnier's life I only know some episodes, some 
facts, which he has discreetly revealed to me." We 
must not forget that De R^nier is still living, and 
that he is doing so in a country where privacy is 
both honoured and respected. 

A younger brother of the Mercure de France, Les 
Entretiens Poliltques el LiitSraires, •withViel&Griffin 
as editor, was started somewhere about 1890. De 
Rfegnier became one of its most enthusiastic contribu- 
tors. Most of the stories, later collected under the 
title. La Canne de Jaspe, appeared in it, and various 
essays and criticisms which are now to be found in 


Six French Poets 

the volume, Figures et Caractires. De Rfignier also 
contributed to a number of other reviews, among 
them La Wallonie, of which he, Albert Meckel, and 
Pierre-M. Olin, were the editors. 

Up to this time, De R^gnier's life may have been 
said to be in the experimenting stage. He was 
laboriously shaping himself into a writer, as it were, 
working with that indefatigable assiduity which 
has always characterized him. From 1890, with the 
publication of Pohmes Anciens et Romanesques, his 
life enters upon another period, the period of con- 
stantly increasing accompUshment. In Poimes An- 
dens et Romanesques, De R6gnier steps out of the 
shell of which his four previous volumes were only 
chippings, and is hatched a full-grown poet. He 
attempts other metres than the alexandrine, he even 
essays the uneven vers libre. built not upon metre 
but upon cadence, which is to be his most charac- 
teristic form, and in which he surpasses every other 
French writer. Viel6-Griffin and Stuart Merrill 
were Americans, Verhaeren was a Belgian, and one 
of the retorts flung at the vers libristes used to be, 
that the reason they could find this form agreeable 
was that they were foreigners and therefore had not 
the peculiar sensitiveness of the native ear. And 
behold, here was a Frenchman even among French- 
men, who not only understood and liked it, but 
wrote it better, more delicately, more audaciously, 
than any one else. Not even Verhaeren could 


Henri de Rignier 


variously manipulate it, more certainly 
guide it. 

But it is not in the Poimes Anciens et Roman- 
esques that I first wish my readers to encounter De 
R^gnier's vers libre. I shall keep that for a later 
volume, where it is in its magnificent maturity. 

Henri dc Rcgnier is "a melancholy and sumptuous 
poet," as Reniy de Gourmont has said. In the first 
Livre des Masques appears the following description : 
"This man" (De Rcgnier) "lives in an old Italian 
palace, where emblems and figures are written on 
the walls. He dreams, passing from room to room ; 
toward evening he descends the marble staircase 
and wanders about the gardens, which are paved 
like courts, to dream among the basins and foun- 
tains, while the black swans seek their nests, and a 
peacock, solitary as a king, seems to drink superbly 
of the dying pride of a golden twilight." 

You notice that this is really the palace with the 
onyx pillars again ! It is strange how the same idea 
seems to occur to everyone about De Rcgnier. Per- 
haps it is because he, himself, has described so many 
beautiful old houses, so many formal gardens d la 

Henri de Regnier is the poet of sadness, of gentle 
melancholy, particularly in his early books. He is 
also the poet of the nude. He almost attains the 
chaste and cool treatment of Greek statues. Prob- 
ably it is this similarity of point of view which makes 

t64 Six French Poets 

idm so often choose mythological subjects. But 1 
am far from suggesting that his attitude is really 
Greek, in the historical and pedantic meaning of that 
term, but neither is it the sort of .\ngelica Kauffmaon 
pastiche of Samain's Aux Plants du Vase. Rather 
it is the attitude of certain of our English poets in 
treating classical subjects. Beaumont and Fletcher 
in "The Faithful Shepherdess," for instance, or 
Keats in "Endymion" and "The Grecian Um," 
This little poem will illustrate what I mean: 

L'eau des sources oti choit, le soir, 
La mort unanlme des roses 
Eujt heureuse de nous voir 
Petgner nos chevelures fauves . . . 

Un peu de cette eau nos miroirs ! 

Les Poataines ^taient sonores 
En les bois de Lune et de Nuit ; 
Crista! ou se mire et s'isole 
Quelque astre qui du del a f ui ... 

L'oode est tarie en nos amphores ! 

Les escaliers courbaient leurs rampes . . 
Oh, les pieds froids sur les pavfa I , . . 
Les portes et les hautes cbambres 
Pour le sommeil nu des Psyche . . . 

Lliuile est fig^e au fond des lampesi 

That is from a poem entitled "The Vigil of the 
Sands." Here is the first section of another poem 
called Le Fol Automne: 

Le fol automne 6puise aiut gtiirlandes ses roses 
Pales coram e des ISvres et des sourires ; 
Et le mal est d'avoir v^cu panni les n 
Les masques, les glorioles, les d^llres t 

Les iCgypans rieurs buvaJent aux outres neuves 
Le vieuK vin oil survit I'ardeur des Et6s ; 
Les vignes, ^grenant les grappes dans les fleuves, 
Gonflaient I'ambre clair de leurs maturity. 

s ont fleuri les coupes et les thyrees 
Et le pan des robes pu^riles; V&me 
Des fontaines pleurait dans Tombre ; autour des thyrees 
Les pampres semblaient tin sang de torche en flamme. 

L'autonme fol s'^puise en Eupi€mes gulrlandes, 

Les satyres roux r&dent par les bois, 

Et Ton suspend les masques vides par gulrlandes 

Ott le vent rit aux trous des bouches sans vobi. 

There are many poems in this book which I should 
like to put in, but there are more important ones 
wEudng in other books. The names of the sections 
into which the volume is divided will show its trend. 
Two of them I have already given you. The others 

Ifi6 Six French Poets 

are: "Greeting to the Strtinger," "Motifs" (this ia 
taken from the leit-motifs of Wagner, whose in- 
fluence was then at its strongest), "Of Legend and 
Melancholy," "Scenes at Twilight," and "The 
Dream of the Forest." 

In 1892, appeared another volume of poetry, Td 
Qu'en Songe. The book begins with the following 
Exergue, as a sort of dedication or motto : 

Au cairefour des routes de la forSt, un scht, 
Parmi le vent, avec mon ombre, un soir, 
Las de la cendre des dtres et des ann^, 
Incertain des heures pr^destinto, 

Les routes s'en allaicnt vers les jours 

Et j'aurais pu aller avec elles encor, 

Et toujours, 

Vers des terres, des eaux et des songes, toujours 

Jusques au jour 

Oii, de ses mains magiques et patientes, la Mort 

Aurait fennS mes yeux du sceau de sa fieur de paix et d'or. 

Route des chfines hauts et de la solitude, 

Ta pierre Spre est mauvaise aux lassitudes, 

Tes cailloux durs aux pieds lassds, 

Et j'y verrais saigner le sang de mon pass£, 

A chaque pas, 

Et tes ch&nes hautains grondent dans le vent rude 

Et je suis las. 

Henri de Rignier 


Route des bouleaiu clairs qui s'eSeuillent et tremblent 

PfLles comme la honte de tes passacts piles 

Qui s'^garent en tes Eanges tenaces, 

Et vont ensemble, 

Et se d^tournent pour ne pas se voir face k face ; 

Route de boue et d'eau qui suinte, 

Le vent h. tes feuilles chuchote sa plainte, 

Les grands marais d'argent, de lunea et de givre 

Stagnant au cr^pusculc au bout de tes chemins 

Et I'Eraiui k qui veut te suivre 

Lui prend la main. 

Route des irtnes douK et des sables lagers 

Oil le vent efface les pas et veut qu'on oublie 

Et qu'on s'en aille ainsi qu'il s'en va d'arbre en arbre, 

Tes fleufs de miel ont la couleur de Tor des sables, 

Ta courbe est telle qu'on voit 4 peine oil I'on d6vie ; 

La ville oil tu conduis est bonne aux Strangers 

Et mes pas seraient doux sur le seuil de ses portes 

S'ils n'^taient pas rest^s le long d'une autre vie 

Oi mes Espoirs en pleurs veillent des Ombres mortes. 

Je n'irai pas vers vos ch6nes 

Ni le long de vos bouleaux et de vos frfines 

Et ni vers vos soleils, vos villes et vos eaux, 

routes I 

J'cntends venir les pas de mon pass^ qui saigne, 

Les pas que j'ai crus morts, h^las I et qui reviennent, 

Et qui semblcnt me pr&^der en voe €choa, 


l68 Six French Poets 

Toi la facile, toi la honteuse, toi la hautaine, 
Et j'&oute 

Le vent, compagnon de mes courses vaines, 
Qui marche et pleure sous les chines. 

O moo ame, le soir est triste sur hier, 
O mon ame, le soir est morae sur demain, 
O mon ime, le soir est grave sur toi-mfime I 

The last three lines show his point of view at this 
time. The melancholy is undoubtedly sincere, but 
it is the melancholy of a very young man, half in 
love with his own state of mind. But whatever the 
idea may be, however adolescent the feeling, there 
b no mistaking the masterly quality of the verse. 
Here is no immaturity, no hesitating. It is De 
R^;nier in the full tide of his perfect vers libre. The 
flow of the poem is exquisite. There is not a single 
skip-step in the cadence, and never once the dull, 
pedestrian plodding of a prose line. 

The titles of some of the poems are very peculiar. 
We are in the heyday of Symbolisme, remember. 
And very characteristic are these titles: "Someone 
Dreams of Dawn and Shadow," "Someone Dreams 
of Evening and Hope," "Someone Dreams of Hours 
and Years," "Someone Dreams of Shade and For- 
getfulness." Here is the beginning of "Dawn and 


Henri de RSgnier 169 


"J'ai cm voir 

Ma Tristesse debout sous les saules, 

J'ai cm la voir — dit-elle tout bas — 

Debout auprfa du doux ruisseau de mes pensSes 

Les mSmes qu'elles tout un soir 

Qu'au cours de I'eau passaient SAimageantes des roses, 

Epaves du bouquet des heures blessfes, 

Le temps passait avec les eaux pass^es ; 

Elle pensait avec mes pens^es 

Si longtemps que le bois de bleu^tre fut mauve, 

Puis plus sombre et noir." 

J'ai cm voir ma Tristesse — dit-il — et je I'ai vue 

— Dit-il plus bas — 

Elle ^tait nue. 

Assise dans la grotte la plus silencieuse 

De mes plus interieures pens^es ; 

EUe y ^tait le songe morae des eaux glac6es, 

L'atixi^te des stalactites aiutieuses ; 

Le poids des rocs lourds comme le temps. 

La douleur des porphyres rouges comme le sang ; 

Elle y ^tait silencieuse, 

Assise au fond de mon silence. 

Et nue ainsi que s'apparalt ce qui se pense. 

Beautiful as this is, it strikes a slightly discordant 
note to a modern ear. The desertion of the sym- 
bol to plunge into plain allegory is old-fashioned — 
was old-fashioned even in the days of the Symbolistes, 


Six French Poets 

who attempted a greater subtilty. It is one of De 
R^gnier's worst faults, and one which, little by 
little, he has dropped. 

I will quote one mere poem from Tel Qu'en Songe. 
We still have allegory, but more lightly, more in- 
definitely done. And how cleverly the scene is 
sketched in, and all with a sort of pathetic tenderness ! 
It is one of the divisions of Quelqu'un Songe d'Heures 
et d'Annees: 

Les fruits du pass6, mflrs d'ombre et de songe, 

En leur 6corce ou jutent des coulures d'or, 

Pendent et tombeot, 

Un i un et un encor, 

Dans le verger de songe et d'ombre. 

Le crifpuscule doujt d&Hne et se ravive 

Parfois d'un soleil pMe ^ travers les arbres, 

Et ITieure arrive 

Ofi, un a un, arbre par arbre, 

Le vent louche les beaux fmits qui oscillent 

Et heurtent leurs tiMes ors piles 

Et tremblent encor 

Quand le vent a pass^ et que I'ombre est tranquiUe, 

Et tombent, un i un et un encor. 

La Tristesse a mflri ses fruits d'ombre 

Aux doux vergers de notre songe 

Oil le pass^ sommeiUe, tressaille et se rendort, 

Au bruit de ses fruits mflrs qui tombent, 

A travers I'oubli dans la mort, 

Un a un et un encor. 

Henri de Regnier 


The first of his prose stories, Contes A Soi-mtme, 
came out in 1894; ^""^ another prose story, Le 
Trifle Noir, appeared in 1895. The Conies d Soi- 
mSme are written in a learned and over-stylized 
prose, very unlike the flowing, rapid manner of his 
present prose writing. It is evident, indeed we 
know it from his publications, that at this time De 
R^nier was much more practiced as a poet than 
as a prose writer. Prose and poetry are different 
arts, and have to be studied quite separately. 
Words, ideas, have to be used in almost opposite 
ways. A man who can succeed in both branches of 
the difficult art of writing is happy indeed. Few 
people have done it, and Henri de R6gnier is emi- 
nent among the few. Both Contes A Soi-m?me, and 
Le Trifle Noir, with various other poems added 
to them, were later published under the title. La 
Canne de Jaspe, of which I shall speak when I 
come to it. 

At the moment, poetry still held first place in his 
interest, and in 1895 also, a new poem, Arelkuse, was 
published, which was included two years later in 
Les Jeux Rustiques et Divins. 

Let me deflect a moment to mention the extraor- 
dinary charm of De R^gnier's titles, particularly 
those of his poetry volumes: "Rustic and Divine 
Games," " Medals of Clay," " The City of Waters," 
"The Winged Sandal," "The Mirror of the Hours." 


Six French Poets 

In reading these over in a catal(^:ue, one would 
know that one had to do with a Symbaliste poet, and 
also with a poet of rare grace and elegance. 

Les Jeux Rustiques et Divins is divided into parts, 
as all De R^gnier's volumes of poems are. The 
first part, Arelhuse, is subdivided again into three 
sections; the first and last are called "Flutes of 
April and September," and the middle part is called 
"The Man and the Siren." The next large division 
is "The Reeds of the Flute," followed by "Inscrip- 
tions for the Thirteen Gates of the Town," "The 
Basket of the Hours," and " Divers Poems." I think 
my contention that De R^nier has the gift of titles 
is fully borne out by these. This, Le Faune au 
Miroir, is one of De R^gnier's most beautiful pseudo- 
classical pieces, and written in the alexandrine, 
which, in spite of its lesser originality, it must be 
admitted he manages lightly and with ease. 


Tristesse, j'ai bAti ta maison, et les arbres 

M^langent leur jaspure aux taches de tes marbres ; 

Tristesse, j'ai hUti ton palais vert et noir 

Oi I'if du deuil s'allie aux myrtes de I'espoir ; 

Tes fenfitres, dans le cristal de leurs carreaux, 

Reflfitent des jardins de balustres et d'eanx 

Oil s'encadre le del k leur exactitude ; 

L'&ho mome y converse avec la solitude 

Qui se cherche eUe-m5me autour de ses cyprfis; 

Plus loin c'est le silence et toute la for^t. 


Henri de Rignier 173 

La vie &pre, le vent qui r6de, I'herbe grasse 

Oii se marque, selon la stature qui passe, 

Un sabot bestial au lieu d'lm pied divio ; 

Plus loin, c'est le Satyre et plus loin le Sylvain 

Et la Nymphe qui, nue, habite les fontaines 

Solitaires oi prte des eaux thessaliennes 

Le Centaure en ruant 6brtche les cailloux, 

Et puis des sables gris aprSs des sables romc, 

Les monstres du D&ir, les monstres de la Chair, 

Et, plus loin que la grSve aride, c'est la Mer. 

Tristesse, j'ai b4ti ta maison, et les arbres 

Ont jasp6 le crista] des bassins comme un marbre ; 

Le cygne blanc y voit dans t'eau son ombre noire 

Comme la paie Joie au lac de ma m^moire 

Voit ses ailes d'argent temes d'un crSpuscule 

Oil son visage nu qui d'elle se recule 

Lui fait signe, k travers Vk jamais, qu'elle est morte ; 

Et moi qui suis entr^ sans refermer la porte 

J'ai peur de quelque main dans I'ombre sur la c\6 ; 

Et je marche de chambre eo chambre, et j'ai voilS 

Mes songes pour ne plus m'y voir ; mais de 1^-bas 

Je sens encor rflder des ombres sur mes pas, 

Et le cristal qui tinte et la moire que froisse 

Ma main lasse k jamais pr^viennent mon angoisse. 

Car j'entends dans le lustre hypocrite qui dort 

Le bruit d'une eau d'argent qui rit dans des fleurs d'or 

Et la stillation des antiques fontaines 

Oil Narcisse buvait les Ifivres sur les siennes 

Par qui riait la source au buveur anxieus ; 

Et je maudis ma bouche, et je maudis mes yeux 

D'avoir vu la peau tiSde et touchfi I'onde froide, 

174 -S^t* French Poets 

Et, quand mes doigts encor froncent l'6toffe roide, 

J'entends, de mon passe bavard qui ne se tait, 

Les feuilles et le vent de la vieille forfit ; 

Et je marche parmi les chambres solitaires 

Oii quelqu'un parle avec la feinte de se taire, 

Car ma vie a des yeux de soeur qui n'est pas morte, 

Et j'ai peur, lorsque j'entre, et du seuil de la porte, 

De voir, monstre rieur et fantftme venu 

De I'ombre, avec I'odeur des bois dans son poil nu, 

Quelque Faune qui ait k ses sabots sonores 

De la boue et de ITierbe et des feuilles encore, 

Et, dans la chambre tacitume, de le voir 

Danser sur le parquet et se rire aux iniroirs I 

L'Homme et la Sirhne is an allegory, but written 
less flatly than many which our poet has perpe- 
trated. And, strangely enough, it is not quite the 
old story which De Rfignier has told here. His 
siren, beautiful, naked, seductive, woos the man, 
who, dreaming of giving her a soul and making her 
his true companion, clothes her, covers her with 
jewels, and awaits the change he expects. It does 
not come. She, who was nature, simplicity, in- 
stinct, he has tricked up into an artificial nothing. 
He has not understood her, and she cannot reach 
him. The sea receives her back into its arms, and 
the man dies, crucified by his own blind prejudice. 

Indeed, Henri de R^gnier Is a thinker as well as a 
poet. And if his poems are usually merely an ex- 
pression of a mood, it is because he has other ways 


Henri de RSgnier 173 

of clothing his larger conceptions. He is not tempted 
to tell stories in verse after the manner of Jammes, 
and Fort, and other modems, because he has a 
prose even more adequate in which to express them. 
Now we have arrived at what is undoubtedly De 
Rdgnier's poetic masterpiece: Le Vase. It is the 
first poem in the division Les Roseaux de la FlUle. 
I will not spoil Le Vase by describing or analyzing 
it. Suffice it to say that it is the most perfect pres- 
entation of the creative faculty at work that I 
know of in any literature. 

Mon marteau lourd sonnait dans I'air l^r 
Je voyais la riviSre et le verger. 
La prairie et jusques au bois 
Sous le ciel plus bleu dlieure en heure, 
Puis rose et mauve au cr^puscule ; 
Alors je me levais tout droit 
Et m'^tirais heureux de la tftche des heures, 
Gourd de m'fitre accroupi de I'aube au cr^puscule 
Devant le bloc de marbre oil je taillais les pans 
Du vase fruste eocor que mon marteau pesant, 
Rythmant le matin clair et la bonne joumfe, 
Heurtait, joyeus d'fitre sonore en I'air 16ger I 

Le vase naissait dans la pierre fa^onn^e. 
Svelte et pur il avail grandi 
Infomie encor en sa sveltesse, 
Et j'attendis, 

Les mains oisives et mqui^t«s, 

Pendant des jours, touraaot la tAte 

A gauche, k droite, au moindre bruit. 

Sans plus polir la panse ou lever le marteau, 


Coulait de la fontaine comme haletante. 

Dans le silence 

J'entendais, iin & un, aux arbres du verger, 

hes fruits tomber de branche en branche, 

Je respirais un parfum messager 

De fleurs lointaines sur le vent ; 

Sou vent, 

Je croyais qu'on avail paiU bas, 

Et, un jour que je rSvais — ne dormant pas — 

J'entendis par deli les pr& et la rivifae 

Chanter des Mtes . . . 

Dn jour, encor, 

Entre les feuilles d'ocre et d'or 

Du bois, je vis, avec ses jambes de poil jaune, 

Danser un faune ; 

Je I'apergra aussi, une autre fois, 

Sortir du bois 

Le long de la route et s'asseoir sur une borne 

Pour prendre un papillon k I'une de ses comes. 

Une autre fois, 

Un centaure passa la rivi^ i la nage ; 

L'eau ruisselait sur sa peau dliomme et son pelage ; 

n s'avanga de quelques pas dans les roseaux, 

Flaira le vent, hennit, repassa l'eau ; 



Henri de Regnier 

Le lendemain, j'ai vu I'ongle de ses sabots 
Marqu6 dans I'herbe . . . 

Des femmes nues 

Passant en portant des panieis et des gerbes, 

Trfis loin, tout au bout de la ptmne. 

Un matin, j'en trouvai trois k la fontaine 

Dont I'une me parla. Elie 6tait nue. 

Elle me dlt ; Sculpte la pierre 

Selon la forme de mon corps en tes pens^es, 

Et fais sourire au bloc ma face claire ; 

Ecoute autour de toi les heures dans^ 

Par mes sosurs dont la ronde se renoue, 


Et toume et chante et se d6noue. 

Et je sentis sa bouche tiMe sur ma joue. 

Alors le verger vaste et le bois et la plaine 
Tressaillirent d'un bruit Strange, et la fontaine 
Coula plus vive avec un rire dans ses eaox ; 
Les trois Nymphes debout auprte des trois roseaux 
Se prirent par la main et dansfirent ; du bois 
Les faunes rouK sortaient par troupes, et des voix 
Chant^ot par deli les arbres du verger 
Avec des flfltes en ^veil dans I'air 16ger. 
La terre retentit du galop des centaures ; 
C en venait du fond de I'horizon sonore, 
Et Ton voyait, assis sur la croupe qui rue. 
Tenant des thyrses tors et des outres ventraes, 
Des satyres boiteux piqufa par des abeilles. 

178 Six French Poets 

Et les bouches de crin et les Uvres venneiUes 
Se baisaient, et la ronde immense et frSn^tique, 
Sabots loards, pieds lagers, toisons, croupes, tuniques, 
Toumait dperdument autour de moi qui, grave, 
Au passage, sculptais aux flancs gouflds du vase 
Le tourbillonnement des forces de la vie. 

Du parfum exhale de la tetre mftrie 

Une ivresse montait k travere mes pens^, 

Et dans I'odeur des fruits et des grappes pressto, 

Dans le choc des sabots et te heurt des talons. 

En de fauves odeurs de boucs et d'6talons, 

Sous le vent de la ronde et la grfile des rtres, 

Au marbre je taillais ce que j'entendais brujre; 

Et parmi la chair chaude et les effluves tiMes, 

Hennissement du mufle ou murroure des ISvres, 

Je sentais sur mes mains, amoureux ou farouches, 

Des souffles de naseaun ou des baJsers de bouches. 

Le cr^puscule vint et je toumai la t£te. 

Mod ivresse ^tait morte avec la tilche faite ; 
Et sur son socle enfm, du pied jusques aux anses, 
Le grand Vase se dressait nu dans le silence, 
Et, sculptfe en spirale k son marbre vivant, 
La ronde disperse et dont un faible vent 
Apportait dans I'&ho la rumeur dispame, 
Toumait avec ses boucs, ses dieux, ses Eemmes n 
Ses centaures cabrfa et ses faunes adioits, 
Silcncieuscment autour de la parol, 
Tandis que, seul, pamii, & jamais, la nuit mnbr 
Je maudissais raurore e* je pleti™"' 

Henri de Rignier 


Inscriptions Pour les Treize Fortes de la Ville are 
always considered among the very finest poems which 
De R6gnier has written. They are dedicated to 
Bruneti^re, which is a little stroke of malice, for the 
poems were first printed in the Revue des Deux 
Mondes, of which Bruneti^re was editor. He ac- 
cepted them, acknowledged their beauty, but still 
his conventional soul was severely wounded by cer- 
tain liberties which their author had permitted 
himself to take with the classic alexandrine. Finally 
he consented to print them, with a note appended 
exonerating the editors from all responsibility in 
publishing them. De Rignier Wtis considerably 
annoyed by this su^estion at first, but when he 
was told that this was only the third time that 
such a thing had been done, and that the other 
times were, once for Baudelaire, and once for La- 
mennais, he consented to be labelled with the 
glorious stigma. 

I am going to quote four of these inscriptions; 
those on the Gates of the Warriors, the Merchants, 
and the Comedians, and on the "Gate which goes 
down to the Sea." 

Porte haute I ne crains point I'ombre, laisse ouvert 
Ton battant d'airain dur et ton battant de fer. 
On a jets tes clefs au fond de la dteme. 
Sois maudite k jamais si la peur te referme ; 
Et coupe, comma au (il d'un double couperet, 

Six French Poets 

ht poing de toute main qui te refermerait. 

Car, sous ta voQte sombre oi^ r6sonnaient leurs pas, 

Des hommes ont pass^ qui ne reculent pas, 

Et la Victoire prompte et haletante encor 

Marchait au milieu d'eux, nue en scs ailes d'or, 

Et Ics guidait du geste calme de son glaive ; 

Et son ardent baiser en pourpre sur leur I6vre 

Saignait, et les clairons aux roses de leure bouches 

Vibraient, rumeur de cuivre et d'abeilles farouches ! 

Ivre essaim de la guerre aux ruches des armures, 

Allez cueiUir la mort sur la fleur des chairs mflres, 

Et si vous revenez vers la ville natale 

Qu'on suive sur mon seuil au marbre de ses dalles, 

Quand ils auront pass^, Victoire, sous tes ailes, 

La marque d'un sang clair k leurs rouges semelles I 


Sdis h€m, noir portail, qu'entrant nous saluimes 1 
Les coffres durs pesaient h I'&hine des fines ; 
Nous apportions, pour les dialer dans les cours, 
Ce qu'on taille la nuit, ce qu'on brode le jour, 
La pendeloque claire et I'fitoffe tiss^. 
Le plus vieux d'entre nous tenait un caducfe; 
C'Stait le maltre exact des trocs et des Changes, 
Et la gourde bossue et les perles 6tranges 
Se m^laient dans nos mains poudreuses, et chacun, 
Pourvoyeur de denrfe ou marchand de parfum, 
Vidait son 6talage et gonflait sa sacoche ; 
Car tout acheteur cMe au geste qui I'accroche 
Par un pan de la robe et le bout du manteau . ■ . 

Henri de Regnier i8 

Les plus petits grirapaient sur de grands escabeaux, 

Et le plus doucereux comme le plus retors, 

Le soir, comptaJt et recomptait sa pile d'or, 

En partant, et chacun, pour qu'^ I'ombre des haies 

Les d^trousseurs d'argent qui guettent les monnaies 

Ne nous attecdent point sur la route ddserte, 

O [Knte ! et pour qu'un dieu fasse nos pas alert«5, 

Chacun, sans regarder celui qui va le suivre, 

Cloue i ton seuil de pierre une pifice de euivre. 


Le chariot s'arrCte h I'angle de men mur. 

Le soir est beau, le ciel est bleu, les bl6s sont milrs ; 

La Nymphe toume et danse autour de la fontaine ; 

Le Faune rit ; I'EtS mystSrieux ramtae 

A son heure la troupe errante et le vieux char, 

Et celles dont le jeu, par le masque et le fard, 

Mime sur le triJteau oi pose leur pied nu 

La fable populaire ou le mythe ingi^nu 

Et I'histoire divine, humaine et monstrueuse, 

Qu'au miroir de la source, au fond des grottes creuse; 

Avec leurs bonds, avec leurs cris, avec leurs rires, 

La Dryade argentine et le jaune Satyre 

Reprennent d'4ge en Sge h. I'ombre des grands bois. 

Venez ! I'heure est propice et la toule est sans voix, 

Et I'attente sourit d^j^ dans les yeux clairs 

Des enfants et des doux vieillards, et, k travers 

Ma porte qui, pour vous, s'ouvrira tout« grande, 

Hospitalifire et gaie et lourde de guirlandes, 

Je vous vois qui venez, une rose 4 la naain, 

Six French Poets 

Avec vos manteatu claiis et vos visages peiots, 
Toutes, et souriant, avant d'entrer, chacune 
Met le pied sur la borne et lace son cothuroe. 


Moi, le Barreur de poupe et le Veilleur de proue 

Qui cormus le soiifflet des lames sur ma joue, 

Le vent s'fehevelant au travers de I'&ume, 

L'eau claire de I'amphore et la cendre de I'ume, 

Et, clartd silencieiwe ou flamme vermeille, 

La torche qui s'erabrase et la lampe qui veille, 

Le degr^ du palais et le seuil du d^combre 

Et I'accueil aus yeun d'aube et I'exil aux yeux d'ombra 

Et I'amour qui sourit et I'amour qui sanglote 

Et le manteau sans tnnis que I'^pre vent fait loque 

Et le fruit m(k saignant et la t^te coupte 

Au geste de la serpe ou au vol de l'6p6e, 

Et, vagabond des vents, des routes et des Sots, 

De la course marine ou du choc des galops, 

Moi qui garde toujours le bnijt et la rumeur 

De la come du p4tre ct du chant du rameur, 

Me voici, revenu des grands pays loin tains 

De pierre ct d'eau, et toujours seul dans mon destin 

Et nu, debout encor k I'avaot de la proue 

Imp^tueuse qui dans I'&urae s'^broue ; 

Et j'entrerai brftle de soleil et de joie, 

Cartee qui se cabre et vergue qui s'fploie, 

Avec les grands oiseaux d'or p41e et d'argent claJr, 

J'entrerai par U Porte ouverte sur la Mer I 

Henri de Rignier 


The poems a!i purport to be written in the same 
metre, but notice with what excellent art De R6gnier 
varies the movement of each, so that "The Gate of 
the Warriors" is almost as rhythmic and martial as 
the steps of the legions passing through it. The 
b's and d's in the line : "Ton battant d'airain dur et 
ton battant de fer," give the heavy tread of the poem 
at the outset ; while with the first line of "The Mer- 
chants:" "Soit b6ni, noir portail, qu'entrant nous 
salu^mes" something suave, almost cringing, has 
crept in. The merchants are timid people, or they 
would not nail a copper cojn on the sill of the gate 
as an offering to the protecting gods that their steps 
may be rapid and wary, and robbers be eluded. 
The whole sound of the poem is succulent and syco- 
phantic. Very different again is the light, advanc- 
ing rhythm of "The Comedians." The two first 
lines give a feeling of expectation, all the gaiety of 
an evening of recreation after the day's work : 

Le chariot s'an*te 4 rangle de mon mur. 

Le soir est beau, le cie! est bleu, les blfe sont mflrs . , . 

The cutting of the last of these two lines into thirds, 
has given it a skipping, tripping, care-free quaHty ; 
and the end of the poem, where each comedian, 
arrayed and made up for the play, puts her foot up 
on the pedestal of the gate to be certain that her 
sandal-lace is adjusted and will not trip her, is most 
simple and charming. There is a certain fresh. 

1 84 

Six French Poets 

swirling, blowing movement about "The Gate of the 
Sea," hard to define, but very evident, nevertheless. 
We feel the proud, almost haughty lifting and falling 
of the figurehead : 

Avec tes grands oiseaux d'or paie et d'argent clair. 
J'entrerai par la Porte ouverte sur la Mer 1 

Now we come to a form which De R^gnier in- 
vented for himself, and called Odelette — Little Ode. 
It is often spoken of as being his greatest contribu- 
tion to poetry ; which is nonsense. His greatest 
contribution is his vers libre as a whole, and these 
Odelettes are merely short, evanescent poems in vers 
libre, and should hardly be dignified by being called 
a form. But they are as satisfying as they are 
slight, and have a piercingly sweet little melody 
that I can remember nowhere else. The first one 
is perhaps the most successful of all he has done. 


Un petit roseau m'a suffi 

Pour faire fr^mir I'herbe haute 

Et tout !e pr6 

Et les doux saules 

Et le niisseau qui chant« aussi ; 

Un petit roseau m'a suffi 

A faire chanter la for6t. 

Ceux qui passent I'ont entendu 
Au fond du soir, en leurs pens^es, 


Henri de RSgnier 185 

Dans le silence et dans le vent, 

Clair ou perdu, 

Proche ou lointain . . . 

Ceux qui passent en leurs pensdes 

En 6coutant, au fond d'eux-m^es, 

L'entendront encore et I'entendent 

Toujours qui chante. 

n m'asuffi 

De ce petit roseau cueilli 

A la fontaine oH vint TAmour 

Mirer, un jour, 

Sa face grave 

Et qui pleurait, 

Potir f aire pleurer ceux qui passent 

Et trembler llierbe et frdmir Teau ; 

Et j'ai, du souffle d'un roseau. 

Fait chanter toute la for^t. 

This IS what he calls an ode. The difference in 
weight and rhythm is very marked. 


Je t'ai connue, 

Ch^ Ombre nue, 

Avec tes cheveux lourds de soleil et d'or pdle, 

Avec ta bouche de sourire et de chair douce. 

Du plus loin de mes jours, Ul-bas, tu es venue 

Au bout des vieux chemins de bl6s et de mousses, 

Le long des pr6s, au bord du bois, 

Alors que je suivais la sente et le ruisseau, 

I86 Six French Poeis 

Josreuz dtt ndsBeau dair et de la sente frakfae, 

Bt qu'i mes mains, 

Bntre mes doigts, 

La fleur cudllie k llierfoe ^paisse 

6tait toute moite de ro66e 

Et tremblante de Tor d'une abeilk pos^, 

Au temps d'avril oCi ks roseaux 

Chantaient d'eux-mfimes, 

Auprds des eaux et des fontaineSy 

Au moindre vent, 

Je t'ai ocnmue, assise au porche sur le seuil 

De la Vie et du Songe et de TAn, 

Jadis, toi qui, du seuil, 

Regardais venir Taube et tressais des oouromies. 

Je t'ai revue, 

Chto Ombre nue, 

Avec tes cheveux rouill6s d'or roux, 

Graves de tout le poids de leur automne ; 

Le vieux vent d'Est pleure dans les haies, 

Lourd d'avoir rdd6, Taile basse ; 

Le pampre se desserre au tronc qu'il d6senlace 

Et la terre s'^boule au talus qui T^taie ; 

La joie est brdve et llieure passe, 

Et chacun marche vers un autre qui recule, 

Et la fletu' de Taurore est fruit au cr^uscule 

Et le fruit d'or du soir est oendre dans la nuit. 

Je t'ai revue, 
Tu 6tais nue, 

Henri de Rignier 187 

Comme i, I'aube oil je vins par la route des bl^s, 

Moi qui reviens vers toi par le chemin des chaumes 

Avec le soir qui tremble et le pas de Tautonme 

Aux &hos de ma vie oi riait le printemps ; 

Que vas-tu mettre aux mains que le retour te tend? 

Car j'ai perdu I'obole et la bague et la clfi 

Et la couronne en fleurs d'espoir d'oii j'ai senti, 

Feuille h feuiile, tomber la rose et le laurier ; 

L'opale s'est rompue h. I'anneau desserti 

Et ma voix de nouveau hSsite k te prier. 

Car, debout k jamais et le doigt sur la bouche, 

Comme pour fcouter I'Scho du temps qui fuit, 

Ton silence obstinS, patient et farouche 

Regarde venir I'ombre et pleure vers la nuit. 

La Canne de Jaspe, which I mentioned a few 
moments ago, came out the same year as Les Jetix 
Rustiques et Divins, in 1897. It is not my intention 
to go into Henri de Rdgmer's prose books with Jiny 
minuteness. Here, we are dealing with him as a 
poet, and in that capacity alone he has given us 
quite enough to do. But there is a little prose poem 
in the Preface to La Canne de Jaspe which I can by 
no means let pass. Speaking of the contents of his 
book, he says: "There are swords, mirrors, jewels, 
dresses, crystal goblets and lamps, with, sometimes, 
outside, the murmur of the sea and the breeze of 
forests. Listen also to the singing of the fountains. 
They are intermittent and unceasing; the gardens 
which they enliven are symmetrical. The statue 


Six French Poets 

there is either of marble or of bronze ; the 
trimmed. The bitter smell of box perfumes the 
silence ; the rose blossoms next to the cypress. Love 
and Death kiss each other on the mouth. The 
water reflects the foliage. Make the round of the 
basins. Go through the labyrinth ; wander about 
the grove ; and read my book, page by page, as 
though, with the end of your tall jasper cane, Solitary 
Stroller, you turned over on the dry gravel of the 
walk a beetie, a pebble, or some dead leaves." What 
is this but the palace with the onyx pillars once 
more ! It seems as though it were such an exact sim- 
ile, that even De R6gnier himself could not escape it. 

The strange haunting by the past is also here, in 
the preface and in the book. De R6gnier's novels 
are divided into two kinds. Those which picture 
the past, and those where the scenes are laid in the 
present. There is one novel which, like the Colossus 
of Rhodes, spans the division, and has a foot in 
either territory. That is Le Passe Vivant, which I 
mentioned at the beginning of this essay. 

The first of De R6gnier's long novels belongs 
to the group of the past. It is La Double Matlresse, 
and was published in 1900. This book has been 
much admired, much abused, and widely read. 
My copy is nine years old, and dates therefore only 
from the sixth year of its publication, yet the title 
page says "seventh edition." It is perhaps the one 
of De R6gnier's novels in which the Rabelaisian 


Henri de Rignier 


humour I have spoken of is most apparent. But 
there is a great deal else in it. Among other things, 
a tragedy, none the less terrible because it borders 
on the ludicrous; and an excellent and penetrating 
psychology. Even in its coarseness there is some- 
thing broad and sane — very different from the 
perverted innuendoes and everlasting under-sugges- 
tions of so much of Remy de Gourmont's work. 
How it is possible for a man of De R6gnier's delicacy 
to be so coarse, is a problem for the psychologist. 
But it is undoubtedly true that this fastidious 
gentleman enjoys a very loud laugh at times. La 
Double Maitresse is certainly a masterpiece. Many 
critics call it his finest novel. It is hard to say 
"finest" where all are so fine. I content myself 
with saying "one of them," 

But De Rignier was not done with poetry, nor has 
he ever done with it. That is the most astonishing 
thing about him. It is not as though the poet in 
him had preceded the novelist merely. On the con- 
trary, they both run along cheerfully and rapidly 
side by side. The same year that saw the publica- 
tion of La Double Maitresse, saw also a new volume 
of De R^gnier's poems, Les MSdailles d'Argile. 

Yes, Le Vase, which 1 quoted a little while ago, is 
De R^gnier's best poem. And yet — and yet — 
there is nothing finer than the Introduction to this 
new book, or some of the sonnets to Versailles in La 
Cits des Eaux. 


Six French Poets 

In Les MidaiUes d'ArgUe, the poet speaks of T 
poems under the metaphor of day medals, upon 
which he models his gods. His gods, which he says 
are the visible essences of the Thing which underlies 
everything in Heaven or Earth. Pantheism, I sup- 
pose some people would call it. Perhaps — does it 
matter? It is all his philosophy in a nutshell, and 
in this Henri de R6gnier seems to be less a French- 
man than a citizen of the world. At least, there is 
no trace of the superstition which I mentioned in 
the last chapter. This is the Introduction : 

J'ai feint que des Dieux m'aient parl6; 

Celui-li ruisselant d'algues et d'eau, 

Cet autre lourd de grappes et de bl6, 

Cet autre ail^, 

Farouche et beau 

En sa stature de chair nue, 

Et celui-ci toujours voil^, 

Cet autre encor 

Qui cueille, en chantant, la dgufi 

Et la pens^ 

Et qui noue i son thyrse d'or 

Les deux serpents en caducde, 

D'autres encor . . . 

Alors j'ai dit : Voici des flfltes et des corbeilles, 

Mordez aux fruits ; 

Ecoutez chanter les abeilles 

EtlTiumble bruit 

De rosier vert qu'on tresse et des roseaux qu'on coupe. 

Henri de Rignier 191 

J'ai dit encor : Ecoute, 


II y a quelqu'un derri^ Tdcho, 

Debout parmi la vie universelle, 

Et qui porte Tare double et le double flambeau, 

Et qui est nous 

Divinement . . . 

Face invisible I je t'ai gravde en m6dailles 

D'argent doux comme Taube pMe, 

D'or ardent comme le soleil, 

D'airain sombre comme la nuit ; 

II y en a de tout m6tal, 

Qui tintent clair comme la joie, 

Qui sonnent lourd comme la gloire, 

Comme I'amour, comme la mort ; 

Et j'ai fait les plus belles de belle argile 

S^he et fragile. 

Une k une, vous les comptiez en souriant, 
Et vous disiez : II est habile ; 
Et vous passiez en souriant. 

Aucun de vous n'a done vu 

Que mes mains tremblaient de tendresse. 

Que tout le grand songe terrestre 

Vivait en moi pour vivre en eux 

Que je gravais aux mdtaux pieux, 

Mes Dietix, 

Et qu'ils 6taient le visage vivant 

De ce que nous avons senti des roses, 

192 Six French Poets 

De I'eau, du vent, 

De la fortt et de la mer, 

De toutes choses 

En notre chair, 

Et qu'ils sont nous divinement. 

Is anything in any language more lovely than 
that? If so, f do not know it. 

True to his flair for divisions and titles, De R^ 
gnier has divided this book into "Votive Medals," 
"Love Medals," "Heroic Medals," and "Marine 
Medals." Then, deserting his metaphor, we have 
several other sections of which only the last, "The 
Passers-Byof the Past," invites mention. In almost 
every poem of the medal section, De R6gnier has 
kept to the idea of the modeller. It is nearly always 
brought in, as though he enjoyed the difficulty of 
writing poems of many kinds and writing them by 
this central symbol, and yet treating each one dif- 
ferently, and avoiding any suggestion of monotony. 
When I say that there are sixty-seven poems in the 
medal section, it will be seen what a task this was. 
This is one of the " Votive Medals : " 


Pileuse I L'ombre est tiMe et bleuiltre. Une abeille 
Bourdonne sourdement dans le jour qui s'endort, 
Et ton rouet se mfile 4 cette nimeur d'or 
AiU qui peu k pen s'engourdit et sommeille. 


Henri de R6gnier 193 

n est tard. C'est le soir. Le raisin k la treille 
Pend et sa grappe est miire k Tessaim qui la mord, 
Mais, pour la vendanger demain, il faut encor, 
Avant que vienne I'aube et que le coq s'^veille, 

Que j'aie en cette argile ob^issante et douce 

Arrondi de la patune et f asonn6 du pouce 

Cette amphore qui s'enfle entre mes mains obscures, 

Tandis que mon labeur ^coute autour de lui 
Ton rouet imiter de son rauque murmure 
Quelque gudpe invisible ^arse dans la nuit. 

This is a " Marine Medal : " 

J'entends la mer 
Murmurer au loin quand le vent 
Entre les pins, souvent, 
Porte son bruit rauque et amer 
Qui s'assourdit, roucoule ou siffle, k travers, 
Les pins rouges sur le del clair . . • 


Sa sinueuse, sa souple voix 

Semble ramper k Toreille, puis recule 

Plus basse au foud du cr^uscule 

Et puis se tait pendant des jours 

Comme endormie 

Avec le vent 

Et je Toublie . . . 

Six French Poets 

Mais un matin elle rcprend 
Avec la houle et la maree, 
Plus haute, plus d&esp^te, 
Et )e I'entends. 

C'est un bruit d'eau qui souffre et gronde et se lamente 

Derri^re les arbres sans qu'on la voie, 

Calmee ou ^cumante 

Selon que le couchant salgiie ou rougeote, 

Se meurt ardent ou s'^teiat ti6de . . . 

Sans ce grand murmure qui crolt ou cesse 

Et roule ou berce 

Mes heures, chacune, et mes pensto. 

Sans lui, cette terre cnie 

Et crevassfe 

Que sa et I^ renfle et bossue 

Un tertre jaune oi poussent roses 

De rares fleurs ch Stives qui penchent, 

Sans lui, ce lieu ftpre et morose 

D'ou je ne vois qu'un horizon pauvre 

De solitude et de silence 

Serait trop triste h. ma pens^ 

Car je suis seul, vois-tu. Toute la Vie 

M'appelle k son pass6 encor qui rit et crie 

Par mille bouches 61oquentes 

Denize moi, 14-bas, les mains tendues, 

Debout et nue ; 

Et moi, couch 6 

Sur la terre durrie 4 roes ongles en sang, 

Je n'ai pour y sculpter mon r6ve frdmissant 


Henri de Rigaier 

Et le rendre £t«mel en sa forme fragile 

Qu'un peu d'argile, 

Rien d'autre 

Pour fafonner mes m&iaillcs m^lodieusea 

Oa je sais dans la glaise ocreuse 

Faire, visage d'ombre ou profil de clartg, 

Sourire la Douleur et pleurer la Beauts . - 

Mats dans i 
Comme la i 

on dme au loin I'ainour gronde ou roucoule 
er, 1^-bas, derri^ tes pins rouges. 

Now I am going to skip over to "Passers-By of 
the Past." These are wonderful Uttle vignettes of 
eighteenth century characters. Did writing La 
Double Maitresse put them into his head ? Or are 
they merely another sign of that urging of the past 
upon him which we come across so often ? 

The first picture is a battle scene, or rather a por- 
trait with a battle scene for background : 

II est bott^ de cuir et cuirassiJ d'airain, 
Debout dans !a fum^e oil flotte sur sa hanche 
Le nceud oii pend I'^p^ 4 son ^charpe blanche; 
Son gantelet se crispe au geste de sa main. 

Son pied s'appuie au tertre oil, dans le noir terrain, 
La grenade enflamm6e ouvrc sa rouge tranche, 
Et r^clair du canon empourpre, rude et franche, 
Sa face bourguignoone & perruque de crm. 

196 Six French Poets 

Autour de lui, partout, confus et minuscule, 
Le combat s'enchevetre, hfeite, fuit, s'accule, 
Escarmouche, m61& et tuerie et haut fait ; 

Et le peintre naof qui lui grandit la taille 
Sans doute fut lou6 jadis pour avoir fait 
Le h^ros k lui seul plus grand que la bataille. 

This next one is of a pet monkey : 

Avec son perroquet, sa chienne et sa n^gresse 
Qui lui tend le peignoir et s&che I'eau du bain 
A son corps qui, plus blanc sous cette noire main, 
Cambre son torse souple oil sa gorge se dresse, 

Elle a fait peindre aussi, pour marquer sa tendresse, 
Par humeur libertine ou caprice badin, 
Le portrait nature! de son singe africain 
Qui croque une muscade et se gratte la fesse. 

Trte grave, presque un homme et singe en tapinois, 
Ve!u, glabre, attentif, il 6pluche sa noix 
£t regarde alentour, assis sur son s^ant ; 

Et sa face pel£e et camuse oil I'ool bou^ 

Ricane, se contracte et fronce en grimagaot 

Son turban vert et jaune oii tremble un plumet rouge. 

Henri de Rignier 197 

Here is the most charming one of all : 


En son calme manoir entre la Tille et I'Ouche, 
Au pays de Bourgogne oil la vigne fleurit, 
Tranquiile, il a vfcu comme un raisin mflrit. 
Le vin coula pour lui du goulot qu'on d^bouche. 

Ami de la nature et friand de sa bouche, 

11 courtisa la Muse et laissa, par ^crit, 

Poteies, madrigauK, ^pttres, pot-pourri, 

Et parchemins poudreux oii s'attestait sa souche. 

En pemique de crin, par la rue, k Dijon, 
S'il marchait, appuy6 sur sa canne de jonc, 
"hes Elus de la Ville et tes Parlementaires 

Saluaient de fort loin Monsieur te Chevalier, 
' Moins pour son nom, ses champs, sa vigne et son hallier 
Que pour avoir refu trois lettres de Voltaire. 

The three letters of Volt^re have a nice irony about 

I am going to give myself the pleasure of print- 
ing just one more of this group. It is not a por- 
trait, it is a thing- One of those bright, Dresden 
china clocks, all painted porcelain flowers and twin- 
ing bronze branches. Henri de R^gnier has a pro- 
found affection for what Voltaire calls, "ce superflu 
si n^cessaire." 

igS Six French Poets 


Le jardin rit au fleuve et le fleuve soupire 
Du regret 6ternel de sa rive qu'il fuit, 
La glycine retombe et se penche vers lui, 
Le lilas s'y reflate et le jasmin s'y mire. 

Le Ijseron s'^lance et le lierre s'^tire ; 
Un bouton qui germait est corolle aujourd'hui ; 
L'h^liotrope embaume Tombre et chaque nuit 
Entr'ouvre un lys de plus pour I'aube qui radmire ; 

Et dans la maison claire en ses tapisseries, 

Une pendule de porcelaine fleurie 

Contoume sa rocaille ou I'Amoiu- s'enguirlande, 

Et tout le frais bouquet dont le jardin slionore 
Survit dans le vieux Saxe oil le Temps pour offrande 
GreSe la fleur d'argent de son timbre sonore. 

Gathering up his scattered essays contributed to 
various reviews and particularly Les Ecrits pour 
L'Art, De R^gnier brought them out in 1901, in a 
volume. With this book we have nothing to do. 
The same year produced Les Amants Singuliers, a 
harking back to the style of tales with which he 
began ; and the next year, a long novel, Le Bon 
Plaisir, with the seventeenth century for scenery, 
and dedicated to his many- times-removed grand- 
father, as I said before. Again, in the same year, 
came another volume of poems, La Cite des Eaux. 

Henri de Rignier 199 

The title of this book U taken from Michelet's 
line: "Versailles, Cit6des Eaux," Henri de R^gnier 
is in love with Versailles. Here, as nowhere else, 
can he solace his taste for old French garden archi- 
tecture, for stately buildings, and for the melancholy 
of vanished generations. With that feeling for style 
which he has to so unusual a degree, with unerring 
taste, he has chosen the formal sonnet, the classic 
French alexandrine sonnet (a far inferior brand to 
the Italian sonnet, be it said), for his tribute to Ver- 
sailles. Versailles, model of formality and stately 
etiquette ! 

The dedication, Salut d Versailles, is too long to 
print in its entirety. I will quote the first part 
(of course it is in several parts), and let me hastily 
add that it is not a sonnet. 

Celui dont rime est triste et qui porte & I'autonme 
Son coeur brfllant encor des cendres de V€t6, 
Est le Prince sans sceptre et le Roi sans couromie 
De votre solitude et de votre beauts. 

Car ce qu'il cherche en vous, ft jardins de silence. 
Sous votre ombrage ou le bruit de ses pas 
Poursuit en vain I'^cho qui toujours le devance, 
Ce qu'il chercbe en votre ombre, 6 jardins, ce n'est pas 

'et de la rumeur iUustre, 
Dont le si^e a rempli vos bosquets toujoi 

200 Six French Poets 

Ni quelque vaine gloire accoudfe au balustre, 

Ni quelque jeime grSce au bord des fralches eaux ; 

n ne demande pas qu'y passe ou qu'y revienne 
Le h^ros imraortel ou le vivant fameux 
Dont la vie orgueilleuse, &latante et hautaine 
Fut I'astre et le soleil de ces augustes lieux. 

Ce qu'il veut, c'est le calme et c'est la solitude. 
La perspective avec I'all^e et I'escalier, 
Et le rond-point, et le parterre, et 1 'attitude 
De I'if pyramidal auprte du buis taill^ ; 

La grandeur tactturne et la paix monotone 
De ce m^Iancolique et suprfime s^jour, 
Et ce parfum de soir et cette odeur d'automne 
Qui s'exhalent de I'ombre avec la fin du jour. 

I should like to quote all these sonnets, one after 
the other — and only in this way can you get the 
whole effect — but as I cannot do that, I have 
picked out a few here and there. The first is La 


Glorieuse, monumentale et monotone, 
La fajade de pierre effrite au vent qui passe 
Son chapiteau friable et sa guirlande lasse 
En face du pare jaune oti s'accoude I'Automne. 

Henri de Regnier 201 

Au m^aillon de marbre 01^ Pallas la couroime. 
La double lettre encor se croise et s'entrelace ; 
A porter le balcon I'Hercide se harasse ; 
La fleur de lys s'eSeuille au temps qui la moissonne. 

Le vieux Palais, nur€ dans ses bassins deserts, 
Regarde s'accroupir en bronze noir et vert 
La Solitude nue et le Pas56 dormant ; 

Mais le soleil aux vitres d'or qu'il incendie 

Y semble rallumer int&ieurement 

Le sursant, chaque soir, de la Gloire engourdie. 

Already the note is struck: mournful, echoing. 
We are watching the dissolution of something beau- 
tiful, fragile, but doomed. And yet, how lovely it 
is in its decay, how much more sympathetic than 
strident vigour ! Listen to this of Le Bassin Vert : 

Son bronze qui fut chair I'^rige en I'eau verdie, 
D6esse d'autrefois triste d'etre statue ; 
La mousse peu k peu couvre I'^paule nue, 
Et I'ume qui se tait pise k la mmn roidie ; 

L'onde qui s'engourdit mire avec perfidie 

L'ombre que toute chose en elle est devenue, 
Et son miroir fluide oil s'allonge une nue 
Imite inversement un del qu'il parodie. 

Six French Poets 

Le gazon toujours vert ressemble an bassin glauque. 

C'est le mfime carr^ de verdure Equivoque 

Dont le marbre ou le buis encadreot ITierbe ou I'eau, 

Et dans t'eau smaragdlne et llierbe d'^meraude, 
Regarde, tour k tour, errer en ors rivaux 
La jauae feuille morte et le cyprin qui rdde. 

How the creeping of the moss up the shoulder of 
the statue gives, in one line, the sense of decay ! 
Here is another called La Nymphe. Notice how 
slightly and yet certainly it is done. With how 
little he gives the colours and reflections in the water. 


L'eau calme qui s'endort, dfiborde et se repose 
Au bassin de porphyre et dans la vasque en pleurs 
En son trouble sommeil et ses glauques pMeurs 
Reflate le cyprfa et reflate la rose. 

Le Dieu & la D^esse en souriant s'oppose ; 
L'un tient le sceptre et i'arc, I'autre I'ume et les fleurs, 
Et, dans I'all^e entre eux, mClant son ombre aux leuis, 
L' Amour debout et nu se dresse et s'interpose, 

Les talus du gazoti bordent le canal clair ; 
L'if y mire son bloc, le houx son cfine vert, 
Et I'ob^lisque alteme avec la pyramide ; 


Henri de Rignier 

Un E}ragon qui fait face k son Hydre e 

Tous deux du trou visqueux de leurs bouches humides 

Crachent un jet d'argent sur la Nymphe endonnie. 

Oh, they are beautiful, these poems ! I know noth- 
ing more perfect in any language. 

Now let us take an interior. He is no less happy 
there, as you will see. And when it comes to the 
smell of the box through the window, we must 
admit that words can do no more. 


La corbeille, la paiineti^ et le ruban 
Nouant la double flllte h, la houlette droite, 
Le m^daillon ovale oil la moulure £troite 
Encadre un profil gris dans le panneau plus blanc ; 

La pendule h&tive et lliorloge au pas lent 
Oil I'heure, tour k tour, se contrarie et boite ; 
Le miroir las qui semble une eau luisant« et moite, 
La porte entrebaUl^ et le rideau tretnblant; 

Quelqu'un qui est parti, quelqu'un qui va venir. 

La M^moire endormie avec le Souvenir, 

Une approche qui tarde et date d 'une absence, 

Une fenfitre, sur I'odeur du buis amer, 
Ouverte, et sur des roses d'oii le vent balance 
Le lustre de chstal au parquet de bois clair. 


Six French Poets 

La Cite des Baux has other divisions. And they 
are interesting, if you have the fortitude to begin 
the volume in the middle. But if you start with 
Versailles, I predict that you will always remain 

La Cits des Eaux was followed, in 1903, by his 
first modem novel, Le Mariage de Minuit, and again 
in the same year by another, Le Roman d'un Jeune 
Homme Sage. This last is a delightful story of a 
boy in his late school-days, and is done with com- 
plete sympathy and seriousness. No vestige of a 
sneer ever mars it. The author never patronizes 
his creation, young boy though he is. By the 
people who find La Double Mailresse a litde too 
extreme, Le Roman d'un Jeune Homme Sage is 
usually considered De R^gnier's best novel. 

Les Rencontres Briot, published in 1904, 
was a return to the seventeenth century, but in 
rather a different manner. M. de BrSot is a series 
of scenes rather than a novel, and it is a very strange 
mixture of realism and fantasticality. The two sides 
of De R6gnier have each had a hand for a while, 
and the result is a book which utterly defies classi- 
fication. But when, in 1905, Le Passe Vivant ap- 
peared, De R^gnier had flung a bridge over the 
chasm in himself, and produced a book which rested 
upon both of his personalities. 

Le Passi Vivant is too big a book, a book with 
too many overtones, to be discussed in a paragraph. 

Henri de Rignier 205 

Perhaps the poetical side of De R^gnier comes out 
more strongly in it than in most of his novels, 
though they are all impregnated with poetry. It is 
a tragic story of a young man who is so obsessed 
by the past that he feels called upon to reproduce 
in his own person, as much as possible, the ancestor 
whose name he bears. The result is a series of cir- 
cumstances which make life so hideous that the 
duplicate ends by the young man killing himself on 
the spot where his ancestor had died of a wound 
received in battle. 

It is easy to sneer at this book as a fairy story, or 
a ghost story of an unusual kind. It is neither of 
these things, but a profound study of a fact, which, 
in a lesser, saner degree, I feel sure Henri de R^gnier 
knows from personal experience to be true. 

La Sandale Ailee, a return to poetry again, ap- 
peared in 1906. The quality of De R^gnier's verse 
has not exactly deteriorated, and yet there is noth- 
ing in this volume to equal Le Vase, the introduc- 
tion in Les Medailles d'ArgUe, or the sonnets to Ver- 
sailles. Yet there is one poem which is among the 
poet's finest work. It is a new note of vigour, 
almost a joy of living. The particular kind of 
Symbolisme of his early books is fading out of these 
last volumes. There is a greater robustness, a 
dashing quality. But here let me print ' ' Sep- 

Six French Poets 


Avant que I'Spre vent exile les oiseaux. 
Disperse la fetull^ et stehe les roseaux 
Oii j'ai coup^ jadis mes fl&hes et mes ilfltes, 
Je veux, assis au seuil qu'encadre la lambrusque 
Revoir, avec mes yeux d^ji demi fennfe 
Sur ces jours, un 4 un, que nous avons aimis, 
La face que I'Annde, en fuyant, mois k mois, 
DJtoume, en souriant, de 1 'ombre qui fut moi. 

Septembre, Septembre, 

Cueilleur de fruits, teilleur de chanvre, 

Aux clairs matins, aux soirs de sang, 

Tu m'apparais, 

Debout et beau, 

SuT I'or des feuiUes de la for^t, 

Au bord de I'cau, 

En ta robe de brume et de soie, 

Avec ta chevelure qui rougeoie 

D'or, de cuivre, de sang et d'ambre, 


Avec Toutre de peau obtee 

Qui charge ton ^paulc et p£se 

Et suinte k ses coutures vermeilles 

Oil viennent bourdooner les demidres abetlles I 

Septembre ! 

Le vin nouveau fermente et mousse de la tonne 

Aux cruches ; 

La cave embaume, le grenier ploie ; 

Henri de Rignier 207 

La gerbe de I'Et^ cMe au cep de I'Automne ; 

La meule luit des olives qu'elle broie. 

Toi, Seigneur des pressoirs, des meules et des ruches, 

O Septembre, chants de toutes les fontaines, 

Ecoute la voix du po&ne 1 

Le soir est froid ; 

L'ombre s 'allonge de la forM, 

Et le soleil descend denize les grands ch6ncs. 

Oh, how good that vers libre is, and how unerring De 
R^gnier's judgment to know when it is indispen- 
sable ! Could that movement of speed and delight 
have been got in the alexandrine, do you think ? 
No — "other times, other manners;" new metres 
suit new minds. 

Another volume of essays in 1906, a series of 
Venetian sketches, also In 1906. A modem novel, 
and a singularly successful one, in 1907. A play, 
which it must be admitted amounts to very little, 
in 1908. Another modern novel, L' Amphisbine, in 
1912, and the year before, 1911, the last collection 
of poems that he has published so far, Le Miroir des 

Again, the poems retain their extraordinary tech- 
nique, but to any one who knows his earlier books, 
Le Miroir des Heures offers nothing either exception- 
ally good like Septembre, in La Sandale Ailee, or 
particularly new. For the first time, some of the 
Rabelaisian quality of certain scenes in certain of 
his novels has crept into his poems, in the section ; 


Six French Poets 

Sept Estampes Amoureuses. Manyof the poems are 
records of travel in Turkey and Italy. They are 
pleasant, adequate — but unarresting. I do not 
think it necessary to quote anything from Le Miroir 
des Heures. I prefer to leave Septemhre as the last 

Another novel, RomaiTie MirmauU, came out in 
the Summer of 1914, and still another, which had 
been running in a review, was to have been pub- 
lished soon after. I suppose the war has de- 
layed it. 

The wonder in reading Henri de R^gnier's life is 
how on earth he has been able to accomplish all he 
has. His novels show him to be a man of the world, 
observant, experienced, but the labour of producing 
twenty-six books in exactly twenty-nine years is 
enormous. And the genius (when practically all 
the books are masterpieces) is incalculable. Never 
once in the fatigue of this constant production has 
De R^gnier lowered his artistic standards. He has 
told us how he writes his novels, re-writing them 
entirely three or four times before they are ready for 

In igii, Henri de R^gnier was elected to the 
French Academy, succeeding Melchior de Vogue. 

Symholisme is over. The younger men are more 
preoccupied with life, they need new tools to express 
new thoughts. In the next essay we begin with the 
Moderns. Henri de R6gnier himself has said, "We 

Henri de RSgnier 209 

dreamed ; they want to live and to say they have 
lived, directly, simply, intimately, lyrically. They 
do not want to express man in his symbols, they 
want to express him in his thoughts, in his sensa- 
tions, in his sentiments." 

Whether this great genius who is Henri de R6- 
gnier will ever renew himself in his poetry as he has 
in his prose, remains for time to show. It is the 
fashion at the moment to consider him only as a 
novelist, and to disparage his poetry in the light of 
his prose. But even taking that into consideration, 
and admitting him to be, in poetry, the voice of a 
vanishing quarter of a century, he is still the greatest 
French poet alive to-day, and one of the greatest 
poets that France has ever had. 




I SAID in the last chapter that, in this, we should 
begin to study the Modems. Perhaps it would be 
well, at the outset, to inquire a little what is modem. 
What is this modem spirit which distinguishes 
Francis Jammes and Paul Fort from the men of 
the SymboUste group? If I were obliged to define ^ 
it in a word, I should say that it was "exteriority" 
versus "interiority." 

Since the days of De Musset, a long line of poets 
had been weeping their miseries in beautiful verse. 
Baudelaire, Verlaine, Samain, De R^gnier, all of 
them, had found life disillusion (or said they had), 
and none of them hesitated to complain through the 
length of charming volume after charming volume. 
Romantics, Realists, Naturalistes, Symbolisles, were 
all united by one common bond, they were con- 
vinced that a man who did not find the world dust 
and ashes was a philistine. They could be happy 
for a few brief moments in some brasserie, provided 
they were rather noisy and vulgar about it, but it 
was quite understood between them and an indul- 


Six French Poets 

gent world that they were only spending a few mo- 
ments in cheating the misery which was devour- 
ing them, that the next morning they would be as 
unhappy as ever. And the brasserie saw to it that 
they were. 

It was the convention that a poet loved rather 
decrepit and faded things (how often we find the 
word/on^ in their poems). Volupte is another word 
they loved, and here we have the companion picture 
to the brasserie. They were a pack of individualists, 
egoists, living in a city, and inoculating each other 
with the bug of discontent. 

I am far from saying that they were not great 
poets — the foregoing chapters will have shown you 
how much I admire their work — but these men 
were bom with a great talent. They would have 
been poets no matter where they lived or what they 
thought, for one feels with them that it is their 
poetry which counts and not their ideas. (Of course, 
I I except Verhaeren from this statement. As I said 
in the first essay, Verhaeren flew over the interven- 
ing period, during those years of illness in London, 
and emerged a fully developed modem, some years 
ahead of anybody else.) 

Neither do I wish to convey the idea that none 
of this long line of poets was a cynic by nature. De 
Musset, Baudelaire, and Verlaine, had every reason 
to be unhappy, both because of their temperaments, 
and because of the events their temperaments led 

Francis Jammes 


them into. But what was undoubtedly true of a few 
men, was equally undoubtedly a convention with the 
majority. "Interiority" was the fashion; a poet 
examined his mental processes under a microscope 
until he was like the gentleman in the story who had 
everything but "housemaid's knee." 

Such a state of things was really utterly insup- 
portable. De Musset drank himself to death ; Ver- 
laine and Huysmans fell exhausted into the arms of 
the Church ; Rimbaud took refuge in the Orient, 
married a native wife, and wrote no more poems ; 
and the greater number undoubtedly learned to 
enjoy their little pleasures and comforts with agree- 
able calm, although they continued to write as though 
suicide were just round the corner. 

Somehow, that fashion worked itself out, and 
"exteriority," as I have called the characteristic 
\ modern touch, came in. By this extremely awk- 
I ward word, "exteriority," I mean an interest in 
the world apart from oneself, a contemplation of 
nature unencumbered by the "pathetic fallacy," 
It is the reason of the picture-making of the modem 
poet. Picture-making these other men gave us, 
but the Modern gives us picture-making without 
comment. A somewhat old-fashioned editor once 
said to me that poetry was losing its nobility, its 
power of inspiration, because the young poets were 
only concerned with making pictures. I longed to 
ask him whether he would find a portrait by Van 

2l6 Six French Poets 

Dyck or Romney more appealing, if there were a 
littie cloud issuing from the mouth of the sitter 
upon which, somewhere in an upper comer, his or 
her sentiments might be read, after the manner of 
our comic papers. 

Well, whether editors like it or not, this making 
of pictures is one side of the modem manner. An- 
other is a certain zest in seeing things and recording 
them. (Chansons pour me Consoler d'Eire Heureux, 
' is the title of one of Fort's books.) The "modem" 
poet dares to be happy and say so. Still another 
side of "modernity" is the feeling of unity. Una- 
nisme, they call it in France. The knowledge that 
the world is all interrelated, that each part of it is 
dependent upon every other. That the butcher, 
the baker, and the candlestick-maker, are perform- 
ing important functions, of which he, the poet, is 
merely performing another ; and that love is hardly 
more necessary in making the world go round than 
a host of other little shoves given by trade, and 
science, and art, collectively. 

Again let me ward off misunderstanding by re- 
marking that I do not wish to imply that "Modems" 
never write about themselves, nor that the elder 
poets never wrote purely descriptive poems. It is 
general temper which makes a type, not sporadic 
departures from it. Any poet may feel sad and 
write sad verses, it is only when he writes no others 
that we are justified in calling it a mode. 

Francis Jammes 


Francis Jammes is the poet of contentment, of l 
observation, of simplicity. He is the poet of hills, I 
and fields, and bams, not of libraries and alcoves. I 
His poetry blows across the scented verses of the 
'90's like the wind from one of the snow-capped 
peaks of his native Pyrenees. 

In 1893, there drifted to Paris a little volume of 
poems called simply Vers. It was privately issued, 
and bore the name of a provincial printer : J. Goude- 
Dumesnil, Orthez. The author's name was quite 
unknown to the literati of Paris. Orthez was a little 
town in the" Basses-Pyr6n6es ; that seemed the only 
tangible thing about the book. But the poems were 
worthy of notice for their candour and simplicity, 
and they piqued curiosity by what seemed to the 
critics their anonymity. The Mercure de France for 
December, 1893, contained a notice which said : 
"This slim volume presents itself in a mysterious and 
very particular manner. The name of the author is 
unknown. Is it a pseudonym ? And it seems as 
though the spelling were not very careful : James 
would be more exact. The book is dedicated to 
Hubert Crackanthorpe and Charles Lacoste. M, 
Hubert Crackanthorpe exists. He is a young Eng- 
lish writer who has published a volume of stories, 
which are, it appears, very remarkable, somewhat 
in the manner of De Maupassant, and entitled 
'Wreckage.' The second name is unknown to me." 

So the author must be an Englishman named 


Six French Poets 

"James," or an English boy, for farther on 
astute commentator says, "The few words, written 
by hand on the copy I have before my eyes, are in 
the writing of an awkward little schoolboy." In his 
dedication, Jammes had written, "My style stam- 
mers, but 1 have told my truth," Of course he 
stammered, because he was English and so writing 
in a foreign tongue. The Pyrenees is one of the 
favorite haunts of the English ; it was settled : the 
author was English, and his name was James. 

But Jammes was not English ; he was the descend- 
ant of an old Pyrenean bourgeois family. His great- 
grandfather was a notary in the town of Albi, and 
the family were of enough consequence to have a 
neighbouring village named after them. The sons 
of this gentleman left home to seek their fortunes, 
and the grandfather of the poet, Jean-Baptiste 
Jammes, became a doctor at Guadeloupe. At first 
he prospered, and souvenirs of the interesting and 
exotic life he lived in the West Indies seem to have 
left an indelible impression upon the mind of his 
grandson. But he was mined by an earthquake, and 
died without returning to France. 

Jean-Baptiste had married a Creole, and a little 
son was bom at Pointe-i-Pitre, before the earth- 
quake. This boy was sent back to France when he 
was seven years old, to be brought up by some 
aunts who lived at Orthez. Jammes has written 
with feeling of the old dining-room, and the comer 

Francis Jammtt 


of it where his father sat, a little waif, seven years 
old, just arrived from Guadeloupe, 

M. Jammes, the father, grew up and married — 
whom, I have been unable to find out — and settled 
in the town of Toumay in the Hautes-Pyrfin^es, 
where his son, Francis Jammes, was bom on the 
second of December, 1868. 

Never was any one more rooted to a countryside 
than Jammes to the Midi. "My bed," he writes, 
"is set down between that grain of sand: the 
Pyrenees, and that drop of water : the Atlantic 
Ocean. I live in Orthez. My name Js inscribed at 
the mairie, and I am called Francis Jammes." But 
I anticipate ; Orthez came later. His early child- 
hood was peissed at Toumay. He has given some 
of his early recollections in a series of poems called 
Souvenirs d'Enfance : 

J'allai chez Monsieur Lay I'instituteur. 
Mon alphabet ^tait comme des fleurs. 
Je me souviens du poele et de la buche 
que chaque enfant du village apportait 
loreque le del est une blanche ruche 
et qu'on rfiveil on dit: "II a neig^l" 

Je me souviens aussi de la gaiti 
de mon tablier, aux jours mOrs d'Et£ 
quand je quittais I'feole un peu plus t6t. 
Petit petit j'avais encore les Cieux 
dedans les yeux comine une goutte d'eau 
h. travere quoi Ton peut voir le Bon Dieu. 

220 Six French Poets 

Already, suggested though not stated, is that blue 
of the sky which Jammes always seems to be in love 
with. All his books are cool and white like snow, 
and threaded with the blue of skies, of snow-shadows, 
of running water. 

In these reminiscences, he tells us how he "suffered 
because the nightingale preferred the green rose- 
bush to my heart," as he expresses it. He tells of 
being taken, one Sunday, to lunch with the notary, 
and being told off to play with the notary's niece ; 
of how they wandered in the orchard and "the 
birds upon the branches were confiding." We see 
the old apothecary, with his red wig and his hat "&kt 
Murger," coming to take care of him when he is ill. 
He goes fishing and catches a white fish. He is 
taken to Pau and sees some performing monkeys, 
and stands up on his chair with excitement. One 
of the monkeys tries to escape and is shot, and the 
little boy is terribly affected, he says : 

... la vision du Singe qu'on fusille 
tu le sais bien, etle est toujours en moi. 

His love for animals is very beautiful, his books 
are full of dogs, cats, donkeys ; of hares, and wood- 
cock, and quail, and butterflies, and dragonflies. His 
love of nature began at Toumay : 

Eau, feuillage, air, sable, racines, fleures, 
sauterelles, lombrics, martin-p6chenrs, 

Francis Jammes 

brume tombant sur quelque champ de raves, 
vrilles de vigne au toil de tisserand : 
doux g^nies que m'avait fait esclave ! 
Vous m'amusiez, moi petit, vous si grands 1 

When Jammes was five years old, his father was 
made Receiver of Records at Bordeaux, and the 
family went there to live. For a brief time during 
the moving, Jammes was sent to school in Pau, It 
was a "dame-school," directed by two ladies. 
Jammes was a petulant little boy, and probably the 
restraint of a city was irksome to him ; apparently 
the only thing which he remembers with pleasure 
about this period, is chasing butterflies on his way 
home from school. But Bordeaux was another 
story. It was full of endless interests for a growing 
boy — the quays, with their big ships perpetually 
loading and unloading, and that spicy smell which 
haunts vessels trading with the Indies or the Orient ; 
the ship-chandler's shops, with their suggestion of 
deep waters ; and the innumerable bird-seller's shops, 
full of parrots and other gay-plumaged, tropical 
birds, fit to rouse the imagination of the stolidest 
youngster that ever was born. And Jammes was 
anything but a stolid youngster. He was avid of 
impressions, and untiring in the intelligence he 
brought to bear upon them. 

The big ships forever sailing away, and returning 
laden with strange fruits and tropical merchandise, 
filled the boy with a sort of nostalgia for those 

222 Six French Poets 

distant, sun-basking ports. His grandfather had 
lived in one of them, and his mind wrapped itself in 
a delicious dreaming about those luxuriant islands 
of which he had heard so much. He fell to imagin- 
ing his grandfather in his big planter's hat and light 
blue coat, wandering round among bamboos and 
cocoa-trees : 

PSre de mon P^re, tu ^tais !&, devant 
mon Sme qui n'^tait pas nie et sous le vent 
lea avisos glissaient dans la auit coloniale. 

or sleeping : 

. . . au pied de la goyave bleu, parmi 

les cris de I'Oc^aa et les otseaiu des graves. 

All the mementoes of this West Indian life he 
cherished like sacred things: his grandfather's 
letters; his grandmother's shawl, embroidered with 
flowers and birds; a trunk of camphor-wood, full 
of the murmuring of seas and forests. 

In one of his poems he speaks of the old letters : 


Tu ^crivais que tu chassais des ramiers 

dans les bois de la Goyave, 
et le niSdecin qui te soignait ^crivait, 

peu avant ta mort, sur ta vie grave. 

Francis Jammes 223 

II vit, disait-il, en Caraibe, dans ses bois. 

Tu es le pfire de mon p6re. 
Ta vieille coirespondance est dans mon tiroir 

et ta vie est am^re. 

Tu partis d'Orthez comme docteur-m&iecin, 

pour faire fortune 14-bas. 
On recevait de tes lettres par un marin, 

par le capitaine Folat. 

Tu fus niinS par les tremblements de terre 

dans ce pays 06 Ton buvait 
I'eau de pluie des cuves, lourde, malsaine, amfire . . . 

Et tout cela, tu r&rivais. 

Et tu avais achet^ une pharmade. 

Tu6crivais; "LaM^tropole 
n'ea a pas de pareille." Et tu disais : " Ma vie 

m'a rendu comme un vrai Creole." 

Tu es enterrfi, IJi'bas, je crois, k la Goyave. 

Et raoi j'^cris oi tu es n^ ; 
ta vieille coirespondance est trfe triste et grave. 

Elle est dans ma commode, & clef. 

Perhaps something of this exotic life had really 
crept into his blood. He is said to look like a 
Creole, with "a great black beard, eyes nearly as 
green as the sea, and a sharp voice." His early 
books are full of this preoccupation with the tropical 
islands of the West Indies. 


Six French Poets 

Side by side with this dreaming, another interest 
was growing upon Jammes, he was becoming in- 
terested in flowers. Bordeaux has an excellent botan- 
ical garden. One afternoon, when the poet was four- 
teen years old, he went in to this garden for the first 
time. It made such an impression upon him that he 
even remembers that it was a Thursday, a hot Thurs- 
day afternoon in Summer. He says that there was " a 
white sun, with thick blue shadows," and that "the 
perfumes were so heavy they were almost sticky." 

From that moment, Jammes' love for old maps, 
old marine charts, the lovely French names of the 
New World — La Floride, La Louisiane, La Caroline, 
La Martinique — and all they evoked, had a rival in 
his love for flowers. He became an habitui of the 
Botanical Gardens, and might be found there, defy- 
ing the heat, with his handkerchief tucked into his 
collar to keep off the sun, studying the classitication 
of plants. At that time, an old botanist, Armand 
Clavaud, frequented the Gardens, and taught botany 
to occasional pupils. Jammes became one of these, 
and not only learnt that "seul le papillon-aurore k 
I'aube du Printemps visite la cardamine," but found 
a friend who listened while he read the poems he 
was beginning to write. 

Jammes does not seem to have carried on his 
botany with a very scientific finality. Rather, he 
seems to have dabbled in it, with the heart of a poet 
and the mind of a delighted amateur. Jean-Jacques 



Francis Jammes 


Rousseau began to rival the figure of his grand- 
father in his dreams and affections. His favourite 
book became the Confessions, which he called "son 
livre ami." He never lost this interest in Rousseau ; 
one of his best prose pieces is Sur Jean-Jacques 
Rousseau el Madame de Warens aux Charmettes et d 
Chamberi, and one of his best poems is to Madame 
de Warens. He constantly refers to Rousseau, " triste 
botaniste" as he calls him, and his love of peri- 
winkles. It is interesting to note that the little 
blue periwinkle is almost the same colour as the 
blues of the sky and water, which I have said so 
pervade the work of Jammes. 

His father dying in Bordeaux, Francis Jammes and 
his mother returned to Orthez, and the young man 
went into the office of a notary In that town. It is 
needless to say that nothing could have been more 
at variance with his tastes. The dusty proximity 
of deeds and registers was obnoxious to him, and it 
is rather amusing to notice that their dull and un- 
romantic present entirely obscured their past, which 
may very well have been as full of suggestion as the 
maps and charts he loved. 

But Nature was too much for Jammes, and 
Nature is very importunate in the South of France. 
He wanted to strap his little flower-box on his back 
and be off "botanizing" in the fields; he wanted to 
race along the banks of the Gave with his dogs ; he 
wanted to do anything except attend to business. 


Six French Poets 

To pass his days in the close atmosphere and powdery 
sunshine of a lawyer's office was horrible. But his 
observant eye was everywhere. Of the common, 
sordid, dull people he met while he was with the 
notary he has made his novel in verse, Existences. 
If the picture is a true one, we can hardly blame 
him for chafing to get away. 

Meanwhile, three little volumes had slipped into 
being, all privately printed, of which the one I men- 
tioned at the beginning of this lecture was the last. 
The Mercure de France does not mention works that 
are entirely insignificant ; Jammes was justified in 
determining to follow the business of literature. So 
the office was abandoned, and Jammes was free to 
pursue the career of poet. 

Francis Jammes and his mother settled down in 
the old house so full of memories. The old house 
of the great-aunts, whither his father had been sent 

^^^^H from Guadeloupe. Charles Gu^rin has written of 

^^^^H this house: 

V an 

^ de 

^^^^1 roi 

O Jammes, ta maison ressemble k ton vis^e. 
Une barbe de lierre y grimpe, iin pm Tombrage 
EtemeUemeiit jeune et dru comme ton cceur. 

and Edmond Pilon, Jammes' friend and bic^^rapher, 
describes it also: "This cottage of Jammes', all 
twittering with birds, humming with bees, and sur- 
rounded with roses, in a garden which is loud with 
beehives, and shaded by a pine tree, stands on the 



Francis Jammes 227 

slopes of Orthez. The countryside extends all about 
it, divided by the Gave, and watered by torrents. 
Here are villages, and over there are farms ; the 
flocks climb the flanks of the mountains; two- 
wheeled carriages bring the peasants to market ; a 
cart makes a rut in the plain ; the sun has warmed 
the grains in the earth ; the rain follows ; the plums 
in the orchard are blue ; a girl dressed in foulard 
sings in the lane, and the churlish beggar has gone 
down the road." 

But I think, after all, that Jammes can describe 
it best himself : 


La maison serait pleine de roses et de gufipes. 

On y entendrait, I'aprSs-midi, sonner les vfipres ; 

et les raisins couleur de pierre transparente 

sembleraient dormir au sokil sous I'ombre lente. 

Comme je t'y aimerais. Je te donne tout mon cceur 

qui a vingt-quatre ans, et mon esprit moqueur, 

mon orgueil et ma po6sie de roses blanches ; 

et pourtant je ne te connais pas, tu n'eitistes pas. 

Je sais seulement que, si tu ^tais vivante, 

et si tu ^tais comme moi au fond de la prairie, 

nous nous baiserions en riant sous les abcilles blondes, 

prfe du ruisseau frais, sous les feuilles profondes. 

On n'entendrait que la chaleur du soleil. 

Tu aurais I'ombre des noisetiers sur ton oreille, 

puis nous mSlerions nos benches, cessant de rire. 

aaS Six French Poets 

pour dire notre amour que Ton ae peut pas dire ; 

et je trouverais, sur le rouge de tes ISvres, 

le goflt des raisins blonds, des roses rouges et des guCpes. 

So much for the outside of the house. And this 
the in^de: 

H y a une arraoire A peine luisante 
qui a entendu les voix de mes grand'tantes, 

qui a entendu la voix de mi 

)n grand- p&-e, 

qui a entendu la voix de mc 


A ces souvenirs I'armoire ea 

t fiddle. 

On a tort de croire qu'elle r 

le salt que se taire, 

car je cause avec elle. 

n y a aussi un coucou en bois. 

Je ne sals pourquoi il n'a plus de voix. 

Je ne veux pas ie lui demander. 

Peut-fitre bien qu'elle est cassfe, 

la voix qui 6tait dans son ressort, 

tout bonnement conune celle des morts. 

n y a aussi un vieux buffet 

qtii sent la cire, la confiture, 

la viande, le pain et les poires mflres. 

C'est un serviteur fiddle qui salt 

qu'il ne doit rien nous voler. 

H est venu chez moi bien des hommes et des femmes 
qui n'ont pas cru & ces petites Smes, 

IS que Ton me pense seul vivant 


Francis Jammes 


quand un visiteur me dit en entrant : 
— comment allez-vous, monsieur Jammes ? 
With ink and paper and his beloved pipe, which he 
adores and apostrophizes in prose and verse, for 
inside ; and the blue sky, and the flowering fields 
and shady trees, with the Gave "blue like air," 
church bells ringing in the evening, and the quiet 
moon over the magnolia trees, what more could 
any poet desire for the outside ? But there was 
more — there were old iron gates of great parks 
leading up to some half-deserted chateau ; there 
were legends, and the houses which contained them. 
These things hitched themselves on to his old dreams 
of Guadeloupe and Martinique, and gave the poet 
a whole new gamut of imaginary possibilities. 

The natural preoccupation of a young man peopled 
his chateaux with girls. Not the girls of to-day, 
but the frail, graceful girls of fifty years £^0. How 
well Jammes evokes them when he says, "Leurs 
grands chapeaux de paille ont de longs rubans." 
And the names he gives them ! Clara d'Ell^beuse, 
who lived "au fond du vieux jardin plein de tulipes;" 
Almatde d'Etremont; Pomme d'Anis, whose real 
name is L^ure. These three are all in prose stories, 
which resemble no other prose stories in the world, 
and should really be called poems. They are full 
of the details which show "de quelles vieilles fleurs 
son Sme est compos^e." There is L'Oncle Tom in 
Pomme d'Anis, whose joy is in his greenhouse, and 


Six French Poets 

whose greatest desire is to make a heliotrope seed, 
found in the tomb of an ancient Egyptian lady, 
blossom. There is M. d'Astin in Clara d'EllSbeuse, 
who lives all alone in an old house ; on one of his 
walls hangs "a marine chart browned like an old 
shell. Underneath it one reads 'Indian Ocean.'" 
It is he who gave to his friends, the D'EIl^beuses, 
"two pretty engravings, one representing 'a Mongo- 
lian woman in her dress of ceremony : summer ;' the 
other, ' the eldest daughter of the Emperor.' " Slight 
touches, but so deftly done as to evoke the whole 
room, with the furniture of the time. 

But, as I have said, these are prose stories. Let 
me show you somewhat the same thing in a poem : 

J'6cris dans un vieiu kiosque si touSu 
qu'il en est humide et, comme un Chuiois, 
j'fcoute I'eau du bassin et la voix 
d'lm oiseau — 14, prfis de la chute (chutt I !) 

d'eau. Je vais allumer ma pipe. 
Ca y est. J'en 6galise la cendre. 
Puis le scAivenir doucement descend 
a po£tique. 

"Je stiis venu trap tard dans un monde 
trap vieux" et je m'embfite, je m'emMte 
de oe pas assister 4 une ronde 
de petites filles aux grands chapeaux ^tal^. 

Francis Jammes 231 

— Cora I tu va salir le bas de ton 
pantalon, en touchant k ce vilain chien. 
Voil^ ce qu'eussent dit, dans tin soir ancien, 
les petites filles au bon ton. 

EUes m'atiraient regard^, en souriant, 
fumer ma pipe tout doucement, 
et ma petite ni^ce eiit dit gravement : 
n rentre faire des vers maintenant. 

£t ses petites compagnes, sans comprendre, 

atiraient arrets une seconde 

le charmantage de leur ronde, 

croyant que les vers allaient se voir — peut-^tre. 

— II a €l€ k Touggourt, ma ch^, 
e^t dit le cercle des 6coli^es 

plus &g6es. Et Nancy e^t d6clar^ : 
il y a des sauvages et des dromadaires. 

Puis, j'aurais vu d^boucher sur la route 
le caracolement des ^es 
de plusietu^ messieurs et de plusieurs dames 
revenant, le soir, d'une cavalcade. 

Mon coeur, mon coeur, ne retrouveras-tu 
que dans la mort cet immense amour 
pour ceux que tu n'as pas connus 
en ces tendres et d^funts jours? 


Six French Poets 

Jamtnes' life at this time was made up of dreams 
and reality, but few poets have understood so well 
as he how to combine the two. How to make his 
very accurate observation give an air of perfect 
naturalness to his most fantastic tales. But all the 
time that he was evoking a beautiful, delicate past 
in his imagination, he was really living in the little 
rose-covered house, smoking his pipe in the old 
tapestry room, or tramping the fields and woods, 
and breathing the bright, sparkling air which was 
blown from the snow-capped Pyrenees, 

The place got into his blood. He loved it, " Here 
is a bucolic poet," exclaims Remy de Gourmont 
in the //"" Livre des Masques, "no kind of poet is 
more unusual." Yes, Jammes is a bucolic poet, 
such a poet as France has never seen before. Eng- 
land has had bucolic poets in no mean number, but 
the habit for centuries in France of all men of peirts 
^^^^H running to the capital as early in their lives as pos- 

^^^H sible, has left no one behind to sing the labours of 

^^^^H the helds. 

^^^^H By what happy chance Fate has permitted a poet 

^^^^H of the first rank to remain in the country, we do not 

^^^^^ know. But he is in the country, and a country so 

I far away as to make an annual journey to Paris all 

H he cares to undertake, 

H L*t me quote part of a poem called Le Calendrier 

H Utile, which, for accuracy, might be taken from some 

H Fanner's Almanac : 

Francis Jammes 233 


Au mois de Mars (le Holier T) on stole 
le trSfle, les carottes, !es choux et la luzeme. 
On cesse de herscr, et Ton met de I'engrais 
au pied des arbres et Ton prepare les carrfe. 
On finit de tailler la vigne ou Ton met en place, 
aprSs I'avoir a^r^, les ^chalas. 

Pour les bestiaux les rations d'hiver finissent. 
On ne mtoe plus, dans les prairies, les g^nisses 
qui ont de beaux yeux et que leurs mSres IMient, 
mais on leur donnera des nourritures fraiches. 
Les jours croissent d'une heure cinquante minutes. 
Les Soir^ sent douces et, au cr^uscule, 
les chevriers tralnards gonflent leure joues aux fliltes. 
Les chivres passent devant le bon chien 
qui agite la queue et qui est leur gardien. 

So much for the description of March labours. 
Now read this of Palm Sunday : 

Ensuite vient le beau dimanche des raueaux. 

Quand j'^tats enfant, on m'y attachait des gftteaux, 

et j'allais k vSpres, docile et triste. 

Ma m^re disait : dans mon pays il y avait des olives . . . 

J&us pleurait dans le jardin des oliviers . . . 

On £tait all£, en grande pompc, le chercher . . . 

A Jerusalem, les gens pleuraient en criant son nom . . . 

n ^tait doux comme le del, et son petit inon 

trottinait joyeusement sur les palmes jet^es. 

Des mcndiants amers sanglotaient de joie. 

Six French Poets 

en le suivant, parce qu'ils avaient la foi , . . 

De mauvaises femines devenaient bonnes 

en !e voyant passer avec son aur&ile 

si belle qu'on croyait que c'^tait le soleil. 

II avail un sourire et des cheveux en miel. 

n a ressuscitfi des morts ... lis I'ont crucifix , 

Je me souviens de cette enfance et des v6pres, 

et je pleure, le gosier sem5, de ne plus fitre 

ce tout petit gargon de ces vieux mois de Mars, 

de n'Stre plus Harm r<5glise du village 

oil je tenais I'encens 4 la procession 

et oil j'fcoutais le cur^ dire la passion. 

No one is so tender and charming in Bible stories 
as Jammes. Here is a catalogue of March flowers, 
beginning (and one cannot help smiling) with "peri- 
winkles of milk-blue, loved by Jean-Jacques : " 

U te sera agr^able, au mois de Mars, 

d'aller avec ton amie sur les violettes noires. 

A I'ombre, vous trouverez les pervenches bleu de lait 

qu'aimait Jean- Jacques, le triste passionne. 

Dans les bois, vous trouverea la pulmonaire 

dont la fleur est violette et vin, la feuille vert- 

de-gris, tachfe de blanc, poilue et trte nigueuse. 

II y a sur elle une l^gende pieuse ; 

la cardamine ou va le papillon-aurore, 

I'isopyre Ifigfire et le noir hellebore, 

la jacinthe qu'on fcrase fadlement 

et qui a, &rasfe, de gluants briUeraents ; 

Francis Jammes 

la jonquille puante, Tan^mone et le n 

qui fait penser aux neigcs des bergcs de la Suisse ; 

puis le lierre-terrestre bon aux asthmaCiques, 

Jammes does not like small townspeople. That 
is if his novel, Existences, gives his real point of view. 
But his whole soul is in sympathy with the shepherds, 
the village people, the workers in the fields. "These 
are the works of man," he says, "which are great," 

Ce sont les travaus de rhoraine qui sont grands r 
celui qui met le lait dans les vases de bois, 
celui qui cueille les ^is de h\€ piquants et droits, 
celui qui garde les vaches prfe des aulnes frais, 
celui qui fait saigner les bouleaux des forfits, 
celui qui lord, prte des ruisseaus vifs, les osiers, 
celui qui raccommode les vieux souliers 
prSs d'un foyer obscur, d'un vicu.x chat galeux, 
d'un merle qui dort et des enfants heureux ; 
celui qui tisse et fait un bruit retombant, 
lorsqu'A mitiuit les grillons chantent aigreineiit; 
celui qui fait le pain, celui qui fait le vin, 
celui qui sSme Tail et les choux au jardin, 
celui qm recueille les oeuts tildes. 

That the poet knew practically nothing about any 
other life except his own, suid superficial glimpses 
while in the lawyer's office, did not in the least 
trouble him. Jammes has never been moved by 

236 Six French Poets 

reason. His is an emotional nature, entirely swayed 
by his sentiments. Any judgment given by the 
intellect alone would undoubtedly seem to him cold 
and repellent. Francis Jammes is a charming child 
on one side, and a most lovable genius on the other. 
But a man of mature and balanced intellect he cer- 
tainly is not. He loves with all his heart, and that 
is a most unusual and very refreshing thing. How 
he loves this little village and all its familiar sights 
and sounds! 

LE VILLAGE A Mllil . . . 

Le village il midi. La mouche d'or bourdoime 

entre les comes des bceufs. 

Nous irons, si tu le veux, 
si tu le veux, dans la campagne monotone. 

Eateodslecoq . . . Entends la cloche . . . Entends le patm . 

Enteads li-bas, U-bas, Vkne . . . 

Lliirondelle noire plane. 
L«5 peupliers au loin s'en vont comme tin ruban. 

Le puits rong^ de mousse I Ecoute sa poulie 

qui grince. qui grince encor, 

car la fille aux cheveux d'or 
tient le vieux seau tout noir d'oft I'argeat tombe en plule. 

La fiUette s'en va d'un pas qui fait pencher 
sur sa t*te d'or la cniche. 

Francis Jammes 237 

sa tete comnie une rache, 
qui se m^le au soletl sous les fleurs du pteher. 

Et dans le bourg voici que les toits noircis lancent 

au del bleu des flocons bleus ; 

et les arbres paresseux 
& Iliorizon qui vibre ^ peine se balancent. 

And so I have given much of Jammes' first real 
book before we have got to it. Never mind, chrono- 
logically we are the more accurate, for it was un- 
doubtedly written before it was printed. De I'An- 
gilus de i'Aube d I'AngSlus du Soir was published 
by the SociSte du Mercure de France, in 1898. Two 
little books had preceded it, Un Jour, also pub- 
lished by the Mercure de France, in 1896, and La 
Naissance du Poite, printed in Brussels, in 1897, 
But, as both these poems are now included in the 
Angilus volume, I prefer to speak of them as a part 
of it. (Another volume called Vers was printed by 
Ollendorf, Paris, in 1894. But, although I am not 
absolutely sure, I imagine it to have been just a 
reprint of the book which first attracted the Mer- 
cure's attention.) 

La Naissance du Poite and Un Jour are now fol- 
lowed by a companion piece, La Mort du Pohte. 
These are a series of three stories, vague and un- 
solved allegories, which Jammes pleased himself by 
writing. Doubtless they were done to soothe his 
own feelings, for his biographers hint at "intimate 


Six French Poets 

sorrows" lived down. Jammes, like so many yoiing 
Frenchmen, had ceased to be a practising Roman 
Catholic. But, with his childlike, unreasoning, and 
clinging mind, no other solution of life was really 
possible to him, and it can have been no surprise to 
his friends when he became a professing Roman 
Catholic again. But we are anticipating by some 
seven years. At the time of Un Jour and La 
Naissance du Pohie, Jammes was not an active member 
of the Church, but that his hereditary religion was 
neither distasteful nor indifferent to him, is shown 
by the fact that Un Jour ends by the Poet and his 
fiancSe kneeling, one on either side of the wall parti- 
tion which divides their bedrooms, and praying. 

I wonder whether the dedication in my volume of 
De rAngelus is contemporary or subsequent. Mine 
is the sixth edition, issued in 1911, and from the 
tone of this dedication I believe it to have been 
tacked on later. If it is not so characteristic of the 
Jammes of 1898, it is very characteristic of the later 
Jammes: "My God, you have called me among 
men. Here I am. 1 suffer and 1 love. I have 
spoken with the voice which you have given me. I 
have written with the words that you taught my 
father and mother and which they have transmitted 
to me. I pass upon the road like a laden ass at 
whom the children laugh and who lowers his head. 
I will go where you will, when you will. 
The Angelus rings." 


Francis Jamtnes 239 

As we shall see later, Francis Jammes approaches 
his religion with the beautiful simplicity of Saint 
Francis of Assisi. Just now, we must concern our- 
selves with another trait in Jammes' character. 
His humour. Few Frenchmen have his delightful, 
innocent, happy sense of humour. We shall see it 
cropping out again and again, as we go through his 
books. Let me give you a specimen of it from this 
first volume : 


Ecoute, dans le jardin qui sent le cerfeuil, 
chanter, sur le p^cher, le bouvreuil. 

Son chant est comme de Teau claire 
oix se baigne, en tremblant, Pair. 

Mon cceur est triste jusqu'^ la mort, 

bien que de lui plusieurs aient €t6, et tine soit — foUes. 

La premie est morte. La seconde est morte ; 
— et je ne sais pas oix est tine autre. 

II y en a cependant encore une 
qui est douce comme la lune . . . 

Je m'en vais la voir cet apr^-midi. 

Nous nous prom^erons dans une ville . . . 

Ce sera-t-il dans les clairs quartiers 
de villas riches, de jardins singuliers ? 

240 Six French Poets 

Roses et lauriers, grilles, portes closes 
ont Tair de savoir quelque chose. 

Ah 1 si j'^tais riche, c'est Ut 
que je vivrais avec Amaryllia. 

Je Tappelle Amaryllia. Est-ce b^ I 
Non, oe n'est pas bdte. Je suis po^. 

Est-ce que tu te figures que c'est amusant 
d'etre po^ k vingt-huit ans? 

Dans mon porte-monnaie, j'ai dix francs 

et deux sous pour ma poudre. C'est embdtant. 

Je oondus de \k qu'Amaryllia 
m'aime, et ne m'aime que pour moL 

Ni le Mercure ni VErmitage 
ne me donnent de gages. 

EUe est vraiment tr^ bien Amaryllia, 
et aussi intelligente que moi. 

II manque cinquante francs k notre bonheur. 
On ne peut pas avoir tout, et le cceur. 

Peut-6tre que si Rothschild lui disait : 
Viens-t'en . . . EUe lui r6pondrait : 

Francis Jammes 



■aurez pas 

ma petite robe. 



. autre . . . 

Bt que ^ Rothschild lul disait : quel est 

le nom dece. . .dece...dece. .. po^te ? 

EUe lui dir^t : c'est Francis Jammes. 
Mais ce qu'il y aurait de triste en tout cela : 

c'est que je pense que Rothschild ne saurait pas 
qui est ce pofite-14. 

To be published by the Mercure was a great honour 
for a young poet (who was not so very young any 
more, being thirty), but no regular publishing house 
could print fast enough to satisfy him. In 1898 
also, he printed at Orthez, Quatorze Priires. Noth- 
ing more beautiful, more touching, than these 
prayers, can be conceived. In them he shows the 
"simpleness" (I choose the word advisedly) of his 
sou!. A few of the titles of these poems will serve 
to show Jammes' sweet, gentle nature: Priire pour 
que les Autres Aient le Bonheur, Priire pour Avoir 
une EtoUe, Priire pour Eire Simple, PrUre pour que 
le Jour de ma Mort Soil Beau et Pur, Priire pour 
Offrir d Dieu de Simples Paroles. I will print one : 


Six French Poets 

Lorsqu'il faudra aller vers vous, 6 mon Dieu, faites 
que ce soil par un jour oil la camp^ne en Kte 
poudroiera. Je desire, ainsi que je Us ici-bas, 
choisir un chemin pour aller, comme il me plaira, 
au Paradis, oil sont en plein jour les i5toiles. 
Je prendrai mon b&ton et sur la grande route 
j'irai, et je dirai aux ^es, mes amis : 
Je suis Francis Jammes et je vais au Paradis, 
car il n'y a pas d'enfer au pays du Bon-Dieu, 
Je leur dirai : Venez, doux amis du del bleu, 
pauvres bfites chines qui, d 'un brusque mouvement d'oreille, 
chassez les mouches plates, les coups et les abeilles . . . 

Que je vous apparaisse au milieu de ces b$tes 

que j'aime tant parce qu'elles baissent la t^te 

doucement, et s'arT6tent en jojgnant leurs pettts pieda 

d'une fagon bien douce et qui vous fait piti6. 

J'amverai suivi de leurs milliers d'oreilles, 

Buivi de ceux qui portSreut au Banc des corbeilles, 

de ceux tralnant des voitures de saltimbanques 

ou des voitures de plumeaux et de fer-blanc, 

de ceux qui ont au dos des bidons bossu&, 

des Anesses pleines conune des outres, auA pas cass£s, 

de ceux k qui Ton met de petits pantalons 

k cause des plaies bleues et suintantes que font 

les mouches enlfit^ qui s'y groupent en ronds. 

Mon Dieu, faites qu'avec ces fines je vous vienne. 

Faites que dans la paix. des anges nous conduisent 

vers des ruisseaux touHus ofi treroblent des cerises 


Francis Jammes 243 

lisses conune la chair qui rit des jeunes filles, 
et faites que, penchc dans ce s^jour des imes, 
BUT vos divines eaux, je sois pareil aux dnes 
qui mireront leur humble et douce pauvret^ 
k la limpidity de I'amour ^temel. 

Jammes loves all animals, but apparently dc^s and 
donkeys best. In another book, we shall find a 
whole series of poems to the latter. 

!n 1899, La Petite Collection de I'Ermiiage, Paris, 
brought out La Jeune FUle Nue. It is another of 
Jammes' allegories, — the poet seeking solace from 
his dissatisfaction — and full of the woods and moon- 
light. It is punctuated with beautiful things like 

. , . C'est un chien vielleur que aboie 

au clair de tune dont I'ombre bouge sur les roses, 

or this : 

Nous I'attendions k ITieure rouge oil les Midis 
balancent aux clochers paysans leur ailes bleues. 

In 1899, the first of Jammes' prose tales was pub- 
lished by the Mercure de France : Clara d'Ellibeuse, 
ou VHistoire d'une Ancienne Jeune FUle. I men- 
tioned this book in another connection a little while 
ago, and I am not going into it any farther now. 
It is all aroma, all evanescent, fleeting sensadon. 
To rehearse the story heavy-footedly would be like 
dissecting a butterfly to prove how pretty it was. 
In it, Jammes has twined a three-stranded cord of 


Six French Poets 

his greatest delights. One strand is his love of the 
past; one, his love of the West Indies; and one, 
his deep-rooted affection for the high, blue sky, the 
quick, blue streams, and the long, white roads of 
the Basses- Pyr6n6es. 

During these years, Jammes had travelled. Not 
much, it must be admitted. He dreamed of travel- 
ling, revelled in the idea of it, sitting at home in his 
armchair; one of his pipes was "round and black 
like the breast of a little negress," he tells us, and 
presto — he was off to his beloved Islands in the 
Southern Sea, growing sugar cane and bartering 
spices as his grandfather had done. "For years," 
he says, "I lived there, where my grandfather and 
my great-uncle went, in the flowering Antilles." 

But his grandfather's were not the only travels 
he mused about. We have seen in Clara d'EUi- 
beuse that China attracted him. Adventure in far 
countries he found irresistible ; by preference the 
countries should be tropical, or at least richly 
caparisoned. From a child he had loved Sinbad 
and Robinson Crusoe, we find both these gentlemen 
in his poems. So he smoked and dreamed, and — 
managed to get as far as Amsterdam on the North, 
and Algiers on the South. 

One of his most charming poems in Le Deuil des 
Primevbres, published by the Mercure in 1901, is on 


Francis Jammes 245 

Les mftisons pointues ont I'air de pencher. On dirait 
qu'elles tombent. Les mSts des vaisseaiut qui s'embrouiUent 
dans le del sont penchfe comme des branches stehes 
au railieu de verdure, de rouge, de rouille, 
de harengs sauis, de peaux de moutons et de houille, 

Robinson Crusoe passa par Amsterdam, 

(je crois, du moins, qu'il y passa), en revenant 

de i'tle ombreuse et verte aujt nobc de coco fralches. 

Quelle ^notion il dut avoir quand il vit luire 

les portes 6iormes, aiix lourds marteaux, de cette ville ! . . . 

Regardait-il curieusement les entresols 

oii les commis ^crivent des livres de comptes ? 

Eut-il envie de pleurer en resongeant 

k son cher perroquet, k son lourd parasol 

qui I'abritait dans I'tle attrist6e et elements? 

"0 Etemell soyez b^ni," s'&riait-il 
devant les coffres peinturlur& de tulipes. 
Mais son cceur attrist^ par la joie du retour 
regrettait son chevreau qui, aujt vignes de I'fle, 
^tait rest^ tout seul et, peut-fitre, 6tait mort. 

Et j'iu pens6 k 9a devant les gros a 
oH Ton songe k des Juifs qui touchent des balances, 
avec des doigts osseaux nou& de bagues vertes. 
Vols ! Amsterdam s'endort sous les cils de la neige 
dans un parfunt de brume et de charbon amer. 

24fi Six French Poets 

Hier sotr les globes blancs des bouges allum&, 
d'oil Ton entend I'^tpel siffl^ des femmes lourdes, 
pendaient comme des fruits ressemblant k des gourdes. 
Bleues, rouges, vertes, les affiches y luisaient. 
L'amer picotcment de la bi^ sucrfe 
m'y a rflp^ la langue et d^mange au r\sz. 

Et, dans les quartiers juifs oil sont les detritus, 
on sentait I'odeur cme et ffoide du poisson. 
Sur les pavfe gluants ^taient des peaux d'orange, 
Une t£te boufGe ouvrait des yeux tout larges, 
un bras qui discutait agitait des oignons. 

Rebecca, vous vendiez k de petites tables 
quelques bonbons suants arrange pauvrement . . . 

On efit dit que le del, ainsi qu'une mer sale, 
versAt dans tes canaus des nuages de vagues. 
Fuinte qu'on ne voit pas, le calme commercial 
montait des toits cossus en nappes imposantes, 
et I'oD respirait I'lndc au confort des maisons. 

Ah I j'aiuais voulu Stre un grand n^gociant, 
de ceux qui autrefois s'en allaient d'Amsterdam 
vers la Chine, confiant 1 'administration 
de leur maison k de fiddles mandataires. 
Ainsi que Robinson j'aurais devant notaire 
sign^ pompeusement ma procuration. 

Alors, ma probity aurait fait ma fortune. 
Mon negoce eflt fleuri comme un rayon de lime 

Francis Jammes 

sur I'imposante proue de moo vaisseau bomb^. 
J'aurais regu chez moi les seigneurs de Bombay 
qu'el^t tent& mon spouse k la belle santf. 

Un nfigre aux anneaux d'or fflt venu du Mogol 
tiafiquer, souriant, bous son grand parasol I 
D aurait enchants de ses r^cits sauvages 
ma mince fille aln^, h. qui il eflt offert 
une robe en rubis fil€ par des esclaves. 

J'aur^ fait faire les portraits de ma famille 
par quelque habile peintre au sort infortun^ : 
ma femme belle et lourde, aux blondes joues ros^, 
mes fils, dont la beauty aurait charm£ la ville, 
et la grice diverse et pure de mes filles. 

C'est ainsi qu'aujourdliui, au lieu d'fitre moi-m6me, 
j'aurais €t€ un autre et j'aurais visits 
I'imposante maisoo de ces sidles passfe, 
et que, rfiveur, j'eusse laiss^ flotter men ftme 
devant ces simples mots ; 14 v&ut Francis Jammes. 

I hope you observed Robinson Crusoe. 

The Primevires begins with seventeen Elegies. 
The first one, to Albert Samain, I quoted in the 
second essay. These are followed by a reprint of 
La Jeune Fille Niie, and Le Pohle et I'Oiseau (which 
had been published two years before by L'Ermitage), 
a half-a-dozen new poems, and the fourteen poems 
printed at Orthez. 

248 Six French Poets 

Some time ago, I mentioned a poem on Madame 
de Warens, as being one of Jammes' best and most 
famous poems. This is it : 


Madame de Warens, vous regardiez I'orage 
plisser les arbres obscurs des tristcs CkarmetUs, 
ou bien vous jouiez aigrement de I'^inette, 
6 fcrame de raison que sermonnait Jean- Jacques I 

C'^tait un soir pareil, peut-^tre, k celui-ci . . . 
Par le toimerre noir le ciel Stait fl^tri . . . 
Une odeur de rameaux coupfs avant la pluie 
s'^levait tristement des bordures de buis . . . 

Et je revois, boudeur, dans son petit habit, 

& vos genoux, I'enfant po^te et philoEophe . . . 

Mais qu'avait-tl? . . . Pourquoi pleurant aux couchants roses 

regardait-il se balancer les nids de pies P 

Oh ! qu'i! vous supplia, souvent, du fond de Tame, 

de mettre un frein aux d^penses eiagSrSes 

que vous faisiez avec cette l^gdret^ 

qui est, h^las, le fait de la plupart des femmes . . . 

Mais vous, spirituelle, autant que douce et tendre, 
vous lui disiez t Voyez I le petit philosophe ! . . . 
Ou bien le poursuiviez de quelque drogue rose 
doot vous lui poudriez la perruque en riant. 

Francis Jammes 

DoiK asiles I Douces annto ! Douces retraites ! 
hes si£Bets d'aulne frais criaient parmi les hStres . . 
lie ch^vrefeuiHe jaune encadrait la fenfitre , . , 
On recevait parfois la visite d'un prfitre . . . 

Madame de Warens, vous aviez du goUt 
pour cet enfant k la figure un peu espi^gle, 
manquant de repartie, mats peu sot, et surtout 
habile k copier la musique selon les regies. 

Ah ! que vous eussiez dfl pleurer, femme inconstante, 

lorsque, le d^laissant, il dut s'en retouraer, 

seul, l^-bas, avec son pauvre petit paquet 

sur r^paule, k travels les sapins des torrents . . . 

Almaide d'Etremont ou I'Histoire d'une Jeune Fille 
Passionie appeared in igoi. The same remarks 
which apply to Clara d'BU6beuse apply to this story. 
It is too lovely to be garbled. I leave it to those 
who are sufficiently interested to read it. 

Jammes" next volume of poems was published in 
1902, and marks the end of an epoch, as far as his 
poetry is concerned. His next book of poems was 
written after his conversion, and the change is very 

Le Triomphe de la Vie contains only two poems : 
Jean de Noarrieu, and the long novel in verse, 
ExistcTtces. Jean de Noarrieu is a rich farmer, in 
love with his own waiting-maid, who, in turn, loves 


Six French Poets 

one of his shepherds. The old triangle ! Yes, of 
course, but Jammes is not engaged with literature, 
but with life as he sees it in the little villages of 
the Pyrenees. Whatever conventional morality is 
preached there, it seems certain that such villages 
share the common lot of rural communities and do 
not live it. At any rate, Lucie, the servant, per- 
mits her master to make love to her, and writes 
affectionate letters to the shepherd then on the 
mountain with his flocks, at the same time. The 
conventional novelist or poet would have worked 
up to a fine tragedy. Jammes is too truthful to do 
any such thing. Jean is careless, but not bad ; Lucie 
is unreliable, but not vicious. Autumn comes, and 
the shepherd returns from the mountain. Jean sees, 
from the way in which he and Lucie greet each other, 
that they are in love ; he has a momentary pang, 
but in the end does the sensible thing — hands the 
girl over to her lover. The unromantic end gives 
a hint that Jean may console himself elsewhere. 

Not much of a story, except for its unusual finish. 
But what is really interesting in the poem is the 
long succession of pictures of landscapes, and 
places, and labours. The book smells of hay, and 
freshly dug earth, and the sweet breath of cows. 

The poem begins with this passionate cry of de- 
light at the passing seasons : 

Je ne veux pas d'autre joie, quand I'^W 
reviendra, que celle de I'an pass€. 

Francis Jammes 251 

Sous les mtiscats dormants, je m'assoirai. 

Au fond des bois qui chantent de Teau fratche, 

j'6couterai, je sentirai, verrai 

tout ce qu'entend, sent et voit la foi^t. 

Je ne veux pas d'autre joie, quand Tautomne 

reviendra, que celle des feuilles jaunes 

qui racleront les coteaux oii il tonne, 

que le bruit souid du vin neuf dans les tonnes, 

que les dels lourds, que les vaches qui sonnent, 

que les mendiants qui demandent Taumdne. 

Je ne veux pas d'autre joie, quand lliiver 
reviendra, que celle des deux de fer, 
que la fum6e des grues gringant en I'air, 
que les tisons diantant oonune la mer, 
et que la lampe au fond des carreaux verts 
de la boutique oii le pain est amer. 

Je ne veux pas, quand revient le printemps, 
d'autre joie que celle de I'aigre vent, 
que les pfichers sans feuilles fleurissant, 
que les sentiers boueux et verdissants, 
que la violette et que I'oiseau chantant 
comme un ruisseau d'orage se gorgeant. 

That is a sort of invocation. The opening of the 
story follows, with a vivid picture of Jean de Noar- 
rieu, his kitchen, and the flitting shadow of the 
little servant, Lude: 

I Six French Poets 

Comme un troupeau en fum6e et laineux, 
le del marchait sous le vent pluvieux. 
La pluie luisait sur les ardoises bleues. 
Prte du portajl cria un char k boeufs. 
Un coq piqua un coq. Et, sur le vieux 
banc de noyer, b&illa Jean de Noarrieu. 

On entendit remuer la servante. 
La chemin^e, obscure et rougeoyante, 
flamba plus fort sous le chaudron luisant, 
Prte du bahut noir, graissfi par le temps, 
elle £datra ta gourde au lisse ventre, 
et le labrit s'^tira en b£lillant. 

Midi sonna. Le lard dans le po£lon 

gr^Ua. Et, contre le landier long, 

Lucie brisa avec pr Caution 

deux teufs de poule k coque rousse. Et Ton 

vit se gonfier A c6t^ du lard blond 

les oeufs qui criaient en faisant des bonds. 

Here is a little vignette of plates which gives the 
brightness of the kitchen, in a nutshell : 

Sur le dressoir sont les belles assiettes 
ou sont peints des oiseaux omSs d'aigrettes, 
de jaunes fruits et des fieurs violettes. 
Lucie remue, dans le panjer d'osier, 
I'argeaterie qui Sonne toute claire, 
change I'assiette et sourit k son maltre. 

Francis Jammes 253 

Easter comes, and the poet seems to shout and snap 
his fingers for sheer happiness : 

£t P^ues fleuries vint. All^uia I 

Oh I Douce £6te I Lliannonium gronda 

au ventre des 6glises. All^tiia I 

Le vert des prairies luisantes se dora. 

Les grillons cridrent. Alldltiia ! 

Dans la nuit bleue luirent les lilas. 

Un soir b^ et doux, Alldltiia, 
on entendit tout k coup ces lilas 
interpeller lentement les 6toiles. 
C'^tait, c'^tait, c'^tait, A1161uia, 
le rossignol, la lune ruissela, 
le rossignol en fleurs. All^uia I 

Renais, nature I Oh I Dans le jardin, vois 
le merisier tout blanc. All^uia I 
Le coeur delate . • • 

Lude and Jean go to drive, and cross a river by a 
little bridge: 

lis passent le pont l^er du torrent 
d'un vieux petit moulin tourbillonnant 
tout fait de mousse et de rire d'argent, 
d'un torrent joli comme en un roman, 
plein de cresson et de soleil tremblant 
et de cailloux sur des cailloux roulant. 

354 '5** French Poets 

II rebondit. lis voient et ils entendent 
le frisson clair dont tremble I'eau courante. 
La roue, charg^ de mousse transparente, 
ruisselle et brille, comme brille au printemps, 
quelquG vall^ d'^meraude et d'argent 
dans I'azur creux de Bigtmres riantes. 

Here is a hot day in July. They are cutting the com : 

Ce fut la canicule de Juillet ; 
les stigmates des mais s'argent^rent, 
et leurs ^tamines se dessfch&rent. 
Le gest« rood dont on 6tend le blfi 
avec la faux au rateau attach& 
sonna dans le trembletnent du soIeiL 

La faux qui pousse uo clair g&nissement 

rasa le bl6 et les liserons blancs, 

la salicaire et le chardon volant. 

La chaleur fit cr^iter dans les champs 

la paille creuse, aiguC, ronde et brisante. 

Et Mata la cigale grin£ante. 

Son cri prit feu, soudain, comme la poudre, 
se continuant d'arbre en arbre, et toute 
la plaine bleue courbfe sur le blfi roux, 
k I'heure de la sieste oil rien ne bouge, 
fit ce sifHemeot qu'entre ses dents pousse 
un enfant qui excite un chien sur la route. 

Tout, hors ce cri d&hirant, fit silence. 

Francis Jammes 255 

I have no words to describe the effect those three 
stanzas have on me. They carry me back to terribly 
hot days of my childhood, when the locusts scraped 
and sang so loud they seemed to make it hotter. 
Notice the wonderful accuracy and beauty of say- 
ing that the grasshopper's cry "took fire like powder 
and ran from tree to tree." Listen to this descrip- 
tion of a quiet, moonlit, Summer night : 

Dehors, la nuit coupe la lune claire. 
Les arbres sont de I'orabre plus Spaisse, 
une ombre si ^paisse qu'on dirait 
qu'ils ont ea eux I'ombre de la joum^, 
et que cett« ombre en eux s'est retiree 
pour y dormir jusqu'4 la matinee. 

Quel silence d'amour que n'interroinpt 
que le gr6sillement du crapaud qu'on 
entend soiis quelque pierre du perron . . . 
La lune, h, travers le catalpa, raonte. 
On distingue ses continents que ronge 
une lumi^ oil s'endonnent des songes . . . 

Le jardin prie. On sent battre le cceur 
des ptehes dans le silence de Dieu. 
Elles sont duvets comme la lueur 
des joues fclatantes de ces danseuses 
qui, 4 Laruns, pareiUes i des fleurs, 
se d^loient en lentes rondes p 

Les fruits pSsent davantage la nuit. 
La nuit semble s'appuyer sur les fruits. 

256 Six French Po^ 

Us s'inclmeiit comme Jean et Luck. 
On aime en tremblant. Les balsers finisseat 
plus lentement, coimne ces roades rides 
que SUT I'eau font oaltre et mourir les brises. 

Et les 6toiIes se Invent une k une. 
Et Jean, au milieu des vitres obscures, 
les voit briller, blanches, jaunes et pures. 
Au sud, lentement, se tr^ent des nues 
gon6^ d'orage qui, parfois, sur la lune, 
passent un instant puis la laissent nue. 

What a genius the man is ! 

Existences is a sordid enough tale, relieved by the 
poet who is the chief character in it. It is wonder- 
fully clever. Far and away the best thing I know 
for the realistic treatment of a story in verse. And 
it is really realistic too, for that there is beauty in 
the world is admitted by the author and mentioned 
by the poet. Most "realistic" novels stoutly deny 
it, I believe. Again in Existences, we have the 
sharply etched pictures, and they are all I am going 
to give of this long poem of one hundred and seventy- 
two pages. Those who can bear the somewhat broad 
stating of malodorous facts will find the novel most 
interesting, other people should not attempt to read 
it. It is certainly very remarkable, but I do not 
say that it is pleasant. 

Here is a description of the utter I 
monotony of a little town : 

- boredom and I 

Conune toutes ces boutiques sont paralldles 1 

Toutes les petites villes sont pareilles, 

A droite ; Epicene. A gauche : Teinturerie. 

A droite : Gendarmerie. A gauche : Pharmacie. 

A droite : Auberge. A gauche: MSgisserie. 

A droite : Avou6. A gauche ; M^edn. 

Puis dix ou douze maisons bourgeoises, avec jardins 

pleins de feuillages bleus et de roses tr^ml^res 

et la chaleur luisante et n 

L&-bas? C'est la mairie et son paratoimerre, 

et la place cair^, d'onneaux, avec des chalnes . . . 

Zola and Jammes are the only men who have known 
enough about life to mingle poetry with their 
"realism." Witness this: 

Qu'elle est belle la nuit sur la petite ville 1 
Onze heures bleues ! Le tulipier de ce jardin 
sur I'ombre de la lune est plus doux que n'est douce 
la ligne des coteaux d'argent bleu dans le loin. 
Lune claire I On ne salt, tant il fait beau et clair, 
pourquoi Ton ne vit pas, la nuit, comme les lifivres. 
Pereonne dans la rue. Un grillon crie. Un chat 

a sans doute une angine. 
Je voudrais ne pas me coucher dans mon lit, m'^tendre 
dans un champ, et oager dans cette lueur bleue. 

i« Roman du Liivre came out in 1903. The two 
earlier stories were included in it, and the notes of 
Jammes' journey to Algiers, and his pilgrimage to 
Les Ckarmettes. M. Henri Bordeaux encountered 


Six French Poets 

him there, and has written how they both searched 
vainly for the forgotten grave of Madame de Warens 
in the little cemetery of Saint-Pierre-de-L6menc. 
There are many other things in Le Roman du Lihvre ; 
among them, the history of the poor little hare 
himself, chased by dogs, and killed with a gun. 

Jammes loves animals, as I said before. Since 
the days when the shooting of the monkey set him 
trembling, he has suffered with them, and for them. 
His dog figures often in his poems. There are many 
creatures in his books : cats, kingfishers, larks, 
butterflies. He has sung of wasps, their humming, 
their flight, when they seem like golden balls. La 
Fontaine's rabbit, the beasts which followed Saint 
Francis of Assisi, and those with whom Robinson 
Crusoe consoled himself on his Island, Jammes has 
loved them and written about them all. 

As a child, his sensibility was extreme. A natural 
kindness of heart caused him to dower even minerals 
and vegetables with a nervous system like his own, 
and in consequence he suffered profoundly whenever 
he thought they must be suffering, "A piece of 
furniture riddled with worms," he says, "a gun with 
a broken spring ; a swollen drawer, or the soul of a 
violin suddenly drawn false, such are the sorrows 
which agitate me," 

Jammes' is a heart full of compassion. For every 
being, for every thing. Little by little, his pity, 
his compassion, his love for the simple, beautiful 



Francis Jammes 


side of the Church brought him back to it. The 
conversion was finished by a friend of his (Claudel, 
I think), lately returned from the Far East, who 
worked over him and persuaded him. From this 
moment, there is a change in Jammes' work. Cer- 
tain of his most pronounced characteristics dis- 
appear. Has it changed for the better or for the 
worse ? I thought for the worse until his last book, 
FeuiUes dans le Venl, came out. When its contents 
were written I do not know, but they are no whit 
inferior to any of the best things he has done. It 
must be admitted that Jammes' Catholicism is a 
very sweet and lovable thing. He is certainly 
cousin-german to Saint Francis in his whole manner 
of thinking. 

Pensee des Jardins was pubHshed in 1906, pre- 
ceded by Pomme d'Anis ou t'Histoire d'une FUle 
Infirme, another of Jammes' graceful, fanciful stories 
of fifty years ^o. Perhaps this is the loveliest of all 
his tales, and again I must not spoil it by touching 
it ill-advisedly. 

PensSe des Jardins is an adorable little book in 
both poetry and prose, full of animals and flowers. 
The prose part consists of notes, apparentiy just 
jotted down for safe keeping. One, entitled Sur le 
Chat, says: "Le Chat, ce chien des pauvres . . ." 
and that is the whole of it. In another, called 
Premiires Journees de Printemps, is this enchanting 
line; "J'aime ce qui est nacr6, ce qui est phospho- 


Six French Poets 

rescent aamine un jardin d'Avril," Here is i 
nice thing: "C'est la fragility des hautes branches 
qui prot^e la fragility des nids." Pensee des Jar- 
dins ends with seven poems called "Some Donkeys." 
Christ's donkey is here, and Sancho Panza's, and 
Beatrice's ; there is a learned donkey, and a donkey 
who has been beaten, finally there is the gardener's 
donkey, so packed with vegetables that he looks like 
an ambulatory garden. 

The first one of Jammes' purely poetic books to 
be published after his conversion was L'Eglise 
Habillee de Feuilles, 1906. The church which he 
here describes is the little chapel of Noarrieu, whose 
spire dominates three valleys. Jammes has said 
that "prayer is the sister of the birds," Here, in 
this little church hidden in the leaves, we can well 
understand that Jammes found the sympathy of 
surrounding that he desired. M. Touny Ldrys, a 
friend of his, wrote in an article published in L'Ann^e 
Poetique : " I remember one evening going to 
church with Francis Jammes, and seeing him pray. 
He troubled me profoundly, as much by the abandon 
of his body as by the expression of his face, and I 
felt that he was not really there any more, but away, 
very far away . . . with God." One poem from 
L'Eglise Habillee de Feuilles will show what he has 
lost, what he has gained, what he has kept. Per- 
haps there is rather less high spirits, and more tender- 

Francis Jammes 261 

La patx des champs s'dtend autour de la chapelle. 

Et, au carrefour poudreux, parmj les avoines, 

les menthes, les chicor&s et les aigremoines, 

se dresse un grand Christ de bois creux oil les abeilles 

ont fait leur nid. Et on peut voir, dans le soleil, 

aller, venir, ccs affair^es pleines de miel 

comme des lettres noires 6crites dans le del. 

De quoi noumr son Dieu si ce n'est pas de mid? 
Parfois le cantonnier qui casse des cailloux 
l^e la tfite et voit le Christ, le seul ami 
qu'i! ait sur cette rout« ou pa!pit€ Midi, 
Pour casser les cailloux I'ouvrier est k genoux 
dans I'ombre de ce Christ dont le flanc est vermeil. 
Et tout le miel alors chante dans le soteil. 

Le poSte contemple et ra^dite. 11 se dit, 
devant le lent frisson des champs, que chaque 6pi 
est du peuple de Dieu la sage colonie 
dont chaque grain attend, pour Stre vivifi*:, 
que des grottes du Ciel I'eau se soit dlanc^. 
II se dit que ce grain dfisormais va pousser 
dans I'azur pr^cieux que tout approfondit 
et, qu'image du Fils de Dieu, nS lui aussi 
dans une grotte, il nourrira ceux qui ont faim. 
Et r^pi qui naltra k son tour de ce grain 
aura la forme d'un clocher dans une aurore. 

Another book of poems, Clairihes dans le Ciel, 
came out in 1906. One is glad to find in it, along 
with the new tenderness, all the old, merry, wise 
humour. For instance : 

Six French Poets 


L'enfant lit Talmanach prfe de son panier d'oeufs. 
Et, en dehors des Saints et du temps qu'il fera, 
elle peut contempler les beaiax signes des deux : 
Ckiore, Taurcau, Bilier, Poissons, et csetera. 

Ainsi peut-elle croire, petite paysanne, 

qu'au-dessus d'cUe, dans les constellations, 

il y a des marchfe pareils avec des fines, 

des taureaux, des b^liers, des ch^vres, des poissons. 

C'est le march^ du Ciel sans doute qu'elle lit. 
Et, quand la page toume au signe des Balatuxs, 
elle se dit qu'au Ciel comme 4 1' Epicene 
on ptee le caf6, le sel et les consciences. 

Sometime about this period, the poet married. But 
whom, we, the public, are not told in any of the 
books about Jammes. But one day the little church 
in its leaves 

. . . alldgretnent sonnait 
Car la fille d'un metayer se mariait. 

From this time, Jammes' work takes on a greater 
peace and contentment. In a poem, Le Poile et sa 
Femme, we have the companion picture to Un Jour, 
La Naissance du Poite, La Mart du Poile, La Jeune 
Fille Nue, and Le Po^te el I'Oiseau. But how very 
different the picture is! In this poem, in spite of 
its sad ending, there is a sense of happiness and 

Francis Jammes 263 

satisfaction pervading the whole. The poet speaks 
to his wife and she replies : 

Que le vent est Hger ! II soulfive la treille . . . 
Reste ainsi, mon amie, dans cette molle veille . . . 
Tantdt je regardais tes bras quond tu fanais . . . 
lis savent purement vers ton cceur se courber. 
Quelle est I'fimotion, quand je touche tes yeux, 
qui fait que je ne pense h rien d'autre qa'k eux? 
Quel est le sentiment, si je t'entends chanter, 
qui fait que c'est ma voix qui me semble etnpruntfe? 
Qu'est-ce qui fait que quand tu poses sur mon coeur 
ton (X£ur, je nous confonds dans la mtoie douceur ? 


Que tu sais me parler avec des mots jolis I 

Moi qui ne sais, helas I r^pondre en po^e, 

je t'aime cependant. Si ;e ne sais te rendre 

I'amour en vers charmants, crois bien que je sais prendre 

toute r^motion que tu veux me donner, 

et que je suis k toi avec simplicity. 

B^ni soit le travail s'il infiige k mes bras 

la courbe que tu veux et qui t'enlacera . . . 

C'est que la podsie est I'ame de la vie. 

C'est moi qui la cultive et toi qui la fleuris. 

Denis, je ne suis rien que la pauvre servante 

qui feoute avec foi la parole savante. 

The sequel to Le Pohte et sa Femme is a little prose 
book. Ma Fille Bernadette, 1910, which records the 


Six French Poets 

birth and early babyhood of Jammes' Utile daughter. 
The dedication to Marie de Nazareth, Mire de Dieu 
is really a miracle of prose beauty : 


En Vous dddtant cette ceuvre, je Vous d^e aus^ ma fille 
Bernadette dont la patronne, dans mon pays natal qui est la 
Bigorre montagneuse, Vous a vue. 

Les vieux botanistes Vous d&iiaient aussi leurs flores et on 
Vous peignait h, la premise page, debout. Votre fils dans les bras, 
tout entour^ de lilas, de radi^ bleues, de roses, de gloxinias, 
de weig^lias, de pivoines, de boules-de-neiges, de lis, de ces mille 
fieurs qui ne reviendront plus parce qu'eUes ne sent plus cueillies 
pour Vous par les robustes rSveuscs qui se levatent au rnatin des 
myosotis et s'endonnaient au couchant des capucines. 

Vous files la mfire de tous les hommes et de Dieu. Vous fites 
n^e ^ Nazareth aussi simplement que ma Bemadette k Orthez. 
On a dit la v^rit6. On n'a pas invent^ pour Vous une origine 
extraordinaire. Je Vous tiens dans mon eoeur comme une cer- 
titude. Je suis inintelligent, c'est possible, mais I'encens de 
toutes les fleurs cr^&s s'elfive pour Vous de la terre et Vous le 
changez en amour comme ce rosier grimpant qui s'^lance i. la 
cime des cMres. 

Vous voyez que je ne sais plus bien ce que j'^cris, mais ma 
pensfe s'attache a Vous ainsi que cette liane fleurie et je Vous 
d&lie cette pauvre oeuvre coimne une servante son pot de rfs^- 
das, et il tremble dans mes mains ^lev&s. 

Little Bemadette is followed in her uprising and 
downsitting. She cuts her first tooth, sees her first 
snow storm, is vaccinated, has croup, is taught to 

Francis Jammes 


say her prayers. And all with an ineffable sweet- 
ness, delicacy, and charm. The father loves his 
little daughter so much that the pages of the book 
seem warm, like the palm of a hand. 

It is amusing to see, however, that this new life 
which has entered his, only makes the poet hark 
back, by a natural process, to those which have 
preceded them both. The last part of the volume is 
given over to Bernadette's ancestors, and here we 
encounter once more that grandfather who played 
so lai^e a part in the poet's youthful imagination, 
and have again those souvenirs of Guadeloupe 
which hang like a faint perfume over the poet's 

Jammes' last book of poems is Les Giorgiques 
Chritiennes, 1912. How much of a CathoHc he has 
become, may be best understood by quoting in full 
a note at the beginning of the book. "On the 
threshold of this book 1 confirm that 1 am a Roman 
Catholic, submitting very humbly to all the deci- 
sions of my Pope, His Holiness Pius X, who speaks 
in the name of the True God, and that I do not ad- 
here either closely or at a distance to any schism, 
and that my faith does not permit any sophism, 
neither the modernist sophism, nor other sophisms ; 
under no pretence will I separate myself from the 
most uncompromising and most loved of dogmas: 
the Roman Catholic dogma which is the truth come 
from the mouth of our Lord Jesus Christ by his 

366 Six French Poets 

Church. I reprove in advance all forestalling 
which the ideologues, the philosophers, and the 
reformers would wish to do with this poem." Les 
GSorgiqiies Ckretiennes is a whole book dealing with 
the agricultural labours of a year, it must be ad- 
mitted that it is a little tedious. The following 
stanzas are interesting as showing his method, not 
merely in this poem, but in many ; 

C'est ainsi que le vers dont j'use est bien classique, 
D6g^€ simplement par la seule logique. 

Aprte un grand combat oii ) 'avals pris parti 

Je regarde et comprends qu'on s'est peu d6parti. 

Devenu trop sonore et trap facile et I&che 
Le pur alexandrin, si beau jadis, rAbache. 

Le vers libre ne nous fit pas trte bien sentir 
Oil la strophe s'en vient commencer et fink. 

Mais quelques liberty, quand il les voulait toutes, 
Ce dernier les conquit. Elles ouvrent la route. 

Si fares qu'elles soient, elles sont bien assez. 
Les vers seront €gaux et pas assonanc& 

Comme I'oiseau r^pond ^ son tour h roiselle 
La rime male suit une rime femelle. 

Quoique les vers entre eux ainsi soient relics 
J'accepte qu'un pluriel rime k un singulier, 

Francis Jammes 267 

Encor tel que Toiseau, qui du del prend mestire, 
Le rythme id et 14 h^ite k la ensure. 

Lliiatus quelquefois vient k point rappeler 
Celui qui est po^te au plus simple parler. 

Alors que Ve muet s'^diappe du langage 

Je ne veux pas qu'il marque en mon vers davantage. 

Les syllabes comptdes sont celles seulement 
Que le lecteur prononce habituellement. 

Ayant fix^ ce bref mais siir art po^tique, 
Mon inspiration me rouvre son portique. 

Jammes' last book is called FeuUles dans le Vent, 
and was published in 1913. It contains some re- 
prints, among others Pamme d'Anis, and some of 
the Notes from Pensie des Jardins. But the interest- 
ing things in it are two stories, UAuberge des Douleurs 
and UAuberge sur la Route. This is from the latter 
tale, and it is in prose, but I submit that it is never- 
theless very beautiful poetry : 

Le vent courait sur la soie bleue des bl^ et la ridait, et la 
cr^celle des cri-cris tremblait comme un timbre de petite gare. 
La ligne de lliorizon dormait, 6tendue au-dessus des ^is, et les 
feuilles des chaumes se soulevaient et retombaient telles que des 
oriflammes de m&ts pour sauterelles. Parfois, on apercevait 
dans le del un nuage comme un bosquet d'ombres qui se serait 

268 Six French Poets 

enlev^ de la coUine, et, cependant qu'il glissait, elle s'illuminaity 
s'obscurcissaity s'illuminait k nouveau. 

VAuberge des Douleurs is even more delightful, but 
I will not spoil any of it by breaking a little piece off. 

Francis Jammes is still living at Orthez. He is 
still in the prime of life: forty-seven. It is im- 
possible to suppose that he will not go on producing 
for some time to come. He has already had a great 
effect upon the younger generation, and if there do 
not seem to be any poets who can be exactly called 
his disciples, it is partly because he has never sought 
disciples, and partly because the best part of him 
cannot be copied. 



In preparing this chapter, I learnt a strange 
thing. I had half suspected it before, but now I 
know it beyond peradventure of a doubt — the 
world, which Is always affected by exteriors, carries 
that principle even to typography- 
It so happened that I was unable to get a biog- 
raphy of Paul Fort, which I needed, from abroad. 
Hoping they might have it, I tried the Public 
Library. I was not surprised that that particular 
volume was not forthcoming, but I was surprised 
when the library proved to contain not one single 
volume of Paul Fort. 

The reason that this is so strange is that Paul 
Fort is the one poet writing in French, who (as soon 
as he becomes known) is certain to share with Ver- 
haeren the unqualified admiration of English -speak- 
ing people. Both in matter and manner, we cannot 
fail to understand him. His admiration for the 
English poets is unbounded, and he tells us that he 
has modelled himself upon them. 

Are his books hard to get, are they few and far 
between ? — you will ask. Not at all. In the past 


Six French Poets 

nine years, he has published sixteen volumes of verse. 
They are the ordinary paper-covered volumes of 
modem French commerce, lemon-hued and inviting, 
selling at the usual price of three francs, fifty cen- 
times, and they are for sale at every book-shop in 

Then what is the matter ? — you will ask again. 
The matter (idiotic though it may sound) is a ques- 
tion of typography. Paul Fort prints his poems as 
prose. That is the obscuring veil which keeps him 
from being known. You print words in a line — 
long lines, short lines, uneven lines (thank Heaven ! 
you are permitted so much liberty) — and they are 
instantly recognized as poetry. You print the same 
lines in a block, like prose, and you are undone. If 
some unwary reader, sitting down to a good bit of 
prose, should happen to read it aloud, behold, it is 
poetry ! The reader is confused, then angry. 
Things are not what they seemed, not, in fact, 
what they purported to be. To find one's self in- 
veigled into reading poetry when one thought it was 
prose, when by every typographical sign it should 
have been prose, 'tis a charlatan's trick, rank dis- 
honesty ! Or, if not quite that, at any rate it makes 
one feel very uncomfortable, 

Paul Fort says that he has sacrificed his popu- 
larity to his theory. And at first that was no doubt 
true. But he has won the game at last, in his own 
V country. He has been elected by popular suffrage 


Paul Fort 


"Prince des Pontes," a fact which I shall come back 
to later. Only, the excellent gentlemen who buy the 
French books for the public libraries are a bit be- 
hind the times, and a prose which jumps at one in 
unexpected rhymes is a fearsome thing in a foreign 
language. It is probably the same all over England 
and America, and so this most universal genius of 
all living Frenchmen remains very little known out 
of France. The "Nineteenth Century" for Decem- 
ber, 1914, contained a sympathetic article by a 
young English poet of much promise, James Elroy 
Flecker, on Fort, recommending him to his coun- 
trymen. A pathetic interest attaches to this article, 
in that its author was already dying when it ap- 
peared, and his subsequent death makes it the last 
word he felt it important to say, the last effort 
worth making. 

Paul Fort classes himself as a Symboliste ; why, it 
is a little hard to say, except that he regards Sym- 
bolisme as another term for liberty. And Fort is 
fairly intoxicated with the Idea of liberty. But he 
employs his liberty for quite other purposes than 
those of the real Symbolisles. Paul Fort is the 
modem man. Exteriorising, full of vitality and 
vigour, and " la joie de vivre." I know no one except 
Sam Welter who seems to me so bubblingly alive. 
He positively bounces with delight through poem 
after poem. He is intensely interested in every- 
thing, and a good motto for his sixteen volumes 

274 ■5'»* French Poets 

would be Stevenson's 

The world is so full of a number of thiags, 
I am sure we should all be as happy as kings. 

Nature, people, books, all 611 him with enthusiastic 
interest, and to all he gives an equal share of 
himself, having the power to devote himself en- 
tirely to whichever one he b occupied with for the 

More than that, he is so genuinely sympathetic, 
that, almost unconsciously it would seem, his style 
changes with his subject. He is master of what 
Matthew Arnold would have called " the grand 
style," but he is also past-master of a hail-fellow- 
well-met diction to sing the preoccupations of the 
Breton sailors. Not even Byron has so fine an irony 
as he; and Henri de R^gnier in Le Roman d'un Jeune 
Homme Sage has not caught the naive simplicity of 
adolescence any better, any more delicately, than 
he has done in Paris Sentimental. 

Let me illustrate. Here are two poems which have 
for subject nothing at all but the extreme happiness 
of being alive. The "great intoxication," as it is to 


Par les nuits d'6t6 bleues oili chantent les cigales, Dieu vene 
BUT la Prance une coupe d'^toiles. Le vent porte k ma Ifivre un 
godt du del d'6t6 1 Je veux boire i. I'espace fr^chement argents. 

L'aif du soir est pour moi le bord de la coupe froide oil, les 
yeux ini-(erm6s et la bouche goulue, je bois, comme le jus presaS 
d'une grenade, la fralcheur €toil^ qui se r^pand des nues. 

Couch^ sur un gazon dont I'herbe est encor chaude de s'6tre 
prtilassfe sous I'haleine du jour, oh! que je viderais, ce soir, 
avec amour, la coupe immense et bleue oil le firmament rdde ! 

Suis-je Bacchus ou Pan? je m'enivre d'espace, et j'apaise ma 
fifivre 4 la fralcheur des nuits. La bouche ouverte au ciel oil gre- 
lottent les astres, que le ciel coule en moi ! que je me foode en lui 1 

Eoivrfe par I'espace et les cieux 6toilfe, Byron et Lamartine, 
Hugo, Shelley sont morts. L'espace est toujours 14; ii coule 
illimit^; k peine ivre il m'emporte, et j'avais soif encorel 

The second is one of those Chansons for which 
Fort is so famous. 


La mer brille au-dessus de la haie, la mer brille comme une 
coquille. On a envie de la pficher. Le ciel est gai, c'est joli Mai. 

C'est dou:t la mer au-dessus de la haie, c'est dous comme 
une main d'enfant. On a envie de la caresser. Le del est gai, 
c'est joli Mai. 

Et c'est aux mains vives de la brise que vivent et brillent des 
aiguilles qui cousent la mer avec la haie. Le ciel est gai, c'est 
joli Mai. 


Six French Poets 

La mer pr^sente sur la hale ses £rivoles papillonn^es. Petits 
navires vont naviguer. Le del est gai, c'est joli Mai. 

La haie, c'est les profondeurs, avec des scarab^es en or. Les 
haleines sont plus vilaines. Le ciel est gai, c'est joli Mai. 

Si doux que larme sur la joue, la mer est larme sur la haie qui 
doucement descend au port. Mais on n'a gu^ envie de pleurer. 

— "Un gars est tomb^ dans le port!" — "Mort dans la 
mer, c'est jolie mort." Mais on n'a gu^re envie de pleurer. Le 
del est gai, c'est joli Mai ! 

1 am at a loss to know what to do among these 
sixteen volumes. I do not know where to begin. 
To note them chronologically is of no value, for Paul 
Fort is not one of the poets who grows old. He re- 
news himself perpetually, but the renewal is only 
to greater vigour, farther delight. And this is per- 
haps natural, for in spite of the immense amount of 
work he has done, Fort is still a young man. Yet 
that does not always follow. Usually, a man would 
seem to have only a certain amount in him. Some- 
times he matures slowly and begins to produce late. 
I have heard it said that Shakespeare was thirty 
before he began to write, and we know that the 
painter Gauguin was forty before he touched a 
brush. Daniel Webster, too, was some forty odd 
before he made a speech. 

Paul Fori 



The contrary is often true: a man whose creative 
power exhausts itself in early youth. Are we so 
sure that Keats was unlucky to die young ? The 
dismal, and academic "Hyperion," so praised by the 
conventional critic, makes us pause and consider 
the question. In our own time, William Butler-AtT 
Yeats is a case in point His excellent and brilliant 
work was all done in his twenties. Since then he 
has been like a haunted man, pursued by the ghost 
of his own poetry. 

It is characteristic of Paul Fort, characteristic of 
the robustness of his nature, physical and mental 
alike, that, beginning young, he should still be 
writing with unimpaired vigour. 

Paul Fort was bom in Rheims on the first of 
February, 1872, In a pathetic letter, written re- 
cently, he tells that he was bom right opposite the 
Cathedral — "la Cath6drale assassin^e," as he calls 
it. What the destruction of the Cathedral must 
have meant to him, we can faintly understand, 
loving it, as we must, only as a beautiful, strange 
thing. In a poem written since the burning of 
Rheims, he tells as much as he can of its place 
in his childhood. He tells of his father crying out 
at the first sign of real notice in his baby eyes, 
" II voit ! il voit ! il voit !" and turning him toward 
"I'lglise sublime;" how, as he grew 

, . . elle naquit pour moi, r&lle, grande, immense et ikv6t 
i, la fois. 

378 Six French Poets 

EUe naquit pour moi, devin^ par mes yeux, ua m&tin de 
printemps au cri des hirondelles. Mes menottes out cru la 
prendre au bleu cieux ! Renassant chaque aurore elle m'6taic 
fiddle, tout habitfe de saints, de rois et de h^ros, et d'anges i 
mi'vol, comme un arbre d'oiseaux. 

Grand jouet de mon ime, O fran^aise for6t de pierres, et vos 
tours, mes inunense hochets, vous £tes demeur^ le seul Jeu de 
raon 5me, avec les trois hauts porches, en triangle de flamme, 
et dessus eux la Rose ou Ton voit voltigce des pigeons becque- 
tant les reflets passagers. 

Puis quand je suis enfin venu, ma Cath^drale, mSler un cerf- 
volant aux ailes de tes anges, que j'ai de tous mes cris fait sonncr 
ton parvis et, les cheveux au vent et poursuivant mes cris, en- 
tour^ tes vieux murs des cent jeux de I'enfance . . . 

The poem is too long to quote entire, but is it sur- 
prising that it has this stanza, constantly repeated 
as a refrain? 

Monstrueux g&i6nil baron von Plattenberg, si je vous dois ce 
chant d'amour i mon ^glise, je vous donne en retour, bien qu'im- 
mortalisent, Ic soufflet de pontes et I'&hafaud du Verbe, — mais 
je tiens raagazin de haine consacr6e h. tous les Allemands que 
j'ai pu rencontrer. 

Who were Fort's parents, and how, and why, he 
went to Paris, the lack of the volume I have men- 
tioned makes it impossible for me to say. But to 

Paul Fort 


Paris he went, and there, at the incredibly early age of 
eighteen, he founded a little theatre, the Thedlre d'Art. 

It was a protest against the naturaUstic generation 
who held sway over the Thedtre Libre, and, oddly 
enough, this audacious undertaking had a certain 
success. What are we to make of a youth of eight- 
een who, alone, almost without resources, con- 
ceives such an idea, and carries it through? Fort's 
actors were engaged to receive no wages ; his scenes 
were painted for him, presumably by enthusiastic 
and unpaid friends, among them being Gauguin and 
Maurice Denis ; and plays were submitted, plays in 
manuscript and quite unactable, which were acted 
nevertheless. For Fort stuck at nothing in pursuit 
of his theory ; what he wished to do should be done, 
and thanks to his energy and brains, was done. 

Fort was possessed of the idea that the old and 
excellent, even if forgotten, should be mixed with 
the new. Everything which was intrinsically worthy 
of dramatic representation should have its turn. On 
they went — pell-mell. An assortment of a kind 
to make the ordinary and experienced theatrical 
manager faint dead away. 

The Thedtre d'Art mounted Shelley's "Cenci," of 
all extraordinary ventures; and, perhaps not quite 
so queer, but still sufficiently unusual, the "Dr. 
Faustus" of Christopher Marlowe. In both these 
pieces, Fort took a part himself. It seems as though 
at this time he expected to become an actor. 

Six French Poets 

For modern plays, the Thedtre d'Art gave Les Uns 
et Les Autres, by Verlame ; L'Intruse and Les Aveu- 
gles, by Maeterlinck ; La Voix du Sang and Madame 
La Mort, by Rachilde ; Thiodat, by Remy de Gour- 
mont ; Les Flaireurs, by Van Lerberghe ; it even 
gave Le Concile Fierique, by Signoret ; and Le 
Corbeau, by Mallarm^. How it gave the latter, 
unless it was merely read, possibly in costume, I 
fail to understand, as Le Corbeau is simply a trans- 
lation of Poe's "Raven." But nothing seems to 
have been unattemptable to Fort, who went so far 
as to dare to produce an adaptation of the first book 
of the "Iliad." 

De Gourmont says in his Promenades Litliraires, 
that Sarcey enjoyed these performances so much that 
he never missed one, and that he wrote happily in 
an article on the subject: "These studio-farces took 
until two o'clock in the morning to finish." From 
this remark it Is quite obvious tliat Fort's public 
was composed of young and enthusiastic students of 
the arts like himself. But he certainly had a pub- 
lic; and when the Thedtre d'Art moved from the 
Marais to Montpamasse, and from Montpamasse 
to Montmartre, the public went with it. 

The Thedtre d'Art broke up in 1893. Why, I do 
not know, possibly from lack of funds, that most 
important factor in all theatrical enterprises, even 
when the actors work for nothing and the perform- 
ances last until two o'clock in the morning. Or 

^^ pos 
I his 

r I 

Paul Fort 


possibly Fort had discovered that acting was not 
his vocation. 

In 1890, the year he started his theatre, Fort had 
published a Httle play of inconsiderable importance, 
La Petite BSte. This, you see, was just in the hey- 
day of his preoccupation with the theatre. But 
three years as an actor and manager taught him 
that the theatre offered no scope to his particular 
talents. Description, in which he excels, has no 
place in theatrical writing. Fort definitely aban- 
doned it for the free medium of verse, pure and 

There is no doubt, however, that the years in the 
theatre were of the utmost value to Fort as a poet. 
A keen dramatic instinct he must always have had, 
but the practical training of this instinct gave him 
an extraordinary mastery over the difficult art of 
dramatic verse. Dramatic verse in contradistinction 
to drama. One of the reasons for the dullness of 
most narrative f)oems is that their authors do not 
understand the manipulation of the dramatic. 
Dullness is the one unpardonable sin in all the arts, 
but in the theatre it is suicidal. A play must "get 
over," or it is damned. Now this quality of "get- 
ting over" Fort has to an eminent degree. Let me 
illustrate by two selections from Le Roman de Louis 
XI. The first one is where the king, having heard 
of the death of his natural son, goes incognito and 
by night to find out if the rumour is true; 

Six French Poets 

La nuit glisse ^paisse et froide dans Paris, Deux ombres 
dans I'ombre, deux petites ombres maigres s'agitent frileusement, 
puis glissent dans la nuit. 

— Doux sire, j'ai jurtf. Cette nuit, nous partons. 

— C'est bien, suis-moi, suis-moi. 

De petites nielles en petites ruelles, deux petites ombres 
maigres s'agitent dans le froid, — puis s'arrttent. 

L4, devant une masure 4 demi entetrfe, ime voix, une petite 
voix aigre-douce, aigrelette, une petite voix que mouillent des 
sanglots : 

— Je ne suis lion, ni loup, ni renard, je suis un homme, Croy. 
Frappe & cette porte, Cray! Id, bien, Appelle: Dame Si- 
monne des ChaSnes ! 

— Dame Simonne des Chalnes ! 

— Bien. Ecoute, fcoute 1 . . . Demande s'il n'est pas mort, 
hier, quelqu'un chez elle. 

— Dame Simonne 1 Est-il mort, hier, quelqu'un ici? 

— H^las, doux seigneur 1 vous le savez done, vous? Mon 
fils Joachim, mon fits, la nuit demi^. 

— Je ne suis lion, ni loup, ni renard, je suis un horame. Croy, 
reviens, soutiens-moi ! Joachim! , . . Croy! je ne suis lion, 
ni loup, ni renard, je suis tous trois. Croy, je suis un homme. 
Adieu, 6 petit Stre! . . . Joachim I Joachim! Allons, bien! 
partons. Dame Simonne me fut . . . Dame Simonne m'^tait 
, . . Je suis un homme, Croy, je pleure un petit 6tre . . . 
Joachim ! H^las ! . . . mon petit enfant . . . 


La nuit glisse 6paisse et froide dans Paris, deux petites om- 
bres maigres butent, glissent, s'agit«nt. Oh 1 quelle petite voix 
aigrelette, aigrelette ... Oh ! ses petits cris d&hirfe. 

The second is a gay account of Louis, with his gentle- 
men and their attendant mistresses, fishing in the 

La nouvelle ftait si charmante, — un oncle mort si h propos 1 
— mon doux petit Louis XI voulut bien la ffiter, mais intime- 
ment, en genlille soci^t^. 

Maitre Tristan, tout imagination, conseilla une partie dans 
I'herbe, et, comme il clignait de ses yeux roux malins : — "Com- 
pris, dit le roi, tu n'es qu'un vaurien." 

Le lendeinain matin, sous le paradis bleu, gais et contents, 
mon doux petit Louis XI, Tristan TErmite et leurs foUes amantes, 
Simonne des Chines et Perrette du Tr&or. s'cn vinrent ta- 
quiner le goujon de Seine, aux pieds en roseaux de la Tour de 

Maitre Olivier, puceau, faisait le guet sur la berge, & longues 
enjambees froissant I'herbe. II bayait aux comeilles avec 
m^lancolie ; la chute de Buridan occupait son esprit. 

Simonne des Chatnes, Suae et coeur li6s au coeur et h I'&me 
de son rot bien-aim6, comme un lys d'eau penchant sur un 
vieux nenuphar, penchait, sur I'^paule rkpie de son amant, son 
cou de ncige, son front de lait, son petit nez de velours blanc ; 

at| Six French Poets 

^^^KtfUta temps, le gracieux roi Louis de France luid 
iMl \M Hticot. Alors, c'^tait avec un si grand charme qu'elle 
M nalnit un. dans une petite boite verte, c'^tait avec uo charme 
it traubluit qu'elle le pnSsentait au roi, tout fr^tillant, que 
Littll M M tenait plus de lui baiser I'oreille (non point k I'asti' 
C9t, m^ 4 Simonne des Chines), voire de lui chuchoter amour- 
vuwinont ces mots; "M'amie, vous assiterez aux Etats 

MAttro Olivier, puceau, faisait le guet sur la berge, k tongues 
MVJAiilbdM (roissant I'herbe. II bay ait aux comeiUes avec 
miUnoolH : ia chute de Buridan occupait son esprit. 

11 roKardalt, d'un teil inattentif, certain maftre Villon, fleur 
lie liorijc B'il en fflt, couratit dans les roseaux aprfe les Ubellules 
pt ijiii. parfoia. toumait des yeux pleins d'anarchie vers ces 
U)ur|{(<oiR pftchant li-bas, et leurs amies. M^tre Olivier, 
pucDnil, avait I'csprit ailleurs ... A peine vit-il, dans les ro- 
aeuiix, multre Villon se d^v6tir. A peine munnura-t-il, comme 
on murmure en rfive: "Sans doute, ce monsieur nu ne m'est 
pa« Inconnu." 

Et Tristan n'attrapait rien. Et le roi n'attrapait ri 
Uticots (ilaient, filaient . . . Et Francois Villon, prenant une 
pleine eau, soufflait aux poissons, tout en faisant la plancbe ; 
"Vivo la liberty I ne vous laissez pas prendre." 

— "Pais I cria le roi, ou je manque ce turbot 1" 

— "Un turbot, seigneur, est im poisson de mer . . . risqua 
tlmidement la tendre Simonne. J'en ai vendu, avec ma m&re. 

Paid Fort 285 

au grand oiarch^ Saint-Honor^, du temps de ma virginity." — 
"Un poisson de mer? . . . H6, c'est bien pour cela que je I'ai 
manqu^!" r^pondit le roi sans se d^concerter. 

— "Le temps pass6 ne revient pas," fredonnait Perrette en 
ajustant ses bas. — "Ouil la jeunesse n'a qu'un temps," en- 
tonna Tristan, avec conviction, Alore, la timide, la tendre 
Simonne roucoula sur un air encore peu connu: "Voici vingt 
ans que j'ai perdu ma mfire . . ." II n'en fallait pas plus, 
Tristan fondit en larmes, — tandis que le roi, tout en p&hant 
du vent, chantait k tue-tfite : " Non 1 mes amis, non, je ne veux 
rien fitre ! . . ." 

Et Tristan n'attrapait rien. Et le roi n'attrapait rien. Les 
asticots filaient, filaient ... Et les goujons spiritueis, battant 
des ouies, applaudissajeot. — ("Applaudissaient," sans doute, 
n'est qu'une image. Mais sait-on bien ce qui se passe dans 

Amt pieds en roseaux de la Tour de Nesle, les deux com- 
m^res, le roi et le bourreau chantaient, en chceur, comme des 
oiseaux. Et les goujons, autour des bouchons, vaJsaient, vat- 
saient agr^blement. 

Maltre Olivier, puceau, faisait le guet sur la bei^e . . . 

Soudain, Perrette poufFa de rire dans sa jupel Men doux 
petit Louis XI, levant sa ligne avec ardeur, venoit d'accrocher 
un martin -pficheur. — Tristan dit: "Un gagel" Simonne: 
Poisson voie ! et maltre Olivier s'arrfita, tout net, sur une en- 
jamb fe. 

286 Six French Poets 

— "Par m'ftme 1 je me serai tromp6, se dit Francois Villon 
nageant entre deux eaiuc. Au lieu d'un goujon pteher un otseau 
. , . Ce bourgeois n'est pas d^pourvu de lyrisme I " 

Et les goujoQS, autour des bouchons, valsaient, valsaient 


The theatre definitely abandoned, Fort turned to 
literature, and published a number of little books of 
verse, got up something like chap-books, very slim, 
and very unpretentious. The first one, Plusieurs 
Choses, appeared in 1894, followed the same year by 
two others. Premieres Lueurs sut la Colline, and 
Monnaie de Per. The next year came others, Pres- 
que les Doigts aux Clefs and II y a li des Cris. But 
it was not until 1896, that he started what may be 
considered as his life work in the publication, by the 
indefatigable Mercure de France, of the first volume 
of his Ballades Frangaises. It contained till the 
poems already published, with new ones added, and 
was a, large book of three hundred and fifty pages. 
Those three hundred and fifty pages tell the story 
of Fort's life, his enormous fecundity, his over- 
fecundity, I fear it must be admitted. Fort is like 
some kinds of fishes, who spawn an incredible num- 
ber of eggs, of which some, at least, are bound to 
survive. And in Fort's case, it is astonishing how 
many are perfect, and fashioned to resist all the 

Paul Fori 

accidents of time. Particularly is this true in these 
early volumes. 

All Fort's succeeding volumes have been Ballades 
Francises. No matter how various the subjects, 
he has given them all the same generic title. And 
it is an excellent title, and hitches them all together 
into the soul of France better than anything else 
could do. For this most English of French poets 
is at the same time the very embodiment of France. 
One of his critics (and to my mind at once the most 
sprightly and the most illuminating of the lot, and 
their names have been legion) says: "Paul Fort is 
a mask, and I know well what is underneath : it is 
the familiar demon of the soil of France. . . . In- 
trepid innovator and firm partisan of freedom, Paul 
Fort is nevertheless the most traditional of our poets. 
The demon of French soil, I have just said, lives in 
him. Disdainful of expected rhythms and domes- 
ticated sentiments, he has taken poetry again at its 
beginning, from the moment when it spouts out of 
the earth, when it is still hot and moving, full of 
dissolved salts and living germs. He has listened to 
the instinctive songs in which the soul of the race 
shivers; which are bom, so to speak, of themselves, 
each like the others, clumsy and sincere, with 
indistinct onomatop<Eias, with cadences balanced 
like peasant rounds danced in sabots, with rough 
and new words, impregnated by the fat earth. It 
is there, the raw, inexhaustible treasure, which 

Six French Poets 

germinates through the length of the centu 
epics and odes, in epigrams, in romances, in legends, 
in tales full of bonhomie and in fables full of roguish- 
ness. Th&ronld comes, and of this lyrism the Chan- 
son de Roland is made ; Rabelais comes, and of this 
spirit Pantagruel is composed. One can understand 
everything, say everything, sing or chatter in every 
fashion, when one is in France." 
^ Singing and chattering in every fashion — that is a 
paraphrase of Paul Fort. His Choix de Ballades 
Fran^aises, a modest litlJe tome of five hundred and 
sixty-nine pages into which he has condensed his 
. sixteen ample volumes, is divided under headings. 
These headings, invented by himself, will give a 
more comprehensive idea of the many kinds of his 
work than any arbitrary list which I could make 
would do. They are : Hymnes ; Chansons ; Lieds ; 
EUgies; Pohnes Antiques; Pohnes Marins; Odes 
ei Odelettes ; Romans ; Petites EpopSes ; Fantaisies 
d la Gauloise ; Complaintes et Dits ; Madrigaux et 
Romances ; Epigrammes d Moi-mhne. 

Now, I think it is time to speak of Fort's versifi- 
cation. That new and original versification which 
has caused so much commotion among the critics. 
That strange and baffling style to which Fort says 
he has sacrificed his books. 

It is very hard for an English reader not to smile 
at the earnestness and great length with which all 
Fort's commentators deal with the subject. We 


Paul Fori 


must constantly remind ourselves that French is 
an artificially-made language, and is hedged about 
with any number of set rules. In France, there is a 
right and a wrong in pronunciation, there is a correct 
construction of sentences, and, above all, there is 
an exact system of versification. 

We, in the English-speaking countries, are con- 
stantly bemoaning the fact of the absence of stand- 
ards, and the consequent decay of the language, A 
decay, let it be whispered, which has been loudly 
wailed over ever since the days of Chaucer. 
Whether we lose most or gain most by our freedom 
to talk and write as we please will probably always 
be a disputed question. Each system has its ad- 
vantages. In France, everybody can write at least 
correctly, everybody who makes a pretense of being 
educated, that is. In England, and even more in 
America, the language is open to the enrichment of 
interpolated words and forms. (The picturesque 
and vitalizing influence of American slang has 
hardly yet been noticed by students; some day we 
shall have monographs upon the subject.) The 
corresponding disadvantages of each system are, 
that although in England and America there is a 
flexible, strong, and excessively rich language to 
make use of, only a handful of writers have sufficient 
taste and training to manipulate it and bring out its 
possibilities. English is not really inferior to French 
at any point except in its paucity of rhymes, and 


Six French Poets 

occa^ionaliy in its lack of shaded meanings. But, 
as a rule, the sldll of English (and here I would in- 
clude American) »-riters is behind that of the French. 
On the other hand, the very clarity and precisioa 
of the French tongue makes it difficult for it to 
change with sufficient speed. Life, in France, is 
ahead of its official language. Hence the poet who 
attempts any innovation, no matter how ob^Hous 
the advantage of the change may be, has to fight a 
long series of battles before he is admitted to have 
proved his point. 

The vers libristes had hardly been accorded per- 
mission to exist, in the minds of the crowd, before 
Paul Fort appeared with a still greater innovation. 
Briefly it was this : — He alternated prose and verse 
at will, going from one to the other without any 
transition, sometimes changing from one to another 
in the same stanza. To make this possible, he 
printed his poems as prose, and the change into 
rhyme only became evident when the poem was 
read ; with the greater number of readers, un- 
doubtedly, this change was never noticed until the 
poem was read out loud. He never attempted to 
write vers libre, nor is he to be classed among the 
vers libristes. His verse is almost always the alex- 
andrine, pure and simple ; sometimes, however, his 
lines are of eight syllables or of ten. In very few 
cases has he departed from either strict prose or 
strict verse. Only, he says that he follows the col- 

Paul Fort 


loquiEiI pronunciation of the He de France, which 
means really Paris. In other words, he practically 
suppresses the mute e, after the fashion of conversa- 
tion, instead of counting it in the traditional manner 
of French verse (and often pronouncing it too, some- 
times drawing it out in the disagreeable mannerism 
of the Comidie FratiQaise). The only thing which I 
can compare this to in English, is the very bad and 
foolish tradition of singing English, in which "wind" 
is pronounced "winde," and "pretty" — "pritty," 
and the consonants, for some unknown reason, are 
blurred so that nothing is sharp. Even this is not 
quite the same thing, as the English singing habit 
has nothing to recommend it, whereas the French 
poetic tradition is at least based upon a bygone 

What seriously troubles Fort's critics is that he 
does not always suppress the mute e. In a Ccise 
where one cannot safely count out twelve feet, and 
be sure, by that, whether the p is to be suppressed 
or not, such uncertainty is very confusing. Again, 
to the English sense, this does not seem to matter. 
M. Louis Mandin, in his Etude sur les "Ballades 
Fran^aises" points out that "if our traditional 
prosody is based upon the rigid fixity of the num- 
ber of syllables, other idioms leave to many of their 
vocables the faculty of contracting or distending 
themselves according to the movement of the 
rhythm." And he cites as examples, our word 


Six French Poets 

"wandering," which may be either two or diree 
syllables to suit the metre; or again, "Heaven," 
which may be either one or two. 

Fort's mute e's are to be counted or not according 
to the flow of the verse when pronounced in the 
usual Parisian fashion. The only sensible way to 
read Fort's poems is to read them ahead as they are 
written. So done, they will at once fall into their 
natural rhythm, be it prose, be it verse. Fort has 
such an excellent sense of rhythm, of cadence, that 
you may safely trust him to bring out what he 
wishes in his poems ; only read him as he is written, 
he will do the rest. Here is a very little poem. It 
is one of the most beautiful that Fort has done, 
and one of the best known, it is also one of the very 
few that are written in lines. It is, as you see, in 
regular alexandrines : 

Cette fille, elle est morte, est morte dans ses amours. 

lis I'ont portfe en terre, en lerre au point du jour. 

lis I'ont couch^ toute seule, toute seule en ses atoms. 

Us I'ont couch^ tout« seule, toute seule en son cercueil. 

Us sont rev'mis galment, g^ment avec le jour. 

lis ont chants galment, galment : "Chacun son tour. 
"Cette fille, elle est inorte, est rnort* dans ses amours." 

lis sont allfe aux champs, 
jours . . . 

champs comme totis les 

Here is a stanza from another poem, Richard 
Cceur de Lion, which is quite uneven, the lines being 
ten, eleven, or twelve feet long, (Perhaps i should 
repeat here, what I think I mentioned in the first 
essay, that French being an unaccented language, 
they have not our variety of feet, all of which are 
based upon accent. In French prosody, a foot is a 
syllable, so that the alexandrine, which is a line of 
twelve feet, is simply a line containing twelve 

This is the uneven stanza : 

Non, me faut aimer, me faut trainer ma peine, picurer contre 
la peine ici, que voici, ou j'inscrivis son nom entre un hglean- 
th^me, et cet oeillet couleur de cceur. — Suis transi ! — Je vais 
herbonsant au clair de la lune, cherchant sous la mousse I'berbe 
qui rajeunit. 

For one who is not a Frenchman and therefore in 
love with the alexandrine, I think this last quota- 
tion far more interesting than regular verse. The 
unexpected popping up of the rhymes is pungent 
and delightful, and the assonances give a very rich 


Six French Poets 

f0kxA and are most satisfying. One cannot help 
viddng that Fort had gone farther into this irregular 
verse, but he has stuck very faithfully to his original 
plan, given in the preface to Le Roman de Louis XI : 
" I have sought a style which could pass, at the will 
of the emotion, from prose to verse and from verse 
to prose, rhythmic prose furnishing the trjmsition. 
The verse follows the natural elisions of the language. 
It is presented as prose, all difficulty of elision dis- 
appearing in this form . . . Prose, rhythmic prose, 
and verse, are only a single instrument, graduated," 
Paul Fort is not seeking a new verse form, and when 
he stumbles upon the possibility of one, as in the 
quotation I have just read, he passes it by as a mere 
accident of no importance. What he is seeking is 
to connect prose and verse more closely than they 
have ever been connected before, and that he has 
succeeded in doing in an extraordinarily satisfactory 

But here I am, fallen into the usual pit which 
betrays all Fort's commentators. I am devoting 
far too much space to the metrical side of his work. 
Let me scramble out as best I can by the ^d of this 
admirable quotation from M. Octave 661iard, the 
critic whom I cited above. "When one of the genii 
of free space," he says, "trembling and intoxicated 
with life, falls into the midst of our humanity, he 
begins by giving himself aJr, somereaulting over 
barriers, upsetting categories, throwing our poor 



Paul Fort 


symmetrical ideas arranged like ninepins, one on 
top of the other. He puts life where there was im- 
mobility and silence. We, careful busybodies. had 
pasted tags everywhere : This is a theatre and this 
is a novel. . . . This is verse. . . . This is prose. 
. . . Paul Fort unfastens the labels, plays unplay- 
able plays at his theatre, rhymes novels, puts prose 
into verse and verse into prose, vibrates to every 
wind, chatters like a brook, makes poetry of every- 
thing, and amuses himself like a god. . . . And 
suddenly all these volatile, wandering syllables 
unite themselves into the regular verses of an epic, 
as if, recreation time finished, the hour of hymn and 
prayer had rung." 

The first volume of Ballades FranQaises contained 
a little of everything. It was divided into six books 
as follows : Book I : The Sea. The Bells. The 
Fields. The Hamlet, Book H : The Seasons. 
Night. A Book of Love. The Fields. The Road 
to Atre. The Storm. Book HI : Orpheus Charm- 
ing the Animals. Endymion. Indian Bacchus, etc. 
Louis XI, Curious Man. Heavy Blows of the Door 
Knocker, The Birth of Coxcomb. Book IV : Mad- 
men and Clowns, Death and Satan. Peasants and 
Knights, Nobles and Kings. Book V : First Steps. 
There are Cries There. Book VI : The Young 
Ladies of my Dreams. The Friend without Sin. 

It seems as if in this first book. Fort had set out 
to cover everything in the universe. Let us begin 

396 Six French Poets 

with one of the simplest songs in the volume : 

Si toutes les fiUes du monde voulaienc s'dotmer la main, tout 
autour de la mer etles pomraient faire une ronde. 

Si tous Ics gars du monde voulaient bien €tr' marins, lis 
f'raient avec leurs barques un joli pont sur I'onde. 

Alois on pourrait faire une ronde autour du monde, si tous les 
gens du monde voulaient s'donner la main. 

Here is another, describing a peasant wedding, 
with the refrain of the traditional Chanson Populaire : 

Ah 1 que de joie, la flflte et la musette troublent nos coeurs 
de leurs accords charmants, void venir les gars et les fillettes, et 
tous les vieux au son des instruments. 

Gai, gai, marions-nous, les rubans et les cornettes, gai, gai, 
marions-nous, et ce }oIi couple, itou I 

Que de plaisir quand dans I'^glise en Kte, cloche et clochettes 
les appellent tertous, — trois cents clochettes pour les yetix de 
la belle, un gros bourdon pour le cceur de I'c'poux. 

Gm, gai, marions-nous, les rubans et les comettes, gai, gai, 
i-nous, et ce joil couple, itou 1 

La cloche enGn tient uos langues muettes. Ah ! que de 
peine quond ce n'est plus pour nous . . . PLeurez, les vieux, sur 
vos Uvres de messe. Qui s^t ? bientAt U cloche sera pour vous ? 

Gai, gai, marions-nous, les rubans et les coraettes, gai, gai, 
marions-nous, et ce joli couple, itou ! 

Enfin c'est tout, et la cloche est muette. Allons danser au 
bonheur des dpoux. Vive le gars et la fiUe et la ftte ! Ah I que 
de joie quand ce n'est pas pour nous. 

Gai, gai, marions-nous, les rubans et les coraettes, gai, gai, 
marions-nous, et ce joli couple, itou ! 

Que de platsir, la flUte et la musette vont rajeunir les vieux 
pour un moment. Voici danser les gars et les fillettes. Ah ! 
que de joie au son des iastniments ! 

It is amusing to note that this is one of the Ballades 
des Cloches. 

■Robert de Souza in his PoSsie Populaire says: 
"Rondes et pastourelles, aubades, romances et guil- 
lon^es, berceuses et brunettes, ballades narratives, 
complaintes d'amour, chansons de fites et de metiers, 
qwerziou et soniou bretons, Heds ou saltarelles, il 
semble qu'aucun des modes lyriques populaires ne 
soit absent du livre de M. Fort." And he quotes 
this Breton song with its fantastic refrain : 

298 Six French Poets 


£t you, yovL, 3roa, c'est le pficfaeur qui meurt, et you, yoa, ya, 
et toute la mer dessus. 

Et you, 3rou, you, c'est la bergto qui pleure, et you, you, ya, 
c'est Tamour qui s'en va. 

Et you, you, you, c'est-y la mer qui b£Ie, et 3rou, yoiiy yoOf 
ou c'est-y les moutons? 

Et you, you, 3rou, les plaisirs sont au del, et you, you, yoo, 
les nauges par-dessous. 

But Paul Fort has other peasant songs. Songs 
with overtones of sadness : 

Au premier sondes cloches: "C'estJ^susdanssacrdche . . . 


Les cloches ont redouble : ''O gu6, men fianc6 1 " 

Et puis c'est tout de suite la cloche des tr6pass6s. 

Songs tinged with a gay irony : 


Du temps qu'on allait encore au baleines, si loin qu'ga fai- 
sait, matlot, pleurer nos belles, y avait sur chaque route un 

J&us en croix, y avait des marquis couverts de dentelles, y 
avait la Sainte-Vierge et y avait le Roi ! 

Du temps qu'on allait encore aiut baleines, si loin qu'ga 
faisait, matlot, pleiirer nos belles, y avait des marins qui avai- 
ent la foi, et des grands seigneurs qui crachaient sur elle, y avait 
la Sainte-Vierge et y avait le Roi ! 

Eh bien, k pr&ent, tout le monde est content, c'est pas pour 
dire, mat'lot, mais on est content I ... y a plus d' grands sei- 
gneurs ni d'J&us qui tiennent, y a la r^publique et y a I'prfai- 
dent, et y a plus d'baleines ! 

All the poems which 1 have quoted, with the excep- 
tion of Les Baleines and La Vie, are from this first 
volume, and Fort has never done anything better 
in this Hne. I cannot leave it without quoting one 
more, from the section " Madmen and Clowns." 
It is irony, pure and simple, keen and flickering, 
like a sword-blade : 


— Synthetic Clown-Clown, hip, hip, tournez 1 

— Six pirouettes bleu blanc blanc bleu, voili le Ciell six 
pirouettes bleu vert vert bleu, voiia la Mer ! six pirouettes vert 
jaune jaune vert, c'est le D^rt I six pirouettes or jaune jaune 
or, c'est le Soleil I 

- Bravo, bravo, un p'tit bravo. 

Analytic Clown- 

Six French Poets 

Clown, h vous, tournez 1 

Soit. Messieurs, d&omposons, suJvez-moi bien: 
deux pirouettes, Indigo, trois pirouettes, Bleu, cinq pirouettes, 
Vert, deun pirouettes, Jaune, trois pirouettes, OrangS, dnq 
pirouettes, Rouge, dix pirouettes. Total: trente pirouettes. 
Attention, Messieurs! guignez Tare de No^ . . , Deux trois 
dnq, deux trois cinq dix, r 

— Cessez, Analytic, cessez, assez! II va se rompre . . 
Dieu! ... Ahl 

Synthetic se tord, puis dans la sciure du cirque inscrit d'u 
doigt profond cette sombre ^pitaphe : 



ce clown qu'on disait sage 

— trfe f ol 

et mort de rage 

de n'avoir pu toumer dans un orage. 

The next volume of Ballades Francises was caffet 
Montagne, ForSt, Plaine, Mer, and was published in 
/1898. Fort has as great a love for scenery as 
/ Francis Jammes, again and again he delights him- 
self with describing it. Only, unlike Jammes, he 
loves to paint towns as well as countrysides. He 
notices all the changes of light and shadow, all the 
effects of trees, and houses, and steeples, and always 

Paul Fort 


with that intoxication of delight. Nature strikes 
him and sets him singing. "Tout mon corps," he 
cries, "est poreux au vent fraJs du printemps. Par- 
tout je m'infinise et partout suis content." Spring 
fills him with an almost uproarious happiness: "Ren- 
dez-vous des Muguets ! rendez-vous des coucous ! et 
de toutes les fleurs dont les prairies abondent, au son 
de la trompette k Ph6bus. Rendez-vous d'abeillcs 
et d'oiseaux ! Un empire se fonde." 

Here is the little town of Senlis in the morning 


Je SOTS. La ville a-t-elle disparu ce matin? Oii s'est-elle 

envois? Par quel vent, dans quelle tie? Je la retrouve, mais 

n'ose plus ^tendre les mains, Senlis est vaporeuse comme une 

Moi, d&hirer Senlis? prenons garde. Oil est-elle? Toits et 
muis sont un transparent r&eau de brume. Notre-Dame livre 
& I'air sa gorge de dentelle, son cou si fin, son sein 16ger couleur 

ou bat ITieure irr&lle, que seuls comptent les anges, tant 
r&ho s'en ^touffe dans I'oreiller du del fait des plumes douce- 
ment ^tendues de leurs ailes, o^ Dieu repose un front qui vers 
Senlis se penche. 

This is a curious paysage, considered in the light 
of recent events ; it appeared in 1909, in his tenth 

303 Six French Poets 



Du c6t6 de Paris, mais vers Nemours la blanche, im \ 
VT-euil ce matin a chant 6 dans les branches. 

Du c6t6 d'Orl&ns, vers Nemours envois, au cceur du jour 
I'alouette a chants sur les hl6s. 

Du c6t6 de la Flandre, au cr^uscule d'or, loin de Nemouis 
la pie a cach6 son tri^r. 

Le soir, criant vers Test, I'AUemagne et la Russie, la troupe 
des corbeaux quitta ce pays-ci. 

Mais dans mon beau jardin par Nemours abrit6, toute la 
nuit d'^toUes, Philom^e a chants I 

The third volume of the Ballades, Le Roman de 
Louis XI, came out also in 1898, On the fly-leaf. 
Fort has put: "I have wanted to write a book of 
'good humour.' 1 call it 'The Novel of Louis XI,' 
which means that I do not pretend to the exacti- 
tude of a severe historian." 

What can one say of such a book as Louis XI? 
It is one of Fort's most original and amusing works. 
The picture of the King, with his hat bordered by 
medals and images, occupied with his prayers, and 
suddenly stooping to pick a chestnut or two out of 
the fire, is inimitable. We see him dictating to his 

Paul Fort 


barber "certaines petites lois." We see him fish- 
ing, as in the passage I quoted a little while ago. 
We see him riding "along the white road whistling 
with larks, by the side of the thorn hedges covered 
with linen hung out to dry." We see hira sleeping 
peacefully on his horse, "entends-tu le coucou, ma- 
lurette ? — Non, je dors." We see him at the siege 
of Beauvais. And truly this same siege of Beauvais 
is one of the most astounding things in all literature. 
This account of the things the besieged threw down 
upon the besiegers, and the noise they made in fall- 
ing, out-Marinettis Marinetti on his own ground : 

Et lorsqu'avec ses gens i! grimpaJt k I'fchelle, que leur jetait- 
on, dites-moi ? — des poulcts ? non pas, — des radis ? du beurre ? 
vous fites dans Terreur, — des agneaiix? des boeufs? plus 
souvent ! — des fraises k la crdme ? des melons ? des salsifis ? 
S I vous vous moquez ! — On leur jetait du plomb fondu dans 
les prunelles; sur le nez, sous le nez des torches enflammfes 
(comme roses ^closes, bonnes k humer) ; et par tout le corps un 
joyeux peie-mfile de meubles, de pav6s, d'ardoises, de boulets, 
de crachats, d'os rong^, d'ordures varices, de petits clous, de 
grands clous, d'enclumcs, de marteaux, de casseroles, dc plots, 
de papinettes en fer, d'assiettcs, de fourchettes, de ponies, de 
cuillers, d'encre, de graisse et d'huile bouillantes, que sais-je? 
de tombeaux, de margelles, de cloisons, de gouttifires, de toits, 
de clochers, de cloches, de clochettes qui tinttnnabulaient gra- 
cieusement sur les tfites. 

Que leur jetait-on encore pour ne point mentir ? 

Ah 1 Maints objets moult contondants, tranchants, aS&tis, 


Six French Poets 

aM6s, en boule, en douille, grenus, comus, en soie, ensoc, detene, 
de t6!e, de pierre de taille, de fer, d'acier, arqufe, h^riss^s, tordus, 
confus, tout mal fichus, moussus, rouilli^s, erailles, en laniSres, 
en coins, en creia, en crible, en croix, en eric, en croc, sonaants, 
crissants, sifilaats et ronflants, faisant humph, ouf, louf, pouf, 
bring, sring, tringle, balaam, bottom, betting, batar, arara, rara- 
boum, bul, bul, breloc, relic, relaps, mil, bomb, marl, broug, batad, 
mirobol, pic, poc, quett, strict, pac, diex, mec, pett, sec, sic, 
BOif I flic, faim, brie, broc, brr rr rr . . ., quienfongaient lescrSnes, 
^largissaient les nez, tricotaient les oreilles, ^carquillaient les 
bouches, faisaient voler les dents, les doigts, les coudes, les bras, 
les mentons, les pommettes, mariaient les yeux, en dedaignaient 
Tomelette, desossaient les ^paules, abmtissaient le thorax, dS- 
courageaient les cosurs, mettaient I'intrus au ventre, scrutaient 
une fesse puis I'autre, en tiraient faux boyaux, de cuisses cuis- 
settes, de rotules btUes et developpaient les pieds ou coupaient 
I'homme en cinq, six, sept, voire. 

Oui-da, encore, que leur jetait-on ? 

Des eadavres, des injures, des merdailles et des flScbes? 

Bien mieuxl (frissonez avec moi) — ^des maisons. Et peu 
s'en fallut que, par-dessus la ville, on ne leur jetat la ville 


Here I must skip over four volumes and quote 
what I believe to be Fort's masterpiece. It is in 
the same genre as Louis XI, but where one is diffused 
throughout a long novel, the other is condensed into 
eight pages. Eight pages in which is contained the 
whole Middle Ages. I give the poem entire. 


Les rideaux des croisfe sont clos. Les meubles donnent. 
Parfois le lit royal pousse un long gemissemetit. C'est le bois 
qui se plaint, c'est I'Sme du vieus chSoe, Ecoutez, . . . Aussi 
bien, cela g^mit k peine. Ecoutez. L'Mre obscur se raaiine et 
frissonne. Trois petites flammes bleues dajisent sur le foyer, 
jetant de grands adieus aux muis fleurdelis&. 


L'obscunt6 cbasse les quatre murs. 

Aussitdt, un ^lat du foyer les ramdne. Le lit tout grelottant 
pousse una plainte humoine ; et Philippe de Valois se d^tache 
d'un mur. Vite il ouvra un bahut, s'y plonge et le refenne. 

Louis XI pT&:autioimeux se glisse en chattemite; sur son 
chaperon noir toume une souris blanche ; et void, I'^cusson de 
Bretagne k la raanche, se d^vorant des yeux, Louis XII et Charles 
VIII, lis ouvrent le bahut, s'y plocgent et le referment. 

Le gamin Francis II dans I'&tre va vomir. Le lit, soulevant 
ses draps, semble un fantflme en peine. Que les r6gnes sont 
courts dans la chantbre des rois 1 Avez-vous vu b&iller le grand 
coff re de bois ? 

Pius rien. L'obscuriti; chasse les quatre murs. 

Aussitflt, un 6clat du foyer les ramtae, et devant Henri II 
boite Francois I". lis songent, le front bas, k Diane de Poi- 
tiers, puis s'abiment ensemble et ferment le couvercle. 


Six French Poets 

C'est Charles V qui le relive de son sceptre, et le Rot-Sage 
est rouge d'un reflet de b&cher. II saute. Est-ce que la pourpre 
emptehe de sauterP II roule dans sa pourpre et jette le ba- 
ton. La main de justice vole de serrure en serrure (eric 1 crac I) 
tournant les clefs. 



I le Bon. 

Vofltfi, couvert de chines mfilodieuses et tristes, il a mau- 
vais sourire et les yeux bleus du Christ. Le dement Charies 
VI le flagelle en cadence, du morion aux pattes, avec des lys de 
France, et Charles VII, I'ivrogne, ramassant lesp^tales, baissela 
trogne. Mais il titube. II a trop bu. Trois chutes s^pulcrales 
font sooner le bahut. 

Les rois valois sont en rumeur. Le lit tressaille. Les onze 
rois valois en appellent un autre. 1^, et dans tes miroirs, voyez, 
le coffre b^lie. La Mort s'exerce-t-elle h des metamorphoses? 
A chaque batUemeot des comes de Satyres soulSvent le couvercle 
et vit« se retirent. 

Puis grand silence. . . . 

Enfin, sortant de la pSnombre, un blanc visage monte commo 
la lune monte. Et le lit voit passer Charles IX aux yeux notrs. 
Houp ! le bahut I'aspire et tout s'6vanouit. Une souris grignote 
au fond de I'infini. 

Paul Fort 307 


Les rideaux des crois^es sont clos. Les meubles dorment. 
Parfois le lit royal pousse tin long g^missement. C'est le bois 
qui se plaint, c'est T^me du vieux ch^ne ou, peut-6tre, aux flam- 
beaux, verrait-on 1^ un homme ? . . . £t tenez ! T&tre obscur 
se ranime et f rissonne ; trois petites flammes bleues allongent 
leurs reflets qui fauchent la moisson des mtirs fleurdelis6s. Le 
plafond s'en Claire et paratt s'exhausser; le lit, rest6 dans 
Tombre, s'abfmer sous son ddme. 

La chambre od tout vacille est en proie aux fantdmes. 

Une lueur demi^ frappe siu* le bahut la ronde qtii s'^happe 
de son goufiEre entr'ouvert. 

Une luetu" vivante frappe aux flancs du bahut la ronde qui 
toumoie sur son bois en rumeur. 

Le reflet des miroirs isole et fait saillir la ronde aux bonds 
lascifs de douze grands Satyres, entourant de leurs membres un 
bouc ^pouvant^, — tandis qu'en ces miroirs, trente fois r6p6t6y 
un Hercule de bronze fait toumoyer sa masse. 

II a du B6amais le sourire en grimace. Lui vraiment I Tout 

L'ombre est chaude. Un cri couve. . . . 

En silence, au galop, pouss6 par la temp^te silencieuse des 
Temps et des Temps et des Temps, en silence, au galop de son 
cheval de fer, Charlemagne traverse la salle d'un coup bref. 

308. Six French Poets 

Henri de Guise le suit sur son haut cheval noir, mais ayant^tl 
fausse route se perd dans un miroir. Et puis voici Catherine, 
sa grande et belle figure — horrible h voir 1 

C'est aloTS qu'Henri tire, de sa stupeur, un cri conune il en , 
vient la nuit du fond des plaines, ce cri des solitudes qui s'enfle 
et passe et tratne, decourageant la vie au cceur du voyageur ; et 
c'est I'instant oii, pris dans I'^toffe agitiie, le fer d'une hallebarde 
BoulSve k la croisfe que I'occident allume, un rideau qui s'all^e. 

Au ddiors le jour tombe, rose, avec de la neige. 


Le roi, vCtu de noir, a saut6 hors du lit et va dans les miroirs 
interroger sa face, recule i S3 pAleur, et tout tremblant se coifEe. 
Alors, son chapeau noir isole sa pMeur. "Viendras-tu r^veiller 
un sang stup^fifi (dit-il), fl toi, liqueurl ..." A ses pieds la 
coupe tombe. Ouvrant doucement la porte, il fcoute t'anti- 
chambre, tout allumte d'^p^ et pleine de diquetia. 

Les gants. La canne d'^bbie. Et le voili parti. 

"Le roi. Messieurs. Le roil" — Une hallebarde sonne. 
Voix, chuchotis, bruits de chaises. La lueur crdpusculaire 
souligne en p^tillant les solives dor&s. L'antichambre est con- 
fuse, pleine d'ombres vassales, pench^ vers un couloir o^ 
a'avance un point blanc. 

L4-bas, le lit royal est blotti sous son dflme, tout au bout d'lm 
couloir oii s'avance un point blanc. 

Paul Fort 309 

"Le roi 1" — Deuxi^e echo. — Une hallebarde sonne. 

Quelle blancheur ovale, k hauteur de visage, remue deux 
perles longues comme la lune en pleurerait? Visage et perles 
longues, Henri III apparatt. Et les ombres vassales, toutes les 
ombres se courbent. 

Un vol de f euilles mortes est-il ici tomb6 ? . . . 

— "Toi qui risques im oeil, regarde: le cr^puscule souligne- 
t-il encore les solives dor6es ? 

— Oui, mais le roi ? 

— Le roi, mon fils ? . . . II est pass^. 

— Qu61us, mon bon ami, cela tient du prodige. 

— Maugiron, Saint-M^grin, ^coutez la merveille : ce soir 
rOmbre du roi dans le palais voltige, masqu^ de clair de Itme 
et deux larmes aux oreilles. 

— Va-t-elle retrouver Catherine en ses nuages? EUe monte 

— C'est au second 6tage ! 


Une hallebarde sonne. Voix, chuchotis, bruits de chaises. 
Au dehors le jotu' tombe, rose, avec de la neige. 


Qependant que le roi court dans Tescalier vide, Chicot sur- 
vient bergant sa lanteme allum6e : on entotu'e le Pou qtii ricane 
et s'esqtiive, et reparait, haussant et ber^ant sa lanteme, ainsi 
qu'tm encensoir, au bas de Tescalier. 

Six French Poets 

"Continues, Messieui^, je cherche un roi," dit-il. 

L'antichonibre est obscure avec de grands coins piles, oix djjit 
les flambeaux s'allument sous des mains. L'un d'eux jette 
une Aamme de neige et de carmin. Vite les mains s'^cartent. — 
On voit toute la salle. — L^gSres, au bout des bras les ^p6es s'in- 
cendient et, se liant par deux, peuplent I'air d'^tincelles: quel- 
ques lames fredonnent, d'autres sont en cliquetis, et des ombres 
de torses font bouger les murailles, et les pieds des Mignons 
frou-froutent sur les dalles. 

— "Chicot, s'6crie Qu^lus, I'Ombre du roi voltige. Que 
fais-tu 14, Chicot? Veux-tu bien voltiger? Aim^ de ta chan- 
delle, tu la verras monter. 

— Mais non, je vois descendre. 

— Qui done? 

— Henri de Guise. 

— Diable! il est en Espagne ... {A vous. Monsieur, 

— Pardon, mon cher seigneur, il descend I'escalier. 

— Chicot, prends garde k toi! . . . C'est parbleu vrai. 

Les €p€es retombent sur les dalles. 

Cependant que le roi court dans I'escalier vide, seul, jusque 
chez sa m6re Catherine en ses nufies, et ne sent pas gUsseV la 
cuirasse limpide de monseigneur de Guise qui se range au palier, 
Le due est bien en chair pourtant. Son cceur bat fort. Mais 

Paul Fort 311 

non pas jusqu'^ faire tinter le froid m6tal que monseigneur 
ddrobe, du chapeau, en saluant. 

Tout au bas rescalier flamboie. Le due descend. II de- 
scend marche k marche comme un discret fant6me. On se 
presse, on le voit. Le due revient d'Bspagne comme un dis- 
cret f antdme — et mfime il en revient par la chambre k coucher 
de la reine ! 

— "Incroyable," dit Maugiron. 

— "Ce Guise est fort," dit Saint-M^grin. 

— "Place k monseigneur-duc I " 

La cuirasse limpide entratne les ^6e8. Tout s'dcoule. 
Tout s*6teint. 

Henri III, cependant, mi-couch6 sur la rampe, du haut de 
Tescalier a tout vu cette fois. II tire de son cou un sanglot de 
colombe, puis se relive. 

Un mur s'entr'ouvre pour le roi. 

Id, rien qu'une lampe ^airant une main. 

Tout, sinon cette lampe et sauf le parchemin, oti cette main 
potel6e, vieillotte, amidonnde, guide la plume d'oie ou cherche 
Tencrier, ici tout est dans I'ombre. La main, par aventure, 

313 Six French Poets 

disparaissant tin peu, laisse de I'^criture. Alois, voki ce c 

la flamme poiurait lire, qui sur les caractfres se lord comme une 1 


"A Madaine ma fille, la Reine calkolique, 

" Ma fiUe aimle, ma mie, ma doctU IsaheUe, j'ai bien refu de I 
vos nouvelies d'Espagne. Monsieur de Guise me les apporia, 
Cerlest U Jerait beau voir tons ces michants hfrltiques briilatU e» 
une seule lorche {ainsi en France comme vous faites Id-bas). HSas! 
mignonne, ici rien ne se peut. Ce n'esi ches nous que perversion; 
et douleuTS pour voire bonne mire. Vous savet les afflictions gu'il 
platt au ciel de m'envoyer et qui sont des plus grandes qu'il envoya 
jamais i personne. Brtiler les kiritiques! Ah! out, beau bou- 
quet de fiammes, cerlesl grand feu de joie et qui platrail d Dieu. 
Mats quoi, fiUetle, en France rien ne se peut. Tout teste id 
* dans I'ombre, mime I'Omhre royale. . . ." 

A I'ombre d'lm visage pend une Ifivre blanche. Sous un 
bonnet de tulle noir un front se penche, battu de rides mouvantes 
comme un clocher d'oiseaux, et plus ce front se penche et plus 
il parait haut. L'ceil mouill6 de Catherine s'argente. La 
courbe dure et fine du long nez italien se profile, que tire, ainsi 
qu'un arc, le pli de la narine. 

C'est I'instant oii Catherine, boudeuse et padfique, biffe d 
trait de plume sa phrase impoUtique. 

Or un autre visage s'est lev^ dans la salle. Derrifa* elle 
Catherine sent vivre une pSleur. EUe a cess6 d'fcrire en &ou- 
tant son cceur. Deux petites mains gant6es lui tombent aux 

Paul Fort 313 

^patdes, comme detix chauves-souris t\x6es d'un mfime coup de 
gatde. £t Tune des petites mains roulant jtisqu'^ son coeur, 
vient s*y crisper. . . . 

AlorSy du bout de sa plume d'oie, Catherine, pensivement, 
doucement, la caresse. £t tous deux songent et llieure est 
pleine de paresse. 

LsL main se ddraidit, tremblante. . . . Par un doigt I void 
le parchemin d6sign6 par un doigt I " Tout teste id dans Vombre^ 
mime VOmbre royale" 

Deux mains saisissent le cou de Catherine, et la reine levant 
son front terrible vient de crier : "Mon roi I " — Un cri bref du 
parquet r6v^e une ftiite soudaine, et bient6t Henri III descend 
Tescalier vide. 


n franchit I'antichambre obsctu^ et ddsertde, se jette contre 
un mur les deux bras 6cart6s et cherche le couloir tout le long 
du mur vide. 

Plus rien : du vide. 

Le roi chancelle; il court, chancelle; il court jusqu'^ sa 
porte ouverte et veut passer, mais s'arr^te, le poing sur la gorge 
et livide, devant une hallebarde somnolente et berc^. 

Henri saisit la jambe du garde qu'il reveille, car — 6 stupeur ! 
— derri^ la garde qu*il reveille, 1^1 dans son litl . . . quel- 
qu'un, quelqu'un ou quelque chose, de semblable k lui-m£me (et 

314 Six French Poets 

peut-fitre lui-mSme), de noir et blanc, un horame, us roi ou qud- 
que chose, un roi peut-€tre? Charles IX ou Frangois? un fau- 
tdme couch£ dort du sommeil des morts. 

— "Gardel AUons.toil Qui done est chezle roi de Prance? 
A qui cette paieur? Ces loques stmt ^ moil Suis-je sortt, 
voyons, ou bien est-ce moi, Ik? Quelle est cette chose?" — ■ 
"H^lasI" dit ITiomme dans les transes, "hSlasI mon dier 
seigneur, mais je . . . je ne sais pas." 

— "Silence," dit one voix. Une voix dit: "Silence. , . ." 
Le roi tremble accroupi comme une grenouille au froid, et la 
hallebarde tombe et le garde se sauve. 

— "Ce n'est rien, mon doux sire, c'est Chicot qui repose." 
Bt Chicot d^guerpit en entratnant un drap. 


Minuit Sonne k Saint-Gennain-rAuxerrois. 

If I were asked to pick out which was the finest 
poem of all those written by the men we have been 
studying, I should unhesitatingly pick out that. 
To understand it thoroughly one must, of course, 
know one's French history. The poem is saturated 
with historical allusions ; every little happening has 
its meaning. I have no space here to unravel all 

Paid Fort 


these suggestions, they can easily be followed by any 
one conversant with history, and may serve as a 
starting point for inquiry to any one who is not. 
The whole poem is so impregnated with the super- 
natural, so full of foreboding, that the real and the 
imagined blend, until one hardly knows what is 
fact, what reminiscence, and what presentiment. 

Briefly, the story is of the secret return of the 
Due de Guise to Paris, egged on thereto by Philip 
II of Spain, His return, you will remember, was 
followed by the "Day of the Barricades" in which 
Henri III was besieged in his own palace by the 
population of Paris. With his escap* to Chartres, 
and the subsequent events of his reign, the poem 
does not deal. 

Henri III is a series of scenes, and nothing is lack- 
ing, no little touch, to give the character of Henri, 
of Catherine, of the Due de Guise. All the King's 
effeminacy is in the pale face and long pearls which 
his mignons see advancing down the corridor. How 
excellent in its vacillating impotence is his scene 
with Catherine, when he puts up his hand to strangle 
her, but "un cri bref du parquet r^v^le une fuite 
soudaine" and the King flees down the staircase! 
Then the finding of the fool in his bed and fearing 
for a moment that it is himself, that he is a ghost 
— he or that other ; then, when the fool has been 
roused and routed, the sudden striking of midnight 
from the belfry of Saint-Germain-l'Auxerrois, the 


5m: French Pods 

hour and the dock which had ushered in the Mas- 
sacre of Saint Bartholomew. It is breathless, this 
end, worked up as it has been by one stroke after 
another, all through the poem. 

But, to go back a moment to the beginnini^, notice 
how the tone is given by the first lines : " Les 
rideaux des crois^es sont dos, Les meubles dor- 
ment;" and, a little farther on, "Trois pedtes 
flammes bleues dansent sur le foyer. , . . Pius 
rien. L'obscurite chasse les quatre murs." In this 
weird darkness, pierced every now and then by a 
spurt from the dying fire, the long procession of 
French Kings passes through the room and plunges 
into the great oak chest. They come, and come, 
some of them on horseback "pousse par la temp&te 
silendeuse des Temps et des Temps et des Temps." 
in which the words fall like the hoof-beats of a 
galloping horse — until Henri III wakes with a cry to 
the twilight "rose, avec de la neige." It is sketched 
in with a word, that cold twilight. He enters the ante- 
chamber "all lit up with swords, and full of clash- 
ings," then — "Une hallebarde sonne," and we hear 
the butt of it ringing on the stone pavement as the 
guard comes to attention. But the poem is here, 
why point out what can escape no one. 

After Louis XI came Les Idylles Antiques and 
L' Amour Marin, both in 1900. Fort is very charm- 
ing in his Idylls, His antiquity is neither old nor 
new. It is neither conventional nor pastiche, it is 
just Nature, if I may so express it. Nature mas- 

querading as Pan for the sake of convenience. One 
short quotation must suffice us here : 


(Vision de Berger) 

lo ! i'ai reconnu Pan h sa libre panire, k ses polls I 11 sautait 

dans ]e soleil, cueillant d'un geste ais6, parfois, uae cerise aux 

arbres vermeils. Qu'il fitait pur 1 Des gouttes d'eau perlalent 

sur sa lisse toison cDnune des ^toiles : on l'e<lt dit d'ai^ent. 

Et c'^tait sous I'azur de mon jeune printemps. 

Or, ayant avis6 dans I'fur une cerise plus grosse et plus belle, 
il la saisit, et puisa le noyau sous la pulpe sanglante. Jem'ap- 
prochai. J'^tais ravi . . . Lui m'ayant vis^ I'cei!, je re^us le 
noyau. J'allais tuer Pan de mon couteau I II ^tendlt un bras, 
fit line volte, et tout le Monde touma. 

Adorons Pan, le dieu du Monde ! 

Fort is excellent in his sailor poems. In them one 
can smell the salt wind, and hear the waves lapping 
on the beach. L' Amour Marin is probably the most 
successful of them, but as it is a very long poem in 
dialect I will give instead Les Baisers. 


En se quittant, on n's'est rien dit. Et nous avons cm que 
I'on ne s'aimait gu^. Pendant qu'on s'quittait, on s'est tu 
bien longtemps. C'6tait, comme on dit, comme de I'indifEerence. 

3i8 Six Prauk Poets 

£t : ooq joon. Haac ob s'^tsit (fit : (a a'cfare pas )oog ba agt^ 
doq jcxm de fansBS, c'est oaane le ban tn^K. 

Aajotadlioi mer Ueotfe et ■***«'^ c'est roragc Y n'^nt 
pas trap n^^wiMmA^r ^ I ajDour, Ei puis, Ics "^*^''*^, vo3''gs-v(ms, 
ga Toyage. Do batean baise le saUe. . . . Que ks Uiiwiii 
not courts * 

And now we come to one of the most enchanting 
of all Fort's books. Paris Sentimental ou le Roman 
de Nos Vingt Ans. It is as full of youth as Henri 
III was full of history. It is bubbling over with 
addescence. One poem in it I must print here : 

(Square Mooge) 
Ivresse du prmtemps I et le gazon toume autour de la statue 
dc Voltaire. — Ah ! VTaiment, c'est d'un beau vert, c'est trfs 
joli, le square Monge : herbe verte, grille et bancs verts, gardien 
vert, c'est, quand j'y songe, un beau coin de I'umveis. — Ivresse 
du priatemps I et le gazon toume autour de la statue de Voltaire. 

Et c'est plain d'oiseaux dans les arbres pMes, oil le del ouvre 
ses fleurs bleues. — Les pigeons s'aiment d'amour tendre. Les 
moineaux remuent leur queue. J 'attends. ... Oh I je suis 
heureux, dans ce dclice de I'attendre. Je suis gai, fou, amour- 
eux ! — et c'est plein d'oiseaux dans les arbres p41es, ofi le del 
ouvre sefl fleurs bleues. 


Je monte sur les bancs couleurs d'esp^rance, ou bien je fais 
de I'dquilibre . . . sur les arceaux du parterre, devant la statue 
de Voltaire. Vive tout ! vive moi ! vive la France ! II n'est 
rien que je n'espfire. J'ai les ailes de I'esp^rance. — Je monte 
sur les bancs pour quitter la terre, ou bien je fais de I'^quilibre. 

Elle a dit; une heure; il n'est que midi! Aux amoureux 
I'heure est brSve. — L'oiseau chante, le soleil rfive. Chaque 
fois qu'Adam rencontre Eve, il !eur faut un paradis. Derrifire 
la grille, au soleil, I'onmibus y pense engourdi. — Elle a dit : une 
heure ; il n'est que midi ! Aux amoureux I'heure est brfive. 

Devant la statue, un chat blanc, un jaune, — et le jaune, c'est 
une chatte ! — roulent, s'Sboulent sur le gaaon chaud, se montrent 
les pattes, miaulent, se battcnt. Le soleil 6tWe doucement ton 
sourire, 6 mon doux Voltaire, 6 bon faune. — Devant ta statue, un 
chat blanc, iin jaune, roulent, s'6boulent, se montrent les pattes. 

Les arbres s'enieuillent au chant des oiseaux. Le bourgeon 
de mon cceur folate ! — Et je vacille rien qu'i voir les diamants 
de I'arrosoir envelopper I'herbe d'une bruine. Un arc-en-ciei 
part de I'^chine du philosophe, et va trembler dans les branches 
d'un marronnier. — Les arbres s'enfeuillent au chant des oiseaux. 
Le bourgeon de mon cceur delate ! 

L'azur est en feu : un chien flaire un chien sous le banc oft 
dort le gardien. — Une petite fiUe saute k la corde, et sur son 
ombre, et d'autres et d'autres. Je vois teurs ombres, sur I'all^, 
ou sYlargir ou s'afEner. Et tout 5a chante 4 qui mieux mieux : 
"Au petit feu! au grand feul c'est pour folairer le bon Dieul" 

320 Six French Poets 

— L'azur est en feu : un chien flaire un chien, sous le banc oil 
dort le gardien. 

Void le marchand de coco musical, charg£ de ses robinets 
d'or. — Ses robinets sont des serpents, d'ofl gicle son coco sonore 
flitn " les timbales des enfants. Rafratchissons notre luxure : 
vite ! pour un sou de ta mixture, Laocoon ^tincelant. Je bois k 
toute la Nature, je bois k ton bronze bouillant, toi qui souris de 
I'aventure, fl vieux Voltaire, 6 doux m^chant. — Void le mar- 
chand de coco musical. Ses robinets sont des serpents. 

Ah ! printemps, quel feu monte de ta terre ! quel feu descend 
du del, printemps! — Devant la statue de Voltaire, j'attends 
ma nouvelle Manoa. Et cependant qu'elle tarde, Voltaire, 
assis, est patient : je regarde ce qu'il regarde, une paquerette dans 
le gazon. J'attends. — J'attends, 6 dell j'attends, 6 terre I 
sous toutes les flammes du printemps I 

Deux heures. Eparpillons cette marguerite. "Un peu, 
beflucoup, passionnSment . . ." — Passionn&nent, petite Ma- 
non, viens vite, accours, je t'en supplie. — H^l toi, tu souris 
d'un sourire k me rendre fort m^content. Sale encydop^diste I 

— Oh I ... La void sous toutes les flammes du printemps I . . . 

Et les arbres toumcnt et le gazon toume autour de la statue 
de Voltaire. — D6dd6ment, c'est d'un beau vert, c'est d^li- 
deux, le square Monge : herbe verte, grille et bancs verts, gar- 
dien vert, c'est, quand j'y songe, un beau coin de I'univers. — 
Je monte sur un banc couleur d'esp^rance. On doit me voir do 
toute la France ! 

Paul Fort 


'here is there a better presentation of youth and 
Spring! The young man balancing himself upon 
the wire arches which border the flower-beds, and, 
in the laughing egoism of his bubbling exuberance, 
declaring that surely from there he can be seen by 
all France, is delightful. I wish I had space for 
others of the poems in this volume, particularly Sur 
le Pont au Change, but I must leave them for my 
readers to find. 

In 1903, Hymnes du Feu came out, and in 1906, 
Coxcomb ou VHomme Tout Nu Tombi du Paradis. 
This last is a strange sort of ironical allegory. It 
cannot be taken to pieces, I leave it to those who 
wish to read it. It is one of his best things and well 
worth the trouble of getting the volume. 

In 1905, Paul Fort founded the quarterly, Vers el 
Prose, which he has edited ever since. How he has 
found time for such an arduous task, with all his 
other writing, I do not know. The theory that we 
are harder workers, or greater hustlers, in America, 
does not seem to be borne out by the lives of 
Verhaeren, De Gourmont, De R^gnier, and Fort. 
This description of Fort chez lui is not without in- 
terest, depicting as it does that most intimate thing 
about a man, the room in which he feels most at 

"A little beyond the great bronze Hon of the Place 
Denfert-Rochereau, in the Avenue d'Orl^ans — a 
little street, narrow, grey, and sad. On the second 


Six French Poets 

floor of one of the houses in this street lives 1 
Fort, with his mother, his wife, and his daughter. 
The room in which Paul Fort works is small, rather 
sombre, furnished with a bed of walnut half-covered 
with a big eiderdown of violet serge, all puffed up; 
some chairs, a chest of drawers, and a wardrobe ; 
and against the window, with its white curtains, a 
round table packed with papers, books, and reviews, 
which mount in zigzagging piles to within a shc»-t 
distance of the ceiling. On the walls, pictures — 
little paintings given by painter friends, family photo- 
graphs. Paul Fort is there, dressed in black, and 
as usual, at whatever hour you see him, tightly 
cravatted with a large riblxin of black silk wound 
many times round his neck." 

Paul Fort looks like the traditional poet, with 
long hair. He complains that he is taken for a 
musician on account of it. Possibly for D'Indy, he 
says, with a smile, D'Indy being bald. 

Some years ago, Paul Fort was elected Prince des 
Pontes ; a position which Verlaine, Mallarm^, and 
L^on Dierx held before him. The Sociite des Pontes 
elects the holder of this purely visionary office, its 
reason for being consisting in the honour of elec- 
tion to it. That Paul Fort should have received it, 
proves that even typography cannot keep a man 
for ever from his just rights. All his critics bewail 
the fact that, writing Chansons Populaires, still Paul 
Fort is not yet accepted by the people. Whether his 

Paul Fort 


Chansons are really for the masses, those who know 
the French proletariat are the best Judges. But I 
cannot help feeling that, judging by most proletariats, 
Paul Fort's irony and learning, his many overtones 
and subtle meanings, would do away with any 
success his robustness might win him. Whether the 
proletariat £^rees or not, Paul Fort is a great poet, 
a very great poet. 

It is interesting to us to have him say : "I have a 
great admiration for the English poets, for Keats 
first of all. They always present themselves in a 
poetic intoxication. Their poems do not begin, do 
not end. They make one think of outspread moon- 
light, which gives mystery and profoundness to 
nature and to the objects bathed in its radiance. I 
should like to realize, in French, a poetry like theirs, 
which would enable me to envelop more, to blur 
more, so to speak, the psychological subjects of my 
writings, which, on the other hand, would be obliged 
to keep a very French character," 

It is this endeavour which gives to Paul Fort his 
qualities of Englishman and Frenchman, which I 
have spoken of several times. 

I have not mentioned in detail all Paul Fort's 
books. I have spoken of eight, and there are eight 
others I have not mentioned. It is not possible to 
take more than a bird's-eye view of such a man as 
Paul Fort in a single chapter. Suffice it to say, 
that the eight volumes I have not mentioned, al- 


Six French Poets 

though full of beautiful things, do not perhaps show 
any distinctively new facet of his genius. 

Since the outbreak of the war, Paul Fort has been 
writing poems on the war. These are issued in 
little, unbound parts, twice a month. It was from 
the first of these that I quoted, when I gave the 
description of his childhood in the shadow of the 
Cathedral at Rheims. In closing, I want to quote 
one more poem from the PoSmes de France, as he 
calls them. This is no longer the time for Ballades, 
as Fort naturally feels. 

This poem is a new note. It is Paul Fort burnt 
in the fire of a great national calamity : 


Iff a hni V9J to Tipfinry, 

Feu I Tommy . . . Le cceur gigue aus chocs de nos canons. 
Du calme, bon garson. Ah! c'est mdement long, rudement 
long pour aller k Tipperary. Depuis la soif dliier apais^ sans 
whisky, je canonne, on canonne. Ah I . , . c'est rudement bon. 

Qui m'a jetd sa gourde? Eh I vieux Bob, tu es mart? Du 
calme, cher gargon. A bientfit Leicester . . , Square. . . . 
All right 1 il est mort pour sa vieille Angleterre. La gourde est 
vide: feu! Tommy, canonne encore! Nous nous battons si 
bien, all right I les morts ont tort. 

Du calme, fier gargon. Ah I c'est rudement long, rudement 
long pour aller k Tipperary, l^-bas, prte de la jolie fille que je 

Paul Fort 325 

Bile me disait oui quand je lui disais non. Peul 
Tommy, Le cceur gigue aiat chocs de nos canons. 

Tommy, sache. Tommy, que I'amour a. du bon. Oui, c'est 
une lointaine et &ae demoiselle, que I'on n'atteiot jamais qu'en 
rfive. large bee ! Tu rfives et tout vient, I'ime et le corps 
avec. Id rien que la mort, elle est fichue donzelle. 

La mort ! ah I si j'avais toumfi les yeux vers elle, la teutonne 
m'eilc pris le cou de son bras sec et fait goflter sa bouche en- 
dent^e de shrapnells, en m'^touflant le sein jusqu'4 I'extrgme 
angoisse. Juste Seigneur ! I'amour n'a rien de plus cruel I 

Mais la mort, on n'y pense pas, elle est en face. Du calme, 
heureux gargon. I^ mort, la verrais-tu? Flottant sur la ba- 
taille ainsi qu'un 6tendard, c'est un grand vieux squelette us^ de 
toute part : elle flotte k pr^nt sur les casques pointus. 

Feu! Tommy . . . Quoi! tu meurs aussi, garfon fidSe? 
Te voil^ dans les bras de !a fichue donzelle ? Rel^ve-toi, gargon 1 
Ah ! c'est rudement long, rudement long pour aller k Tipperary. 
Adieu, Leicester Square, adieu, Piccadilly! 

Nous 6tions quinze, hurrah I nous sommes trois qui bougect. 
canon, tes Ixmtets sont teints de notre sang, notre sang qui 
refait notre unif orms rouge : devant nous les Teutons sont ex- 
sangues de peur, ils croient que nous chargeons ta gueule avec 

Dansons ! dansons la gigue ! — Ah I oui . , . quoique vaJn- 
queurs, nous dansons notre gigue en plein ciel du Seigneur. 


Six French Poets 

Nous, bons gar^ons, oous somines & Tipperary. Boajour, KJaCe. 
bonjour, Annie, bonjour, Nelly . . . Nos asars se trouvent 
bien, potirvu que sur la tCTre. 

elle vive ^ jamais notre vieille Aogleterre I 

To take Tipperary, and make such a terrible, 
tragic thing with it, this is Paul Fort's genius : to 
react to the stimuU about him, and so reacting to 
produce great art. More than any one, he has felt 
the common, and turned It into the uncommon. 

The book is done. I have not attempted any 
very far-reaching criticism. My object has been to 
talk a Httle while about a few great figures in a 
generation which is already past the meridian. 
For eighty years or so, this great era for French 
poetry has lasted. But already before the war it 
was on the wane. The younger men : Jules Re- 
mains, Andr6 Spire, Guillaume Apollinaire, Guy- 
Charles Cros, Charles Vildrac, do not seem to have 
quite the same remarkable power. Foolish fads, a 
sure sign of disease, were creeping in. Now the war 
has ended a period. When France recovers herself 
from the exhaustion which must follow her supreme 
effort, it will be another generation of poets who will 
be writing ; they will sing their present, and our pres- 
ent wilt be their past. The six men we have studied 
are the last glorious flower of a time already over. 


Most of the following translations are in prose, for the reason 
that I have stated in the Preface, but the stanzas have been 
preserved in order to make comparison with the original easier 
for the reader. In a few cases the stanzas have been suppressed, 
but only when the transition from one to another became awk- 
ward in the prose form. The French fondness for parentheses 
has made it necessary to change the ptmctuation somewhat, but 
the original punctuation has been kept wherever practicable. A 
few of the translations are in vers libre, becatise the feeling of those 
particular poems seemed to evaporate in prose ; and three of the 
translations are in metre, because the originals appeared to me to 
require such a rendering. Opposite each translation is the num- 
ber of the page in the text where the original poem may be found. 


Page 8. A fist of terror tortures the villages ; 

In the distance, tall steeples 
Send the echo of their alarm-bells 
Rebounding from shore to shore. 

Page 8. The wind sings, the wind babbles, 

with chaffinch and grosbeak and sparrow, 
the wind whistles, shines and sparkles 


328 Six French Poets 

at the points of the tall reeds ; 

the wind knots itself together, and winds about t 
and unwinds, 

and then suddenly escapes to the bright orchards be- 

where the apple-trees, like white peacocks — 

mother-of-pearl and sunlight — 

outspread themselves. 

Page p. And up above, September journeys 

With his sky of mother-of-pearl and gold. 

And hangs the shining blocks of his most beautiful 

Over the meadows, the fields, and the villages. 

Page p. Do you hear it, do you hear it. 

The little stream upon the pebbles ? 

It flows, and runs, and slides ; 

And, to the branches 

Which hang above it. 

Softly dedicates its smooth song. 

Page 10, I remember the village near the Escaut, 
From which one saw the great boats 
Pass like a dream plumed with wind 
f And marvellous with sails. 
Evening in procession tmder the stars. 

Appendix A 


The threshold of the kitchen was old and split. 
The hearth shone like a red puddle, and its flames, 
incessantly gnawing at the back plate, had eaten into 
it an obscene subject in melted iron. 

The fire rejoiced under the mantelpiece which 
stretched over it like the penthouse roof over a booth, 
and the bright ornaments of wood, of copper, of lacquer 
upon it sparked less to the eyes than the whtbing 

Rays escaped from it like a spray of emeralds, and 
here — there — everywhere — gave fillips of brilliance 
to the glass jugs and glazed platters. To see the sparks 
fall upon every raised surface, one would have said — 
into such particles did the fire crumble itself — that 
the sun had been winnowed through a leaded window. 


And this London of brass and bronze, my soul, 
where iron plates clash under sheds, where sails go 
forth without Notre Dame for star — go forth, away, 
toward unknown hazards. Sooty, smoky stations, 
where gas weeps its distant silver melancholies to roads 
of lightning ; where bored animals yawn at the hour 
which, immensely mournful, tolls from Westminster. 
And these embankments, infinite with fatal lanterns — 
Fates whose spindles plunge into darkness — and 
these drowned sailors, under the petals of mud 
flowers where the flame throws its light. And these 
shawls, and these gestures of drunken women, and 


33° Six French Poets 

these alcohols of golden letters up to the roofs, and all 
at once death in the midst of these crowds. 

Oh,my soul of the evening, this black London which 
drags through you I 


Page Iff. The windmill turns in the depths of the evening, 
very slowly it turns, against a sad and melancholy 
sky. It turns, and turns, and its wine-coloured sail 
is infinitely sad, and feeble, and heavy, and tired. 

Since dawn its arms — pleading, reproachful — 
have stretched out and fallen ; and now again they 
fall, far oS in the darkening air and absolute silence 
of extinguished nature. . ^J;^/,f^^c~iSf»^y/ ^ 

Sick with winter, the day drowses to sleep u[)dh 
the villages ; the clouds are weary of their gloomy 
travels ; and along the copses where shadows are 
gathering, the wheel-tracks fade away to a dead hori- 
son. Some cabins of hecrh logs squat miserably in 
a circle about a colourless pond ; a copper lamp hangs 
from the ceiling and throws a patina of fire over wall 
and window. And in the immense plain, by the side 
of the sleeping stream — wretched, miserable hovels I 
— they fix, with thepooreyesof their ragged window- 
panes, the old windmill which turns, and — weary — 
turns and dies. ,' . 

/ ^ nti> Coocnfta 

THE DEAD -^ IX-''^ ' f"'^" 

Page 21. In its dress of the colour of gall and poison, the 
corpse of my reason trails upon the Thames. 

Appendix A 

Bronze bridges, where wagons clank with intermi- 
nable noises of hinges, and sails of dark boats, let their 
shadows fall upon it. With no movement of hands 
over its clock face, a great belfry, masked with red, 
gazes at it as though at someone immensely sad and 

My reason is dead from too much knowledge, from a 
too great desire to shape the motive of every being and 
every thing, and place it upon a black granite pedestal. 
It died atrociously, of a clever poisoning ; it died also 
of a mad dream of an absurd and red empire. On the 
illuminated evening of a festival, when it felt this 
triumph float, like eagles, over its head, its nerves 
shivered. It died when it could no more feel ardour 
and aching desires. And it killed itself, infinitely 

All down the length of mournful walls, the length of 
iron factories where hammers boom like thunder, it 
trails to the funeral. 

There are wharves and barracks, always wharves 
with lanterns — slow and motionless spinners of the 
dim gold of their lights. There are the drearinesses 
of stones, a brick house, a black jail, whose windows, 
like dull eyelids, open to the evening fog. There are 
great insane dockyards, full of dismantled ships and 
yards quartered against a sky of crucifixions. 

Six French Poets 

In its dress of dead jewels, which celebrates the 
hour of purple at the horizon, the corpse of my reason 
trails upon the Thames. 

It passes toward the chances in the depths of shadow 
and fog, to the long hollow sound of the tolling of 
heavy bells breaking their wings at the corners of 
towers. Leaving unsatisfied behind it the immense 
dty of life, it goes toward the black unknown, to 
sleep in the graves of evening, far away, where the slow 
and powerful waves, opening their endless caverns, 
Bwallow the dead forever. 

Page 2$. In a wide flash of lightning through the mists, an 
avenue suddenly opens ; and Saint George, fermenting 
with gold, with plumes and froth at this horse's white 
breast, descends. The diamond trappings make of 
his fall the triumphal road for Heaven's pity to come 
to Earth. 


Pagfi 38. Long like threads without end, the long rain 
Interminably, across the grey day, 
Streaks the window-panes with its long grey threads, 
Endlessly, the rain, 
The long r^n, 
The r^n. 

Since yesterday evening it has ravelled itself so, 
Out of the rotten rags hanging 






Appendix A \ ^^ 

From the solemn and black sky. . 

It stretches itself, patiently — slowl, 


Upon the roads, 

Since yesterday evening — upon the x 

Continually. ^ 

Along the miles \ 

Which go from the fields to the suburbs/ 

By ways interminably winding, 

Pass the teams with arching hoods. 

Toiling, sweating, smoking, 

Like a funeral train seen in profile ; 

In the straight ruts. 

Parallel for such a distance that at night they seem 

to join the heavens. 
The water drips for hours ; 
And the trees weep and the houses. 
Soaked as they are by the long rain, 
Tenaciously, indefinitely. 

Through their rotten dikes 

The rivers burst over the meadows 

Where the drowned grain floats ; 

The wind slaps alders and walnut trees. 

Ominously, half -submerged in water. 

The great, black oxen bellow to the tortured heavens ; 

Evening comes with its shadows. 

And the plains and the coppices are clogged with them, 

And always there is the rain, 

The long rain. 

Fine and dense like soot. 

334 '^^^ French Poets 

The long rain, 

The rain — and its identical threads, 

And its systematic nails 

Weave the shroud of destitution 

Mesh by mesh, 

For the houses and the enclosures 

Of the grey old villages ; 

Linens and rosaries of rags 

Which ravel out 

All down the upright beams ; 

Blue pigeon-houses glued to the roof ; 

Windows whose dilapidated panes 

Have a plaster of brown paper ; 

Windmills planted, uniform and dull. 

Each on its hiU, like horns ; 

Belfrys and neighbouring chapels. 

The rain. 

The long rain. 

Assassinates them during the Winter. 

The rain 

The long rain, with its long grey threads. 

With its hair of water, and its wrinkles. 

The long rain 

Of old countries, 

Eternal and torpid. 

Appendix A 335 


Page ji. le was being buried, the old miller of the black 
mil, buried in Winter, on an evening of rough cold and 
biter North wind, in a ground of cinders and hem- 
lo4c plants. 

Che daylight darted its deceiving brilliance at the 
gjive-digger's shovel. A dog wandered about near 
tib grave, and barked at the brightness. 

At each dig the shovel changed like a mirror, 
iione, took hold, and buried itself in the disturbed 
iarth. The sun went down beneath suspicious 

Against a background of sky, the grave-digger, like 
an enormous insect, seemed to fight with fear. The 
shovel trembled in his hands, the ground opened in 
spite of him, and nothing filled up the hole which, 
like the night, widened in front of him. 

In the village yonder, no one had lent two sheets to 
the dead. 

In the village yonder, no one had said a prayer. 

In the village yonder, no one had wanted to nail 
the coffin. 




Six French Poets 

And the houses and cottages along the roads facing 
the cemetery, all had their shutters closed so as to see 

The grave-digger felt himself alone vith this dead 
man who had no shroud, for whom everyone (elt 
hate and fear in their blood. 

Upon his hill, gloomy with evening, lie old miller 
of the black mill had been used to live in harmony 
with space and distance, and the mad fight of tem- 
pests streaming from the flapping mane c the North 
winds ; for long he had listened to what tie dark and 
golden mouths of the stars reveal to thoe who are 
attentive to the eternal ; the grey desert of austere 
heather had ringed his eyes with the mystery by which 
things make souls aware of them, and speali to them 
and counsel them; the great currents wHch flow 
through everything that lives had entered lis mind 
with such power, that, in his isolated and profound 
soul, this simple peasant had felt the movement and 
fermentation of the world. 

The oldest man did not know how long it was that 
he had been hiding yonder, far from the village, watch- 
ing the flight of birds and their joumeyings, and the 
signs of flame in the clouds. 

He awed by the silence of which he had noiselessly 
woven his existence; he awed still further by the 
golden eyes of his windmill, shining suddenly at 

The grave-digger saw the surgmg shadows increase 
like crowds, and the village and its shut windows fade 
into the distance and disappear. 

The universal disquiet peopled the solitude with 
cries ; in black and brown veils the wind passed by as 
though it were someone ; all the vagueness of hostile 
horizons became fixed in feverish rustlings, until the 
moment when, with wild eyes, throwing his shovel no 
matter where, with the multiple arms of night in 
menaces behind him, like a thief he fled. 

Then came silence, absolute, all about. In the riven 
earth the hole appeared gigantic, nothing moved any 
; and, alone, the insatiable plains in their 
Northern immensity of shadow absorbed the dead 
man, whose life had been rendered limitless and 
exalted to the infinite, by their mystery. 


The plain, in the dark evening distance, is all 
alight, and the alarm-bells break and jangle to the four 
walls of the horizon. 


Six French Poets 

By way of the roads, the crowd — by way of the 
villages, the crowd surges; and in the yards the 
watch -dogs howl. 

- — A hayrick bums I — 

The flame roars, and breaks, and pounds, tears itself 
into tatters which it waves, or, sinuous and tailed, un- 
rolls itself to streaming hair — eager, slow — then 
suddenly calms and lets go, and dodges and disap- 
pears : and now, bright, of mud and gold, it veers 
in a plume over the black sky. 

— When suddenly in the distance another hayrick 
catches fire 1 — 

It is enormous — like a red, shaken bundle of sul- 
phurous serpents. The glare I — it passes over acres 
of land, and farms, and villages, where, from window- 
pane to window-pane, a red clot moves, 

— A hayrick bums ! — 

The fields ? They become limitless with terrors ; 
the foliage of the woods Ufts itself up in light over the 
marshes and the ploughed lands ; rearing stallions 
whinny at the terror ; enormous flights of birds be- 
come dazed and fall into the flames — and stifled cries 

Appendix A 339 

rise from the ground ; and it is death, death bran- 
dished and flung up again by the lifted arms of the 

And the silence after fear — when suddenly, over 
there, formidably, in the weary evening, a new fire 
fills the deeps of the twilight. 

— A hayrick bums I — 

At the cross-roads, haggard men make bewildered 
gestures, children cry, and old men lift their withered 
arms to the flames waving like banners. While far- 
ther off, obstinately silent, madmen, with stupor in 
their eyes — look on. 

— A hayrick bums I — 

The air is red, the sky seems to have died, ominously, 
imder the shut eyes of the stars. The wind drives 
gold pebbles before it in a tearing of veils. The fire 
becomes a clamour howling in flames to the echoes, 
to the distance, to the other shore, where suddenly 
the far side of the river lights up like a dream. The 
whole plain ? It is a live coal, an illusion, blood and 
gold — and the tempest sweeps on the passing death of 
the heavens so violently that at the confines of the 
terror the entire sky seems to have disappeared. 

Six French Poets 


The enormous street and its quadrangular hotises 
border the crowd and dike it with their granite, eyed 
with windows and porches, in whose panes aureoled 
evenings shine farewell. 

Like an upright torso of stone and metal, contain- 
ing in its unclean mystery the beating and panting 
heart of the world, the monument of gold stands 
in the darkness. 

About it, black banks lift their pediments supported 
by the arms of bronze Hercules, whose great weary 
muscles seem to be holding strong-boxes up to victory. 

The square, from which it erects its battleground, 
sucks in the fever and the tumult of each wave of pas- 
sion towards its occult lover — the square and its 
open spaces, and its walls, and numberless gas-jets, 
which make the clusters of shadows and Ugfats upon 
the sidewalks stir. 

How many dreams, like red fires, intermingle their 
flames and their eddies from the top to the bottom 
of the mad palace 1 Monstrous and culpable gairi 
tightens itself into knots, and its desire sows and 
propagates itself, going out to inflame neighbouring 
vanities from door to door, through the town. Heavy 
counters grumble like a storm, gross profusions be- 
come jealous and ragp, and tempests of failures, sud- 


Appendix A 341 

denly, with brutal blows, beat and overtuni the great 
moDumeDtal men of the town. 

At a given moment of the afternoon, the fever in- 
creases still more, and penetrates the building, and 
ferments in the walls. One almost believes one sees 
it quickening itself at the motionless flame-flowered 
lamps, running from banister to banister, assembling 
itself, and bursting out and crackling, upon the 
landings and the marble of the stairways. 

At the mirage of a pale hope, a rekindled fury 
mounts through the fuimel of noise and smoke from 
those fighting by theft below. Dry tongues, piercing 
looks, contradictory gestures, and brains crossed by 
whirlwinds of millions, exchange their fear and their 
terror there. Haste simulates audacity, and audaci- 
ties surpass themselves ; fingers scratch the insanity 
of their anguish upon slates ; cynically, a discount 
which breaks a people at the other end of the world, 
illuminates it ; chimeras are winged with light ; luck 
flees or over-abounds ; deals concluded, deals broken 
off, struggle and clash together in disputes ; the air 
bums — and paradoxical figures, in flat packages, in 
heavy bundles, are thrown back, and jolted, and 
shaken, and worried in these tumults until their weary 
sums, masses against masses, are broken. 

On those days when catastrophes happen, Death 
scrolls them over with suicides, and failures crumble 
to ruins which Same in exalted obsequies. But the 

Six French Poets 

same eveaiog, in the pale hours, wilts revive i] 
and the sly fury takes hold again as before. 

People betray, smile, gnaw, and encompass other 
deaths. Hate hums like a machine about those 
whom it assassinates. Men of needy fortune are 
robbed with authority. Honour is mixed with swin- 
dling to lure even nations into the universal n 
the hunt for the burning and infamous gold. 

Oh, gold ! In the distance, Uke towers in the clouds, 
like towers upon the steps of illusion 1 Enonnous 
gold I Like towers in the distance, with millions of 
arms stretched towards it, with gestures and calls 
in the night, and the muttering of the universal prayer, 
from end to end of the horizons of the world I 

In the distance, cubes of gold upon triangles of gold, 
and all about, celebrated fortunes mounting upon the 
scaffoldings of algebras. 

Gold I — to eat and drink gold 1 — and, even more 
ferocious than the rage for gold, the faith in the 
mysterious gamble and its dark and hazardous chances, 
and the certainty of its arbitrary designs to restore 
the old destiny. Play, terrible axis, where future 
passion will turn desperately about adventure for 
the sole pleasure of anomaly, for the sole need of 
bestiality and frenzy, over there, where laws of terror 
cross with supreme disorders 1 

Appendix A 343 

Like an upright torso of stone and metal, containing 
in its unclean mystery the beating and panting heart 
of the world, the monument of gold stands in the dark- 


Page 46, Get you gone, get you gone, 

The entire inn is for those who come. 

It belongs to us, it belongs to us. 
For very nearly three hundred years. 
It belongs to us, it belongs to us, 
Prom the outer door with its heavy bolts 
Up to the very chimney tops. 

Get you gone, get you gone, 

The entire inn is for those who come. 

We .know it well, we know it well, 

Every decay and every crack. 

But it is we alone who pretend 

To put new plaster instead of the old 

From the ground-sills up to the edge of the roof. 

Get you gone, get you gone. 

The entire inn is for those who come. 

We venerate those who are dead. 
Lying in their coffins of oak ; 
We envy those already dead 

Six French Poets 

Unconscious of the cries of hate 

Which leap and bound from plain to plain. 

Get you gone, get you gone, 

The entire inn is for those who come. 

It is our right, it is our right, 
To put an Eagle on our sign ; 
It is our right, it is our right, 
To own, according to the law. 
More than we need of barley and rye. 

Get you gone, get you gone. 

Gestures and words mean nothing now. 

Get you gone, get you gone. 

And understand 
That our hunger makes our right I 


My soul is an Infanta in robes of state, whose odle, 
eternal, monarchical, is reflected in the great, empty 
mirrors of Bome old Escurial, like a galley forgotten 
at its anchorage. 

Two Scotch greyhounds, with melancholy eyes, 
stretch out magnificently at the feet of her aimchair, 
and hunt, when it pleases her, symbolic a.nimjil'; in the 
forest of Drearns and Enchantment. 

Appendix A 345 

Her favorite pE^e, who is caUed"It-Has-Happened," 
reads bewitching poems to her softly, while immovable, 
a tulip in her fingers, she listens to their mystery 
dying within her. 

The park which surrounds her spreads out its foli- 
age, its marbles, its basins, its balustrades, and she 
intoxicates herself gravely upon the illustrious dreams 
which noble horizons hold for us. 

She is there, resigned and gentle, and without sur- 
prise ; knowing too much to struggle where all is 
fatality ; and feeling, despite some disdain of birth, 
sensible to pity, as the wave is to the breeze. 

She is there, resigned, and gentle in her sobs, more 
sombre only when she evokes the dream of some 
Armada, shadowed by the eternal falsehood, and so 
many beautiful hopes asleep under the waters. 

In the heavy purple evenings when her pride sighs, 
Van Dyck portraits, with their long, pure fingers, 
pale in black velvet against the tarnishing gold of the 
walls, with their airs of greatness dead, make her 
dream of empire. 

The old, golden illusions have dissipated her 
mourning, and in the visions which cheat her lassitude, 
suddenly a ray — of glory, of sunlight — Ughts up 
within her all the rabies of her pride. 

346 Six French Poets 

But sbe calms these fevers with a sad smile ; and 
dreading the crowd with its iron ttunults, she harkens 
to life — in the distance — like the sea . . . and the 
secret deepens upon her lips. 

No quiver troubles the pale water of her eyes, 
where sits the veiled spirit of dead cities ; and with no 
sound of doors, through the apartments she wanders, 
enchanting herself with mysterious words. 

The ineffectual waters of fountains in the distance 
fall — fall — and pale at the casement, a tulip in her 
fingers, she is there, reflected in the mirrors of old days, 
like a galley forgotten at its anchorage. 

My Soul is an Infanta in robes of state. 


Bring golden crystals. 
And glasses the colour of dreams ; 
That our love may be prolonged 
In exasperated perfumes. 

Roses ! Roses still ! 

I adore them, even to pain. 

They have the melancholy attraction 

Of things which give death. 

Appendix A 347 

The golden summer streams into the goblets ; 
The juice of the peaches which you are cutting 
Spouts over your snowy breast. 

The park is dark, like a gulf . . . 

And in my stormy heart 

Is a misery of sweetness which suffers. 


Page y6. Oh 1 Listen to the symphony ; 
Nothing is so sweet as an agony 
In music, which indefinitely 
Comes from a vaporous distance. 

The night is drunk with lassitude 
And our hearts, freed from the rude 
Monotonous effort of living, are wooed 
To fade and die in a dreamy trance. 

Let us slide between the water and sky. 
Let us slide under the far-off, high 
Moon ; my whole soul, the world passed by, 
Has sought a refuge in your eyes. 

I watch their pupils in the moon. 
Under the wailing string-notes swoon. 
Like supernatural flowers in time 
To beams of graceful melodies. 


Six French Poets 

Ob I Listen to the symphony ; 
Nothii^ is so sweet as an ^ony 
Of lip to lip united by 
Music prolonged indefinitely. 


October is sweet. — Pilgrim Winter goes forward 
to the sky where, startled, the last swallow is flying. 
Let us dream . . , the fire springs up and the North 
wind croons. Let us dream , , . the fire sleeps 
under its ennine cinders. 

The transparent, rose-coloured lampshade shines. 
The window is black under the monotonous downpour. 
Oh! the sweet "remember" in the chamber of 
Autumn, where from dead pier glasses the soul dif- 
fuses itself. 


The town is far away. Nothing — save a heavy 

sound of carriages which dies, sadly, in the thick 

folds of the curtains . . ., Let us fashion exquisite 
dreams upon miniatures. 

In mauve distances of a faded sweetness my soul 
loses itself, and the beribboned hour strikes a hundred 
jrears from the superannuated mantel-dock. 

Appendix A 349 


Pagers. Summer Night. — Under the sky of lapis-lazuli, 
the enchanted park bathes in its soft shadows. The 
flowers dream, love perfumes itself at their corollas. 
Quietly the moon mounts into the pale sky. 

There is a f6te at Bergamo, this evening, at the 
Lanzoli palace. Entwined couples descend from 
gondolas. The ball opens, starred with pink cande- 
labra. Flutes and horns, — the orchestra is conducted 
by Lulli. 

Madrigals, among the flowered dresses, offer 
their sublimated insipidities, with cloying sweetness. 
And over the gold glazing of the transparent floors, 
gossips of the Regency, exquisitely elderly, detail the 
advised langour of gavottes to the perfumed rhythm 
of dying fans. 


Page 7^. Tell me. Pretty Band, 

My soul is melancholy, 
Tell me, I supplicate you, 

Where it is. 
Is it in Venice, in Florence? 
Is it in the cotmtry of Hope ? 
Is it in the Ile-de-France ? 

Who knows? 

Six French Poets 

Come, you will see shqiherdesses. 
And sylvan marchionesses, 
The white sheep of china tables, 

And more, 
Birds which sing and birds which nest, 
Names like Lindor and Ang^le, 
And roses at the margins of 

The wells. 

Come, you will see Lucindas, 

Agneses, and Rosalindas, 

Festooned with pearls brought from the Indies, 

A parroquet on the forefinger, 
With a ruffle for a collar. 
And a great fan of ostrich feathers 


Irises and fair Estelles, 

In hats of floating, filmy lace, 

Dream near the silver, fine cascades 

Which weep. 
And softly closing their great wings. 
The butterflies in love with them 
Become at once unfaithful to 

The flowers. 

United in a close embrace 
Lovers wander free from fear 
About the windings of the secret 

Appendix A 351 

Over the diaphanous garden hovers 
A half -silence, no rumour lingers 
But dies and leaves the strolling lovers 
In peace. 

It is that very Day Divine, 
Drawn by dreams over the grass. 
That grass which seems to be a little 

Loves there are quite fulfilled, 
Amber and emerald eyes are stilled. 
Proposals without haste are frilled 
Over an avowal. 

Evening falls . . . The hour is soft. 
And draws away with even feet 
Hardly resting on the sweet 

An indecisive light persists 
And pensive twilight wreathes its mists 
Opens its eyes like amethysts 


Swans sail about in troupes ; 

We lunch upon the grass in groups, 

Glasses clink against the glasses 

Of finest gold. 
Sevres are the plates from which we eat ; 
And madrigals, so arch, so sweet, 
Crimson the singing lips, a treat 

Endless and old. 

352 Six French Poets 

Afternoon denies those joys ; 
Daylight intoxication cloys. 
It fades into an infinite 

Smoke from cottage chimneys rises 
In the darkening sky, surprises 
Glow of stars, with silver light. 


Lovers whisper what they please, 
Women's eyes no longer tease 
But are faithful, and one sees 

Their souls. 
Two and two, like angels roaming 
In some painted Missal's gloaming. 
Wistful kisses given, taken, 

Couples pass. 

To the sound of music slow, 
Lovers pace there to and fro, 
Steps lag slower, careless, so 

They go. 
Upon the earth the heavens float, 
A solitary evening note 
Tinkles from the Angelus 

Over Cytherea. 

Six French Poets 

"Mr Mol" nid the PomtX . 

Ae tlK iod^B beatfl^ c< MI ioBi 

^mt wis hi ng coold be faeatd, O t 
in the oave whcne an mgnst aience bmcrad. bat aa 
(^ woman, on ber koMS, w m i iag Ear her cUd. 

I adore the mdecisiTe — sounds, frail cokxm, ererr- 

teas, hair and eyes, water, leaves, silk, and the sptrit- 
nahty of ilender fonns. 

Rhymes rubt»ng up against eadi other like tuitk- 
doves ; smoke where dreams turn m spirals ; the twilit 
room, where her profile fades into darkness, and the 
caress of her supernatural hands. 

The heavenly hour of coaxing hps, the soul like an 
incUned weight of delight, the soul which dies like 

And some heart of chaste shadow, perfumed with 
mystery, where a mystic and solitary love, like the 
ruby flame of a hanging lamp, watches night and day. 

Page Ss, I dream of soft verses and intimate branchings and 
Of verses which brush against the soul like wings. 

Appendix A 355 

Of pale-hued verses whose fluid meaning streams wide. 
As under the water streams Ophelia's hair. 

Of silent verses, without rhythm and without plot, 
Where the noiseless rhyme slips past like an oar. 

Of verses of an ancient stuff, exhausted. 
Impalpable like sound and cloud. 

Of verses of Autumn evenings, enchanting the hours 
With the feminine rite of minor syllables. 

Of verses of evenings of love, enervated with verbena, 
In which the soul — barely — exquisitely — feels a 
a caress. 

And which, the whole length of nerves bathed in caress- 
ing waves. 
Die forever in feline swoonings. 
Like a perfume dissolved in a closed warmness. 

Viols of gold and pianisstm* amarose. 

I dream of soft verses dying like roses. 


Page 88, Quit your needle and your linen, my girl, the master 
will soon be here. Put the dear, flowered china, and 
the bright glass, on the oak table with its new cloth 
with the shining folds. In the cup with the handle 

356 Six French Poets 

which curves like a swan's neck, upon vine leaves, 
arrange your chosen fniits — peaches with their virgin 
velvet still upon them, heavy blue grapes mixed with 
grapes of gold ; and see that all the baskets are filled 
with nicely-cut bread. Then shut the doors and drive 
out the bees . . . 

The sun bums outside, and the wall cooks. Close 
the shutters and make it almost dark, so that the 
room, plunged in shadow, is all perfumed with the 
fruits on the table. Now go and draw fresh water 
in the court, and above all, be careful that the pitcher, 
when you bring it back, keeps a Eght vapour, iced 
and slowly melting, for a long time upon its sides. 

Page S8. In the court where the fowls are clucking, Bathyles, 
bending over a basin, piiSs into a straw. With a 
great noise the soapy water froths, and boils, and 
overflows. The child, exhausting himself to no pur- 
pose, feels a salt bitterness on his lips. Happily, at 
last, there is the outline of a bubble. Conducted with 
art, it lengthens, widens, and finally rounds itself 
into a sparkling globe. The child continues to blow, 
and the bubble keeps on growing. It has the hundred 
colours of the prism and of dawn, and in its thin crys- 
tal sides are reflected the trees, the house, the road, 
and a horse. Ready to take flight, marvellous, it 
shines I The child holds his breath, and the bubble 
oscillates, and gently rises — pale green and transpar- 
ent pink — like a frail shining prodigy, into the air I 

Appendix A 357 

It rises . . . And suddenly, his soul still dazzled, 
Batbyles seeks the vanished glory in vain, 


In the noisy room a silence falls . . , Pannyre of 
the golden heels comes forward to dance. She is 
almost hidden in a veil of a thousand folds. With 
a long, silver trill the flute first invites her ; she starts 
forward, intersects her steps, and with a slow move- 
ment of the arms, gives a bizarre rhythm to the sym- 
pathetic material, which stretches, undulates, bellies 
and hollows, and at last spreads itself in a whirlwind 
, . . And Pannyre becomes flower, flame, butterfly I 
Everyone is silent ; eyes follow her in ecstasy. Bit 
by bit she takes fire in the fury of the dance. Always 
she turns : quick 1 quicker still ! The flames of the 
golden torches reel distractedly ! . . , Then, sharply, 
in the middle of the room, she stops ; and the veil 
twining about her in a spiral, suspended in its course, 
calms its long folds, and glued to her pointed breasts 
and polished sides, shows, in a divine flash, as through 
silky and flowing water, Pannyre standing naked. 


Above the great, dark woods, the shepherd's star 
comes out . . . Groups upon the grass in the mist 
. . . Pizzicati of violins . . . Hands linger in 
hands, the sky on which the lovers gaze leaves a rose- 
coloured reflection in the water; and in the misty 
clearing which approaching night idealizes, between 

358 Six French Poets 

Estelle and Cydalise, passes the enamoured shade of 


Watteau, ideal painter of the Charming File, ; 
frail art was tender and gentle a sigh, and you 
gave an unknown soul to Desire, placing it at the feet 
of Melancholy. 

Your exquisite shepherds held canes of gold in their 
fingers ; your shepherdesses, rot without a some- 
what haughty manner, rambled under the shade 
where fountains sang, in their dresses with the straight 
pleat behind. 

Roses died in the warm, bluish air ; hearts opened in 
the shade of the quiet garden, and hps, taking kisses 
from lips, united wistful love with the sweetness of 

Pilgrims go to the country of Ideals. . . . The 
golden galley abandons the shore ; and the maiden at 
the prow, pensive, listens to the sound of a flute dying 
away in the distance of the crystal evening. 

Oh ! To depart with them on an evening of mys- 
tery ! O Master, to live one evening in your enchanted 
dreamt The sea b rose-coloured ... A Summer 
breeze sighs, and when the ship approaches a silver 

The moon rises softly over Cytherea. 

Appendix A 359 

A fan, waving unceasingly to the intimate rhythm 
of avowals, lifts the hair from the forehead with each 
movement. The shadow is soft . . . Everything 
rests. Agnes smiles ; Leander places his violin upon 
his cloak; and over the scented roses and over the 
hands of the lovers, along the soft branches, floats the 
divine soul of Watteau. 


Page 04, O Versailles, why does the thought of you obsess 
me on this faded afternoon? The vehemence of 
Summer is passing, and the worn-out season is coming 
towards us. 

I should like to see once more, for a whole calm day, 
your green-blue waters strewn with red leaves ; and 
breathe again, on a gentle, golden evening, your 
beauty which is more touching at the decline of the 

Here are your coned yews, and your fat-cheeked 
Tritons, your patterned gardens where Louis comes 
no more, and your pomp which proclaims plumes 
and helmets. 

Like a great lily you are d3ring, noble and sad, with- 
out sotmd ; the old water slips past the mouldy lips 
of your basins as softly as a sob in the night. 


Six French Poets 


Grand manner. Urbanity of ancient customs. High 
ceremonial. Endless reverences. Cr^qui, Pronsac, 
beautiful names glistening with satin. Ducal bands 
in old valencienne lace. 

Royal hands upon spinets. Anthems of bishops 
before Monseigneur the Dauphin. Gestures of the 
minuet and hearts of fine porcelain, and those graces 
which were called Austrian. 

Princesses of the blood, whose state soul the cen- 
turies have steeped to the purest of casts. Great 
lords spangled with wit. Marquises of Sevres china. 

An entire world, gallant, lively, brave, exqui^te and 
silly, with its slendor sword at the angle for drawing, 
and, above all, the scorn of death, tike a flower, at the 


My steps have stirred up buried enchantments. 

mirror of old Saxe in which the Past is reflected 

. . . Here the Queen, listening to Z6mire and 

dreaming, fanned herself because the rughts were 

O visions: panniers, powderand patches; and then, 
light as a perfume, beautiful as a sraile, it is the air 
of old Prance which we breathe here ; and always 
this penetrating smell of box . . . 

Appendix A 361 

But what most seizes and crushes my heart, in the 
light of a long evening which gilds its agony, is the 
Great Trianon, solitary and kingly, 

And its deserted stone stairway, where Autumn so 
gently, dreamily, lets fall his red hair upon the 
divinely sad water of the great canal. 


Page q6. The grove of Vertumna is abandoned by the Graces. 
This shade which creeps from marble to marble, moan- 
ing, and steadies itself with a beautiful, feeble arm, is 
alas I the mourning Genius of old races. 

O Palace, supreme horizon of the terraces ! Some- 
thing of your beauty runs in our blood; and it is 
this which gives you an indescribable accent when a 
sublime stmset lights up your windows. 

Glories of which you were for so many days the 
scene, souls glittering under the chandeliers. Golden 
evenings, Versailles . . . But already the sombre 
night is closing in. 

And suddenly my heart tightens; like a sinister 
battering ram striking against the walls of time, 
there is always the great, dull sound of black waters 
in the darkness. 

36a Six French Poets 


Page 96. The air is of triple lightness. Under a sky of triple 
purity, the old market town, crumbling within its 
black walls, smiles, this clear winter morning, under 
its pebbles, at its familiar mountains which dream in 
the sky. 

A Alstons set in the pavement still speaks in ob- 
scure Latin of ancient funerals. Ccesar passed this 
way to gain his battles. A Spring bird sings upon an 
old wall. 

Noisy, in the lacy shade of a tree, the sculptured 
fountain in its marble basin flings up four silver 
threads to sparkle in the sunshine. 

And while through a crowd of urdiins the yellow 
diligence turns into the principal street, the Signa- 
dor's tower tosses out the hour, dreaming, 

Page gj. Pale and thin, the watchmaker works patiently ; 
lazily, with wide-open doors, the shops sleep ; and the 
frankness of good-momings is exchanged from one 
sidewalk to the other, as in old times. 

Notary's sign and doctor's plate ... A boy is 
watering donkeys at a well ; and conducted by a nun. 

Appendix A 

in symmetric lines, the small chUdren are going to say 
their catechism. 

All of a sudden, a ray of sunshine flung like an ar- 
row starts a fresh, clear voice singing in a dark lane as 
though it were a corridor. 

Little brooks stream in a crowd from the mountain, 
and everywhere there is a noise of rushing water 
which flows from dawn with its forehead of silver 
until evening with its eyes of gold. 


In the kitchen, where the scent of thyme floats, 
the return from market is like an evening after a day 
of booty. Pell-mell with the heavy meats, are heaped 
up leeks, radishes, garlands of onions, great violet 
cabbages, the red pumpkin, the glossy tomato, and 
the pale lemon. Like a great Idte, the 
and flat skate Ues, dug into by a knife, with a scarlet 
wound. A hare with red fur, and with eyes like 
burst grapes, sprawls on the pavement. From a heap 
of oysters emptied out of a basket covered with sea- 
weed, comes the smell of the open and the freshness 
of waves. Quails, partridges with soft, slate-coloured 
Stomachs, hang their broken necks, the beaks all cov- 
ered with blood. It is a butcher's stall, vibrating 
with green fruits, vegetables, mother-of-pearl, clear 
silver, scales and feathers. A chunk of salmon 
bleeds, and, still alive, a great bronze lobster, bought 

364 Six French Poets 

at the port and flung by chance with the provisions, 
moves a broken feeler as he dies. 


Page 9Q. Tie little, noiseless town sleeps soundly in the 

In the old branching street lamps, the feeble gas is 
dying ; but suddenly the rooon comes out, and along 
the whole line of white houses the windows shine with 

The wann night fans itself all along the chestnut 
trees . . . the unhastening night, in which light is 

still floating. In the old parts of the town all is black 
and deserted. Lean on the old stone bridge, my 
soul, and breathe the good smell of the river. 

The silence is so great that my heart shivers. Only 
the noise of my feet resounds on the pavement. The 
silence makes my heart tremble, and midnight strikes. 

Along the great walls of a convent, leaves rustle in 
the wind. Schoolgirls . . . Orphans . . . Blue rib- 
bons on tippets ... It is the garden of the 

Through the barred gate a breeze passes as gently 
as a sigh. And that star of quiet flames, over there, 
beyond the hornbeam hedges, seems a night-light of 

Appendix A 365 

Oh I under the slate roofs, whitened by the moon, 
virgins, and their pure sleep in clear rooms, and their 
httle round necks knotted with scapulars, and their 
sinless bodies in the whiteness of the beds ! 

Here one monotonous hour is followed by another 
monotonous hour, and peaceful innocence sleeps at 
the edge of life . . . 

Infinitely sad and deserted under the electric moon- 
light, the historical square solemnly lines up its old 
houses of Parliament. 

At the comer, a window is still lit up. A lamp 
is above, watching while everything sleeps. Every 
now and then, behind the thin stuff which dims the 
light, the shadow of a woman glides furtively. 

The window opens a little ; and the woman, poign- 
ant admission, wrings her beautiful, naked arms in 
the blue air . . , 

secret ardours of provincial nights ! Hearts 
which bum ! Disordered hair spread out ! Beauti- 
ful breasts heavy with desire, kneaded by pale hands. 
Great beseeching appeals, and never heard ! 

1 evoke you, you, unknown mistresses, whose 
flesh is consumed like a wasted torch, who weep hope- 
lessly over your beautiful bodies, and made for love 

366 Six French Poets 

and by love devoured, you will be laid some e 
as virgins in the grave ! 

And my pensive soul, at the comer of the square, 
stares always over at the window where the shadow 

The frail curtain shakes in the wind . . . The 
lamp goes out . . . One o'clock strikes. No one, 
no one, no one. 

To Albert Sahain 
My dear Samain, it is to you that I write stUL 
This is the first time I send to death these lines which, 
to-morrow, in Heaven, some old servitor of the eternal 
hamlet will bring to you. Smile at me so that I 
shall not weep. Say to me : " I am not as ill as you 
think." Open my door again, dear friend. Cross 
my threshold, and say to me as you enter; "Why 
are you in mourning?" Come in farther. You are 
in Orthez. There is Bonheur. Put your bat on 
that chair. Are you thirsty? Here is blue water 
from the well, and wine. My mother will come 
down and say to you ; "Samain . . ." Andmydog 
will lean his muzzle on your hand. 

I talk. You smile with a serious smile. Time does 
not exist. And you let me go on talking. Evening 


Appendix A 

comes. We walk in the yellow light which 
the end of the day like Autumn, We walk along the 
mountain stream, A hoarse pigeon complains softly 
in a hiue-green poplar. I chatter. You still smile. 
Bonheur is silent. See the road, dark at Summer's end, 
see the shadow kneeling near the four o'clocks which 
deck the black thresholds where the blue 

Your death changes nothing. The shade which 
you loved, in which you lived, in which you suffered, 
in which you sang, it is we who leave it, and you who 
keep it. Your light was bom of this darkness which 
brings us to our knees on beautiful Summer 
ings, when, under the black creepers, scenting God 
who passes and gives life to the grain, watch-dogs 

I do not regret your death. Others will put the 
laurel which is your right over the wrinkles of your 
forehead. For I, knowing you, I should fear to 
wound you. The glory of those who die uncrowned 
should not be hid from the sixteen -year-old children 
who will follow your bier, weeping over your lyre. 

I do not regret your death. Your life is there. As 
the voice of the wind which rocks the lilacs does not 
die, but returns after many years to those same lilacs 
which we had thought faded, so your songs, my dear 
Samain, will come again to soothe those children with 
whom our thoughts are already teeming. 

Six French Poets 

Like some antique shepherd whose flock weeps upon 
the bare hill, I should seek in vain upon your grave /or 
something which 1 can take away. The salt would 
be eaten by the mountain sheep, and the wine would 
be drunk by those who have plundered you. 

I dream of you. The day fades like that day when 
I saw you in my old country parlour. 1 dream of 
you. I dream of my native mountains. I dream of 
this Versailles where you took me, where we recited 
poems, sadly, and step by step. I dream of your 
friend, and I dream of your mother. I dream of those 
sheep who, waiting for death on the shores of the blue 
lake, bleat over their little bells. 

I dream of you. I dream of the pure emptiness 

of the heavens. I dream of the endJess water, of the 
brightness of fires. I dream of the dew which sparkles 
on the vines. I dream of you. I dream of myself , I 
dream of God. 


I have seen the portrait. The moon, pale and 
green, swam through the room; I had just waked 
up, and indistinct and ophidian visions still haunted 
me. Suspiciously, with feverish eyes, I looked 
about me. Was I in my room and in my bed ? Per- 
haps. There, over the chimney, the mirror slowly 
changed its tint ; its moon-green, its green of trans- 

Appendix A 


parent water under willow trees, suddenly brightened 
and became more golden. One would have said that 
in the centre of the light, as it is also on the face of the 
moon, shadows were thrown which had the appear- 
ance of human features, while about the vague face 
a luminous undulation wound, like blond hair undone 
and floating. 

A church with flying buttresses, short and heavy, 
first attracted the inexperienced attention, and fixed 
it by the splendour of its beribboned Madonna. 
When the setting sun, shining into the oval niche, 
bathed it in light, the rubies and peridots of her 
tiara, the lepidolitcs and the topazes, starry aureole, 
shimmered with the brilliance of so many stars, and 
the face with the diamond eyes shone with ecstasy. 

dream figure 
Page 123. The dearly beloved with the clear eyes appeared 
under the moon, under the ephemeral moon, mother 
of beautiful dreams. The misty blue light powdered 
her star-blossomed forehead with an ethereal dust, 
and her light hair floated in the air behind her spring- 
ing steps ; the chimera slept in the depths of her 
eyes. On the bare, delicate skin of her neck, the 
starry smiles of a rosary of pearls arranged in rows 
the reflections of their pale lightnings. About her 
w r i sts were identical bracelets, and her head bore the 

Six French Poets 

crown, incrusted with the seven mystical 

whose flames pierced the heart like knives, under the 

ephemeral moon, mother of beautiful dreams. 

Hypocritical flower. 
Flower of silence. 

Page iz6. Rose with the black eyes, mirror of your nothing- 
ness, rose with the black eyes, cause us to believe in 
mystery, hypocritical flower, flower of silence . . . 

Rose, colour of silver, censer of our dreams, rose, 
colour of silver, take our hearts and make smoke of 
them, hypocritical flower, flower of silence . . . 

Wine-coloured rose, flower of arbors and cellars, 
wine-coloured rose, mad alcohols gambol in your 
breath ; whisper to us the horror of love, hypocritical 
flower, flower of silence. 

Page 127. Rose of silk paper. Rose the colour of dawn, the 
colour of time, the colour of nothing. Flesh-coloured 
rose. Rose of the virginal heart. Rose, the colour 
of evening. Blue rose, iris-coloured rose. Carbuncle 
rose, rose blossomed on the black forehead of the 

Page 127. Transparent rose, colour of clear springs spoutiog 
up among grasses, transparent rose, Hylas is dead 
of having loved your eyes, hypocritical flower, flower 
of silence. 

Papal rose, rose watered by tbe hands which bless 
the world, papal 'rose, your golden heart is of copper, 
and the tears which fall in pearls upon your petals 
are the tears of Christ, hypocritical flower, flower of 

Hypocritical flower, 

Flower of silence. 

I prefer you to the most gallant hearts, dead hearts, 
hearts of other days . . . 

Jonquils, of which the pure eyelashes of so many 
blond girls are made . . . 

Aconite, flower helmeted with poison, warrior of 

Campanulas, little enamoured bells that the Spring 
tinkles . . . 

Four-o'clock who knocked at my door, it was mid- 
night, I opened my door to the Four-o'clock and her 
eyes blooming in the darkness . . . 

Lavender, little serious one, perfume of virtue . . . 
shirts by the dozen in oaken wardrobes, lavender not 
too mischievous and so tender . . . 

Alyssum, whose beautiful soul entirely evaporates 
in song . . . 

Page tzS. Birch, shiver of the bather in the ocean of wild 
grasses, while the wind plays with your pale hair . . , 
Mountain-ash, fringed parasols, coral seeds upon 
the golden necks of gypsies . . . 

37* Six French Poets 

Larch, lady of sad thoughts, parable leaning u 
the ruin of a wall, the silver spiders have spun their 
webs in your ears . . . 

Horse-chestnut, court lady in crinoline, lady in a 
dress embroidered with trefoils and feathers, lady, 
useless and beautiful. 


Page 130. An evening in the deserted heather with my 
Beloved smiling and weary ... Sun, like a 
picked flower your heavy head dies and falls, pale, 
to the horizon. Ah, if I were with my weary Beloved, 
one evening in the deserted heather I 

Among meadow-sweet and reeds, the tree-frogs 
cried their love songs. Beetles climbed up the horse- 
tails. Blue jays made the frail branches bend. One 
heard the love cries of the tree-frogs among the 


Up above, at the threshold of a half-open door, a 
dog wails to the new-risen and green moon which gives 
a Uttle joy to the blind sky ; a cow about to be milked 
moves and lows, up above, at the threshold of a half- 
open door. 

While we climb to the curve of the summit with 
restless and smiling souls, Vision, remaining half- 
way up, sits thoughtfully, her head in her hands; 
and we mount to the upmost top, we climb enuliog, 
with restless souls. 

Appendix A 

Page 131. Somewhere in the mists there is an island, and in 
the island a castle, and in the castle a great hall lit 
by a small lamp, and in the great hall are people who 
wait. For what do they wait? They do not know. 
They wait for some one to knock at the door, they 
wait for the lamp to go out, they await Fear, they 
await Death. They speak; yes, they say words 
which trouble the silence for a moment, then they 
listen again, leaving their sentences unfinished, their 
gestures interrupted. It will not come perhaps ? Oh, 
it will come ! It always comes. It is late, perhaps 
it will not come until to-morrow. And the people 
in the great hall under the httle lamp smile and hope. 
Some one knocks. And that is all; the whole of a 
life, the whole of life. 


Page 132. travellers who journey dreaming, dreaming 
perhaps of rose-coloured distances, while the dust 
and sunlight of arid spaces have burnt your bare 
arms and your wavering souls, travellers who 
journey dreaming, dreaming perhaps of rose-coloured 
distances I 

Here is the road which leads to the mountain, 
here is the clear spring where balsams grow, here is 
the wood full of shadow and anemones, here are 
pines, here ts peace, here are the lofty summits, here 
is the road which leads to the mountain, here is the 
clear spring where balsams grow ! 

Six French Poets 

O travellers, who journey dreaming, follow the 
voice which calls you to the heavens : the foliage of 
the trees is sweet as honey, and women with pure 
hearts become more beautiful there. tra^-ellere 
who journey dreaming, follow the voice which calls 
you to the heavens. 


Jewel found among Sicilian stones, Agatba, virgin 
sold to the love-dealers, Agatha, victorious over neck- 
laces and rings, of the seven magic rubies and the 
three moonstones, Agatha, rejoiced by the fire of 
red irons as an almond-tree by the gentle rains of 
Autumn, Agatha, embalmed by a yoimg angel with 
purple vestments, Agatha, stone and iron, Agatha, 
gold and silver, Agatha of the order of Malta, Saint 
Agatha, put fire into our blood. 


1. Grievous beauty hidden in prayer, Colette, severe 
to your heart and more severe to your flesh, Colette, 
prisoner in bitter cloisters where the necklaces of 
love are chains of iron, Colette who lay down upon 
the ground to die, Colette who after her death re- 
mained fresh as a stone, Saint Colette, cause ( 
hearts to become as austere as stones. 


Page 134. Shepherdess bom in Lorraine, Jeanne who tended 
sheep in a coarse cotton dress, and who wept at the 

Appendix A 375 

miseries of the people of France, and who conducted 
the King to Rheims amid lances, Jeanne who was a 
bow, a cross, a sword, a heart, and a lance, Jeanne 
whom the people loved as they do father and mother, 
Jeanne, wounded and taken, and thrown into a 
dungeon by the English, Jeanne, burnt at Rouen 
by the English, Jeanne, like to an angel in anger, 
Jeanne d'Arc put much anger into our hearts. 


Pagi I3S- Gri£Bn of the North, sacred beast come in the blue 
light of a boreal dream, Ursula, snow-flake drunk by 
the lips of Jesus, Ursula, red star to the purple tulip, 
Ursula, sister of so many iimocent hearts, whose 
bloody head smoulders like a carbuncle in the circle 
of the arch, Ursula, ship, sail, oar and tempest, 
Ursula, flown away upon the back of a white bird, 
Saint Ursula, bear our hearts away to the snows. 

Page 136. Simone, there is a great mystery in the forest of 
your hair. 

You savour of hay, you savour of stones against 
which animals have leaned ; you savour of leather, 
you savour of grain when it has just been winnowed ; 
you savour of wood, you savour of bread which is 
brought in the morning ; you savour of flowers which 
have sprung up along an abandoned wall ; you savour 
of brambles, you savour of ivy washed by the nun ; 
you savour of rushes and bracken which is mown 

376 Six French Poets 

at the fall of night ; you savour o£ holly, you savour 
of moss, you savour of red and dying grass which 
seeds itself in the shade of hedges; you savour of 
nettles and broom, you savour of clover, you sa;- 
vour of milk ; you savour of fennel and anise ; yoa 
savour of nuts ; you savour of fruits which are very 
ripe and being picked ; you savour of the willow 
and the linden when their leaves are full of flowers ; 
you savour of honey, you savour of Ufe which wallcs 
the fields ; you savour of the ground and the river; 
you savour of love, you savour of fire. 

Simone, there is a great mystery in the forest of your 


Page /J7. Simone, the suashine laughs upon the hoUy leaves: 
April has come back to play with us. 

Upon his shoulders he carries baskets of flowers 
which he gives to the hawthorns, to the chestnuts, 
and to the willows ; ' 

He sows them one by one in the grass of the fields, 
upon the banks of brooks, ponds, and ditches ; 

He keeps the jonquils for the water, the periwinkles 
for the woods, in those places which are overhung 
by branches ; 


Appendix A 377 

He throws violets into the shade under briars, 
where his naked foot fearlessly hides them and 
thrusts them in. 

To all the fields he gives Easter daisies, and prim- 
roses which have necklaces of little bells. 

In the forests, all along the cool paths, he lets fall 
lilies-of-the-valley with anemones. 

He plants irises upon the roofs of houses, and in 
our garden, Simone, where it is so pleasant. 

He will scatter columbines and pansies, hyacinths, 
and the good smell of wallflowers. 


Page 138, Simone, put on your cloak and your great, black 
sabots, we will go as in a boat through the fog. 

We will go to islands of beauty where the women 
are beautif td like trees and naked like souls ; we will 
go to islands where men are gentle like lions, with 
long, red hair. Come, the tmcreated world awaits 
our dream for its laws, its joys, for its gods who make 
the seed blossom, and the wind which makes the leaves 
shine and rustle. Come, the innocent world will 
soon rise trom a grave. 


Six French Poets 

Simone, put on your cloak and your great, black 
sabots, we will go as in a boat through the fog. 

We will go to islands where there are mountains 
from which can be seen peaceful stretches of country, 
with happy animals cropping the grass, shepherds 
who look like willow-trees, and sheaves being lifted 
into carts with forks. It is still sunlight, and the 
sheep stop before the gate of the garden which smells 
of bumet, tarragon, and thyme. 

Simone, put on your cloak and your great, black 
sabots, and we will go as in a boat through the fog. 


Page 140. Simone, let us go to the wood ; the leaves have 
fallen; they cover the moss, the stones, and the 

Simone, do you like the sound of steps upon dead 

They have such soft colours, such grave tints, they 
are such frail waifs upon the earth. 

Simone, do you like the sound of steps upon dead 

They have such a mournful look at twilight, they 
cry so tenderly when the wind tumbles them about. 


Appendix A 379 

Simone, do you like the sound of steps upon dead 

When they are crushed under foot, they lament 
like souls, they make a noise of wings or of women's 

Simone, do you like the sound of steps upon dead 

Come : some day we shall be poor dead leaves. 
Come: the night is already falling and the wind 
bears us away. 


Page 141. Simone, the river sings an ingenuous tune, come, 
we will go among the rushes and the water-hemlocks ; 
it is noon : the men have quitted their carts, and I — 
I shall see your naked foot in the clear water. 

The river is the mother of fishes and flowers, of 
trees, of birds, of scents, of colours ; 

She gives drink to the birds who have eaten their 
grain and who are about to fly to a distant country ; 

She gives drink to the blue flies with green stomachs, 
and the water-spiders who row like galleys ; 

Six French Poets 

The river is the mother of the fish : she gives them 
worms, grass, air, and ozone ; 

She gives them love; she gives them wings to 
follow the shadows of their females to the ends of the 

The river is the mother of flowers, of rainbows, ol 
everything which is made of water and a Uttle sun- 

She nourishes the French grass and the hay, and 
the meadow-sweet which has the perfume of honey, 
and the mullens 

Which have leaves as soft as the down of birds; 
she nourishes the com, the clover, and the reeds ; 

She nourishes the hemp, she nourishes the flax, 
she nourishes the oats, the barley, and the buck* 

She nourishes the rye, the osiers and the apple- 
trees ; she nourishes the willows and the great pop- 

The river is the mother of forests : from her bed 
the beautiful oaks have drawn the pure water ol 
their veins. 

Appendix A 


The river Eertiliaes the sky: when the rain falls 
it is the river drawn up into the sky and falling back ; 


er is a very powerful and very pure mother, 
s the mother of all nature. 

Simone, the river sings an ingenuous tune, come, 
we will go among the rushes and the water-hemlocks, 
it is noon : the men have quitted their carts, and I — 
I shall see your naked foot in the clear water. 


Page 143. Simone, let us go to the orchard, with a wicker 
basket. As we go into the orchard we will say to 
our apple-trees : This is the season of apples. Let 
us go to the orchard, Simone, let us go to the orchard. 

The appte-trees are full of wasps, for the apples 
are very ripe : there is a great murmuring about the 
old doux-aux-vSpes. The apple-trees are full of 
apples, let us go to the orchard, Simone, let us go to 
the orchard. 

We will pick the calville, the pigeonnet, and the 
pippin, and also cider-apples which are a little taste- 
less. This is the season of apples, let us go to the 
orchard, Simone, let us go to the orchard. 

You will have the smell of apples on your dress 
and on your hands, and your hair will be full of the 

3S3 Six French Poets 

sweet perfume of Autumn. The apple-trees are full 
of apples, let us go to the orchard, Simone, let us go 

to the orchard. 

Simone, you will be my orchard and my apple- 
tree of the doux-aux-vipes ; Simone, drive the wasps 
away from your heart and my orchard. This is 
the season of apples, let us go to the orchard, Simone, 

let us go to the orchard. 


Page 144. Come, my Dear, come, it is Autumn, damp and 
monotonous Autumn, but the leaves of the cheny- 
trces and the ripe fruit of the swect-briais are red 
like kisses. Come, my Dear, come, it is Autumn. 

Come, my Dear, come, the rude Autumn draws 
his mantle closer about him and shivers, but the 
sunshine ts pleasant ; in the air which is as soft as 
your heart, the mist cradles its langour. Come, my 
Dear, come, it is Autumn. 

Come, my Dear, the Autumn wind sobs like a 
person. And in the gaping thickets the brambles 
writhe their perverse arms, but the oaks are always 
green. Come, my Dear, come, it is Autumn. 

Come, my Dear, the Autimm wind scolds harshly 
and lectures us, the words whistle down the paths. 

Appendix A 383 

but the gentle sound of wood-pigeon's wings can be 
heard in the brush. Come, my Dear, come, it is 

Come, my Dear, the melancholy Autumn abandons 
itself to the arms of Winter, but the grass of Summer 
still grows, and the last heather is sweet, and one 
thinks one sees the blossoming of the moss. Come, 
my Dear, come, it is Autumn. 

Come, my Dear, come, it is Autumn, the poplars 
shiver, all bare, but their foliage is not dead ; puffing 
out its gold-coloured dress, it dances, it dances, it 
still dances. Come, my Dear, come, it is Autumn. 


Page 158. I dreamt that these verses should be like those 
flowers which the hands of master carvers twine 
about golden vases of advised amplitudes. 

Page 164, The water^ of the springs where, in the evening, 
falls the universal death of roses, was happy at the 
sight of us combing our tawny hair. 

A little of this water — our mirrors ! 

The foimtains were loud in the woods of moon- 
light and night; crystal in which is reflected and 
isolated some star fled from Heaven 



Six French Poets 

The water in our amphone is dried up. 

The stairways curve their balustrades . , . 
Oh, cold feet upon pavements I 
The doors and the high chambers for the naked 
sleep of Psyches . . . 

The oil is coagulated at the bottom of the lamps ! 


Mad Autumn exhausts its roses in garlands, pale 
like lips and smiles ; and the misery is to have lived 
among roses, masks, vanities, and deliriums ! 

From leather bottles, laughing ^gypans drank 
old wine in which the fire of Summer still lives ; vines 
puffed out the clear amber of their maturity, their 
bunches tell into the water, grape by grape. 

Roses decorated cups, ivy-twined staffs, and tho 
skirts of youthful dresses; in the shade, the souls 
of fountains wept; the vine-branches about the 
staffs seemed the blood of flaming torches. 

Mad Autumn exhausts itself in supreme garlands, 
red-haired satyrs prowl through the woods, empty 
masks are hung in garlands, and the wind laughs 
through the holes of their voiceless mouths. 


Appendix A 385 


Page 166, One evening, at the meeting of the roads in the 
forest — one evening, in the wind, with my shadow — 
one evening, weary of the cinders of altars and years, 
uncertain of the predestined hours, I sat down. 

The roads led toward days, and I could still go 
with them, and always toward places, waters, and 
dreams, until the day when Death, with magical 
and patient hands, should have closed my eyes with 
her peaceful and golden seal. 

Roads of tall oaks and solitude, your rough stone 
is difficult to weariness, your pebbles hard for tired 
feet, and at each step I should see the wounds of the 
past still bleeding; and your haughty oaks mutter 
in the harsh wind, and I am tired. 

Road of clear birches which shed their leaves and 
tremble, pale like the shame of your pale travellers 
who lose their way in your sticky mud-holes, and go 
together and turn away so as not to see one another 
face to face ; road of mud and oozing water, the wind 
whispers its lamentations to your leaves, the great 
silver marshes of moons and hoar-frost stagnate in 
the twilight at the ends of your tracks, and dullness 
takes those by the hand who would follow you. 

Road of smooth ash trees and of thin sands where 
the wind effaces the footsteps and desires one to 

386 Six French Poels 

forget and one wanders like a man strolliag from 
tree to tree, your honey flowers have the colour of 
the gold of the sands, your curve is such that one 
can hardly see where one turns, the town to which 
you lead is kind to strangers and my steps upon the 
thresholds of its doors would be pleasant, had they not 
remained along another life where my weeping Hopes 
watch dead Shadows. 

I will not go toward your oaks, nor beside your 
birches and ash trees, nor toward your sunshine, 
your towers, and your waters. roads; you, the 
easy — you, the shameful — you, the disdainful — 
and I listen to the wind, companion of my vain 
wanderings, who walks and weeps under the oaks. 

O my soul, evening hangs sadly over yesterday, 
my soul, evening hangs gloomily over to-monx>w, 
O my soul, evening hangs solemnly over you I 


fttje i6g. "I thought I saw my Sorrow standing under the 
willows. I thought I saw her — said she softly — 
standing near the gentle brooks of my thoughts, 
the same which, one whole evening, flowed past with 
the current, roses floating upon them, waifs from the 
bouquet of wounded hours. Time passes witl 
waters ; she thought with my thoughts so long that 
the bluish woods were mauve, then darker, and black." 


Appendix A 387 

I thought I saw my Sorrow — said he — and I 
did see her — said he softly — she was naked, sitting 
in the most silent grotto of my inmost thoughts; 
she was there, the gloomy dream of frozen waters, 
the anxiety of anxious stalactites, the weight of rocks 
as heavy as time, the pain of porphyries red Uke 
blood; she was there, silent, sitting in the depth 
of my silence. And naked as a person is who thinks 
to himself. 

Page 170. Ripe with shadows and dreams, in their skins where 
the juice is golden, the fruits of the past hang 
and fall, one by one, and one again, in the orchard 
of dream and shadow. 

The soft twilight fades, and revives from time to 
time on a pa!o ray of sunshine through the trees, and 
the moment comes when, one by one, tree by tree, 
the wind touches the beautiful fruits which swing 
and knock their wan, pale golds, and still tremble 
when the wind has passed and the darkness is quiet, 
and fall, one by one, and one again. 

Sorrow has ripened her fruits of shadow in the 
quiet orchards of our dreams, where the past sleeps, 
Etarts, and sleeps again, to the sound of ripe fruits 
falling through the forgetfulness of death, one by one, 
and one again. 

Six French Poets 

>. Sorrow, I have built your house, and the trees 
mingle their chequering with the stains of your 
marbles. Sorrow, I have built your green and black 
palace, where the yew oE mourning mingles with the 
myrtles of hope ; in the crystal panes of your win- 
dows are reflected the gardens with balustrades and 
waters whose exactness frames the sky ; the dismal 
echo converses with solitude who seeks herself among 
the cypresses ; farther off is silence and all the forest, 
the mde life, and the prowling wind, the lush grass 
on which is printed, according to what thing passes, 
an animal shoe in place of a divine foot ; farther off 
is the Satyr ; and still farther, the God of the Woods 
and the Nymph, who, naked, inhabits the solitary 
fountains where near the Thessalian waters the 
Centaur nicks the pebbles in kicking ; and then, grey 
sands after red sands, the monsters of Desire, the 
monsters of the Flesh, and beyond the arid beach is 
the Sea. Sorrow, I have buiit your house, and the 
trees have veined the crystals of your basuis like a 
marble ; the white swan sees its black shadow in the 
water, as pale Joy sees in the lake of memory her 
silver wings dimmed by twilight where her naked 
face from which she recoils makes signs to her across 
the forever that she is dead ; and I who have come 
in without shutting the door, I am afraid in the dark- 
ness of some hand on the key ; I walk from room to 
room, and I have veiled my dreams not to see myself 
in them any more; but beyond I still feel shadows 


Appendix A 


dogging my footsteps ; and the crystal which tinkles, 
and the watered silk which my perpetually- weary 
hand rubs up against, warn my anguish, for I hear 
in the hypocritical, sleeping chandelier the sound 
of silver water laughing in golden flowers, and the 
dripping of antique fountains where Narcissus drank, 
lips pressed to his own lips, for which the spring 
laughed at the ansious drinker; and I cursed my 
mouth, and I cursed my eyes, for having seen the 
warm skin and touched the cold water, and where 
my fingers still wrinkle the stiff stuff, I hear, out of 
my gossiping past which will not be still, the leaves 
and the wind of the old forest; and I walk among 
the sohtary rooms where someone speaks with an 
air of being silent, for my life has the eyes of a sister 
who is not dead, and I am afraid, when I enter, of 
seeing from the threshold of the door some laughing 
and ghostly monster come out of the shadow with 
the smell of the woods on his naked hide, some Faun 
who still has mud, and grass, and leaves, sticking to 
his resonant shoes, of seeing him dancing upon the 
polished floor and laughing to himself in the mirrors 1 


My heavy hammer rang in the Ught air ; I saw the 
river and the orchard, the field, and as far as the 
woods, growing bluer beneath the sky hour by hour, 
then rose and mauve in the twilight ; then I stood 
up straight and stretched myself, happy in the task 
of the hours, numb with having crouched from dawn 

Six French Poets 

till twilight before the block of marble upon whid I 
cut out the sides of the vase, still in its shell, that my 
ponderous hanuner struck, stressing the clear morn- 
ing and the good day, happy at being resonant in the 
light air. 

The vase took shape in the worked stone. Slender I 
and pure, it had grown larger, still unformed in iti I 
slendemess, and I waited, with idle and unquiet 
hands, for days, turning my head to the left, to the 
right, at the slightest sound, without polishing the 
belly or lifting the hammer. The water ran from the 
spring as though breathless. In the silence, I heard 
the fruits of the orchard trees falling, one by one, 
from branch to branch ; I breathed a heralding per- 
fume of distant flowers on the wind ; often I thought 
that someone spoke low, and one day that I dreamed 
— not sleeping — I heard, beyond the fields and tli» 
river, the playing of flutes. 

Still another day, between the ochre and gotA 
leaves of the woods, I saw a faun with shaggy yellow 
legs dancing; I caught sight of him also, another 
time, coming out of the wood, along the road, and 
sitting down upon a stump to take a butterfly from 
one of his horns. 

Another time, a centaur crossed the river swim- 
ming, the water streamed from his man's skin and 
his horse's coat ; he advanced a few steps into the 
reeds, snuffed the wind, whinneyed, and crossed back 


Appendix A 391 

over the water ; the next day 1 saw the prints of his 
hoofs stamped in the grass. 

Naked women passed carrying baskets and sheaves, 
very far off, quite at the other end of the plain. One 
morning I found three at the spring, and one of them 
spoke to me. She was naked. She said to me : 
" Carve the stone after the form of my body in your 
thoughts, and make my bright face smiie in the 
marble block ; listen all round you to the hours 
danced by my sisters, whose circle winds itself, 
interlaced, and revolves and sings and unwinds." 

And I felt her warm mouth upon my cheek. 

Then the vast orchard, and the woods, and the 
plain, shivered to a strange noise, and the spring 
ran faster with a laugh in its waters; the three 
Nymphs standing near the three reeds took one 
another by the hand and danced ; red<haired fauna 
came out of the wood in troupes, and voices sang 
beyond the trees of the orchard with flutes awake 
in the hght air. The ground echoed to the galop of 
centaurs ; they came from the depths of the resonant 
horizon, and one saw lame satyrs, stung by bees, 
sitting on the rushing cruppers, holding twisted staves 
and big-bellied leather bottles ; hairy mouths and 
vermiUion hps kissed each other, and the immense 
and frenzied circle — heavy hoofs, light feet, fleeces, 
cruppers, tunics — turned wildly about me, who, 
grave while it went on, carved on the rounded side 
of the vase the whirl of the forces of life. 

Six French Poets 

From the perfume seat out by the ripe earth, an 
intoxication mounted through my thoughts, and in 
the smell of fruits and crushed grapes, in the shock 
of hoofs and the stamping of heels, in the faDow 
odour of goats and stallions, under the breeze of the 
circle and the hjul of laughter, I carved upon the 
marble what I heard humming, and amidst the hot 
flesh and the warm exhalations, neighings of muz- 
zles or murmuriogs of hps, I felt, loving or savage, 
upon my hands, the breath of nostrils or the kisses of 

Twilight came and I turned my head. 

My intoxication was dead with the accomplished 
task; and upon its pedestal, at last, from foot to 
handles, the great vase stood up naked in the silence, 
and carved in a spiral about its living marble, the 
dispersed circle, of which a feeble wind brought the 
echo of the vanished noise, turned, with its goats, 
its gods, its naked women, its rearing centaure, and 
its nimble fauns, silently round the side, while I, 
alone for ever in the gloomy night, I cursed the dawn 
and wept toward the darkness. 


Page Ifg. High gate ! Never fear the darkness, leave open 
your door of hard bronze and your door of iron. They 
have thrown your keys into the dstem. Be forever 


Appendix A 393 

cursed if fear closes ycni ; and, as with a two-edged 
knife, cut the fist from every hand which would 
shut you ; for under your sombre arch which re- 
sounded to their footsteps, men have passed who do 
not draw back, and Victory still ready and panting 
walked in the midst of them, naked in her golden 
wii^, and guided them with the calm gesture of her 
sword; and her ardent purple kiss upon their lips 
bled, and the trumpets thrilled to the roses of their 
mouths, munnur of copper and of savage bees I 
Drunken swanii of war in hives of armour, go and 
pluck death upon the flower of ripe flesh ; and if you 
gome back to your native town, may one be able to 
trace when they shall have passed. Victory, under 
your wings, the mark of bright blood from their 
red soles on the marble stones of my threshold. 


'o. Be blessed, black portal, which we salute in enter- 
ing! The strong coffere are balanced on the backs 
of asses ; to display them in the courtyards we 
brought what one fashions by night, what one em- 
broiders by day, the bright pendant, and the woven 
stuff. The oldest among us carried a caduceus,* he 
was the scrupulous master of barters and traffics ; 
and the humpbacked gourd and strange pearls were 
mingled together in our dusty hands ; and each one, 
purveyor of provisions or merchant of perfumes, 
emptied his baskets and filled his wallet ; for every 

s the god of commerce, hence cf 


buyer gives way to the gesture which catches 
by the hem of his robe or the tail of his cloak. The 
smallest ones dimb on high stools, and the gentlest 
as well as the most crafty count and recount tbeir 
piles of gold as they leave ; and each one, — that 
the highwaymen on the watch for coin should not 
wait for him in the shadow of the hedges in the 
deserted road, Gatel that a god should give as 
rapid steps — each one, without looking at the one 
who follows him, nails a piece of copper upon your 
Stone sill. 

i8i. The chariot stops at the angle of my wall. The 
evening is fine, the sky is blue, the grain is ripe; 
about the fountain the Nymph turns and dances; 
the Faun laughs ; mysterious Summer brings back 
at its hour the wandering troop, and the old chariot, 
and those whose acting, by means of masks and 
paint, impersonates upon the trestle on which th^r 
naked feet rest, the popular fable or the ingenuous 
myth, and the divine, human, and monstrous story 
which, in the mirror of the fountain at the bottom 
of deep grottos, with bounds and cries and laughs, 
the silvery Dryad and the young Satyr take up again 
from ^e to age in the shade of the great woods. 
Cornel the moment is propitious and the crowd is 
silent; already expectation smiles in the bright 
eyes of children and gentle old men, and through 
my gate, which, for you, will open wide, hospitable 
and gay and heavy with garlands, I see you who 

Appendix A 395 

come, a rose in your hand, with your bright cloaks 
and your painted faces, and, smiling, each one before 
entering puts her foot up on the stone and laces her 


Page 182. I, the Keeper of the poop, and the Watcher at the 
prow, who have known the buffet of waves on my 
cheek, the wind shaking out her hair across the foam, 
the clear water of the amphora and the ashes of the 
urn, and, silent brilliance or vermillion flame, the 
torch which starts up or the lamp which watches, 
the stair of the palace or the threshold of the ruin, 
and the welcome of the eyes of dawn, and the esile 
of the eyes of darkness, and the love which smiles 
and the love which weeps, and the cloak without 
holes which the wind shreds to tatters, and the ripe 
fruit bleeding, and the head cut off at the movement 
of the bill-hook or the flight of the sword, and, 
vagrant of winds and courses and waves, of the 
marine race and the shock of gallops, I who keep 
always the noise and the murmur of the shepherd's 
hom and the rower's song, here am I, returned from 
great, distant countries of stone and of water, and 
always alone in my destiny and naked, still standing 
upright at the impetuous prow which snorts in the 
foam ; and I shall enter burnt with joy and the sun, 
rearing keel and spreading yard, with the great pale 
gold and bright silver birds, I shall enter by the Gate 
which opens on the Sea. 

396 Six French Poets 


Page 1S4. A little reed has sufBced me to make the tall grass 
rustk, and the whole meadow, and the gentle willows, 
and the singing brook as well ; a little reed has 
sufficed me to make the forest sing. 

Those who pass have heard it in the depths of the 

evening, in their thoughts, in the silence and in the 
wind, clear or lost, near or far . . . Those who pass 
listening to their thoughts in the depths of themselves 
will hear it still, and hear it always singing. 

It has sufficed me, this little reed gathered at the 
spring where Love comes sometimes to mirror his 
grave, weeping face, to make those who pass weep, 
and to make the grass tremble and the water rustle, 
and I have made the whole forest sing in the breath of 
a reed. 

ODE in 

I have known you, dear naked Shade, with your 
hair heavy with sunlight and pale gold, with your 
smihng mouth and your sweet flesh. From my most 
distant days beyond, you have come, at the ends 
of o!d roads of com and mosses, along meadows, 
beside woods, when I followed the path and the brook, 
happy in the clear brook and the fresh pathways, 
and in my hands, between my fingers, the Sower 
gathered in the thick grass was all damp with dew 
and trembling with the gold of a resting bee. At the 


Appendix A 397 

April season when the reeds sing of themselves at the 
slightest breeze, near waters and fountains, I knew 
you, once, sitting upon the threshold of the porch 
of Life and of Dream and of the Year — you, who, 
from the threshold, plaited coronals and watched the 
coming of dawn. 

I have seen you ^ain, dear naked Shade, with 
your hair reddened with ruddy gold, solemn with all 
the weight of its Autunm ; the old East wind weeps 
in the hedges, heavy with wandering, and with trail- 
ing wing i the vine loosens itself from the trurJi as 
it unwinds, and the earth crumbles from the slope 
which holds it ; Joy is brief, and the hour passes, and 
each one walks toward another which draws back, 
and the flower of dawn is the fruit of twihght, and the 
golden fruit of evening is ashes in the night. 

I saw you again, you were naked, as at the dawn 
when I came by the road of the com, I who return to 
you by the stubble road, with the trembling evening, 
and the steps of Autumn, to the echoes of my life 
when Spring was laughing ; what will you put in 
the hands which return holds out to you ? For I 
have lost the obolus, and the ring, and the key, and 
the flower crown of hope, from which 1 felt the rose 
and the laurel fall, petal by petal ; the opal is shat- 
tered in the unset ring, and again my voice hesitates 
to pray to you, for forever standing, finger on mouth, 
as though to listen to the echo of time which flies, 
your obstinate silerice, patient and austere, watches 
the darkness come and weeps to the night. 


Six French Poets 

Page IQO. I pretended that the Gods had spoken to me ; this 
one streaming with seaweed and water, this other 

weighed down with bunches of grapes and com, this 
other winged, wild and beautiful in his stature of 
naked flesh, and this one always veiled, and this other 
again, who picks heartsease and hemlock, singing, 
and who winds two twisting serpents about his goldeo 
Etaff, others still . . . 

Then I said : Here are flutes and baskets, let us 
eat fruits; let us listen to the singing of the bees 
and the humble sound of osiers being plaited or reeds 
being cut. 

Agfun t said : Listen, listen, there is £Oine one 
behind the echo, standing upright amid the universal 
life, who carries the double bow and the double torch, 
and who is ourselves divinely . , . 

Invisible face I I have engraved you upon medals 
of silver, mellow like the pale dawn ; of gold, bias- 
ing like the sun ; of bronze, dark like night ; I have 
them of every metal, those which sing clear like joy, 
those which toll heavily like glory, like love, like 
death; and I have made the most beautiful of linB 
clay, dry and fragile. 


One by one, you counted them, smiling, and you 
B^d : He is clever ; and you passed on, smiling. 

Appendix A 

Not one of you saw that my hands trembled with 
tenderness, that the whole great terrestrial dream 
lived in me to live in them, that I engraved upon 
the sacred metals my Gods, and that they were 
the living face of what we have felt in roses, in water, 
in wind, in the forest and the sea, in everything, in 
our own flesh, and that they are divinely ourselves. 


!. Spinner I The shadow is warm and bluish. A 
bee buzzes heavily in the sleeping sunlight, and your 
wheel mingles with this golden and winged humming 
which slows up little by little, and sleeps. It is late. 
It is evening. The grapes hang on the trellis, their 
clusters are ripe for the swarm which sucks at them, 
but to gather them to-morrow, before dawn comes 
and the cock wakes up, I must round with my palm 
and fashion with my hands in the obedient and soft 
clay this amphora which swells between my indis- 
tinct hands, while my labour hears all about it your 
wheel imitating the harsh buzzing of some invisible 
wasp loose in the night. 


Page iflj. I hear the sea murmur in the distance when the 
wind in the pines, often, brings its harsh and bitter 
sound, which stuns, coos, or whistles, through the 
pines, red against the clear sky . . . 

Six French Poets 

into tfae ear, tt>e& to ncoO crm raofe soCtljr into tfcc 
depths of tbe twiUebt, and tbeo it IB sOent £or days 
M thon^ «l**r™g with the wind, and I forget it . . . 
bnt one luOiiiiiig it begiui agsm inu tfae Auige sod 
tfae tide, louder, more despcnte, and I hear it. 

It is a sound of water which snSers and scolds and 
laments behind the trees without our seeing it, cabn 
or foaming, according to whether the sunset blecdl 
or blushes, dies blazing, or fades coolly away . . , 

Without the great murmur which grows or « 
and roUs or rocks my hours, each one, and my thoo^ts 
— without it, this crude and crad^d country wfaitdi 
here and there swells and humps up a yellow hiUodc 
where roses grow with sparse, sickly Sowers which 
hang down — without it, this bitter and moroee 
place, where I can only see a forlorn horizon of soli- 
tude and silence, would be too sad for my thoo^t. 

For I am alone, you see. All of Life still calls 
me to its past which laughs and cries by a thousand 
eloquent mouths, behind me, over there, with hands 
stretched out, standing upright and naked ; and 1, 
lying upon the ground which is so hard to my bleed- 
ing nails, I have only a little clay to carve my quiv^- 
ing dream and make it eternal — nothing else to 
fashion my melodious medals in the ochrous glaze of 
which I know how to make the full face of shadow or 
the profile of light, Sorrow smile or Beauty weep , . . 


Appendix A 

But in my soul afar, love mutters forever like the 
sea, over there, behind the red pines. 


He is booted in leather and cuirassed with bronze. 
He stands upright in the smoke, and over his hip 
floats the knot of the white scarf from which his 
sword hangs. His glove is crumpled up by the ges- 
ture of his hand. 

His foot rests upon the hillock where in the black 
background the flaming grenade opens a red gash, 
and the flash of the cannon empurples his rude and 
fresh Burgundian face with the horsehair wig. 

All about him, everywhere, confused and micro- 
Gcopic, the fight goes on, hesitates, shifts, holds its 
ground — skirmishes, m616e and carnage and noble 

And the naive painter who enlarged his size, was 
no doubt praised in those days for having made his 
hero, all by himself, larger than the battle. 

Page ig6. With her paroquet, her dog, and her negress, who 
holds out her dressing-gown and dries the water of 
the bath on her body which, whiter under the black 
hand, bends its suppleness where the throat rises, 

Six French Poets 

She has caused to be piunted also, to show her 
tenderness, for libertine humour, or jesting caprice, 
the life-like portrait of her African monkey, who 
crunches a nutmeg and scratches his buttock. 

Very grave, nearly a man and slyly a monkey, 
hairy, bald, attentive, he picks his nut, and looks all 
about, sitting up; 

And his bare, snub-nosed face in which the eyes 
move sneeringly, contracts in a grimace, and wrinkles 
up his green and yellow turban in which a red plume 


In his calm manor, between the Tille and the 
Ouche, in the country of Burgundy where the vine 
flourishes, he has lived tranquil like a ripened grape. 
For him wine has flowed from uncorked bottles. 

Friend of nature and particular of palate, he courted 
his muse, and left in writing, poems, madrigals, 
epistles, pot-pourri, and dusty parchments to bear 

witness to his stock. 

If he walked in the street in Dijon in his horse- 
hair periwig, leaning on his malacca cane, the EHte 
of the town and the members of Parhament 

Appendix A 403 

Saluted Monsieur le Chevalier from a distance, 
less for his name, his fields, his vine, and his planta- 
tion, than for having received three letters from 


Page igS. The garden laughs to the river and the river sighs 
with the eternal regret of his bank which he is leav- 
ing, the wistaria hangs down and leans toward him, 
the lilac is reflected and the jasmin is mirrored 

The bindweed darts forward and the ivy stretches 
out ; a new-sprouted bud is a flower to-day ; helio- 
trope perfumes the darkness, and each night another 
lily half opens for dawn to admire it ; 

And in the house, bright with tapestries, a flowered 
porcelain clock outlines its rockwork where Love 
decorates himself with garlands, 

And the whole fresh nosegay with which the garden 
honours itself, survives in the old Saxe where time 
for offering has grafted the silver flower of its clear 

404 Six French Poets 


Page igg. Whose soul is sad and who brings to Autumn his 
heart still glowing with the ashes of Summer, he is 
the sceptreless Prince and the uncrowned King of 
your solitude and your beauty. 

For what he seeks in you, O gardens of ^oice, under 
your sombre shade where the sound of his footsteps 
pursues in vain the echo which always outruns it, 
what he seeks in your shade, O gardens, is not 

The secret murmur of the illustrious fame with 
which the century has filled your always beautiful 
groves, Qor some vain glory leaning upon a balustrade, 
nor some yoimg grace beside the clear waters ; 

He does not ask to have pass or return the immortal 
hero or the famous man of to-day whose proud life, 
striking and disdainful, was the star and the sun of 
this august place. 

What he desires is calm, is solitude, the perspective 
of alley and stairway, the rond-point, the parterre, 
and the effect of the pyramidal yew next the clipped 

The taciturn grandeur and the monotonous peace 
of this melancholy and unrivalled spot, and this 
perfume of evening and this smell of Autumn which 
breathes out of the shade at the end of the day. 

Appendix A 405 


Glorious, manumeiital and monotonous, the stone 
fagade exhausts its crumbling cornice and its weary 
garland in the passing wind, opposite the yellow park 
over which Autumn is leaning. 

On the marble medallion with which Pallas crowns 
it, the double letter still twines and interlaces ; Her- 
cules tires himself supporting the balcony ; the fieur 
de lys drop their petals for Time to harvest. 

Reflected in its deserted basins, the old Palace 
watches naked Solitude and the sleeping Past crouch 
in black and green bronze ; 

But the sun flaming in the golden window-panes, 
seems each evening to light again within it the spark 
of its benumbed Glory. 


Her bronze, which was flesh, lifts her up in the 
green water. Goddess once so sorrowful at being 
a statue ; the moss little by little is covering your 
naked shoulder, and the silent um hangs heavily 
from your stiffened hand ; 

The stagnant water perfidiously mirrors the shadow 
that everything in it has become, and its fluid mirror 
in which a nude is stretched out imitates inversely 
a sky which it parodies. 


Six French Poets 

The grass, perpetually green, is like a blue-green 
basin. It is the same square of equivocal § 
with which marble or box frames grass or water. 

And watch, in the emerald-green water and tbe ' 
emerald grass, turn by turn, move about in rival 
golds, the dead yellow leaf and the prowling caip. 


The calm, sleeping water in its slumbering trouble, 
overflows and rests in the porphyry basin and id 
the weeping fountain, and its greenish-blue pallors 
reflect the cypress and reflect the rose. 

The God and the Goddess stand opposite each 
other, smiling ; one holds the sceptre and the bow, 
the other the urn and the flowers, and in the alley 
between, joining his shadow to theirs, Love stands 
upright and naked, and interposes himself. 

The grass slope borders the clear canal ; the j 
mirrors its mass, the holly its green cone, and the | 
obelisk alternates with the pyramid; 

A Dragon faces his enemy the Hydra, and both of I 
them, from the clammy holes of their wet t 
spit out a silver jet upon the sleeping Nymph. 





Appendix A 


The basket, the shepherd's pouch, and the ribbon 
knotting the double flute and the straight shepherd's 
crook ; the oval medallion where the narrow mould- 
ing frames a grey profile in the whiter panel ; 

The hurrying mantle-clock and the tall clock with 
slow steps, where Time, turn by turn, contradicts 
itself and limps ; the weary mirror which seems a 
moist and shining water; the half -open door, and 
tiie fluttering curtain ; 

Some one who has gone, some one who will come, 
Memory sleeping with Recollection, an approach 
which delays and dates from an absence ; 

A window open upon the bitter smell of box, and 
upon roses from which the wind swings the crystal 
chandeUer above the shining wood floor. 


Before the harsh wind exiles the birds, disperses 
the leaves and dries up the reeds where I used to cut 
my arrows and my flutes, I wish, sitting on this sill 
which is framed by the wild vine, to see again, with 
my eyes already half closed over the days which, 
one by one, we have loved, the Face which the year 
flying, month by month, turns away smiling from the 
shadow which was I. 

Six French Poets 

September, September, gatherer of fruits, stripper 
of hemp, in the clear mornings, in the red evenings, 
you appear to me, upright and beautiful, against 
the gold of the forest leaves, beside the water, in 
your dress of mist and silk, with your hair reddening 
with gold, copper, blood, and amber. September, 
with the fat goatskiii bottle loaded on your shoulder, 
hanging heavily and oozing at its vermilion seams 
about which the last bees buzz. 

September I The new wine ferments, and foams 
from the cask into the pitchers; the cellar smells 
sweet, the granary sags ; the sheaf of Summer gives 
way to the wme-stock of Autumn; the grindstone 
ghstens with the olives which it crushes. You, 
Lord of the wine-presses, of hay-ricks and of hives, 
September, sung by all the fountains, listen to the 
voice of the poem. The evening b cold, the shadow 
lengthens from the forest, and the sun goes down 
behind the great oaks. 


). I went to Monsieur Lay's, the teacher's. My 
alphabet was like the flowers. I remember the 
stove and the log of wood that each village child 
brought when the sky is a white beehive, and when 
on waktiig up one says : "It has been snowing I" 

I remember also the gaiety of my apron, on ripe J 
Summer days when I left school somewhat earlitf, J 

Appendix A 409 

A little, little fellow, I still had Heaven within my 
eyes like a drop of water through which one could 
see God. 

Page 220. . . . The sight of the monkey being shot is always 
with me, you tmderstand. 

Page 220, Water, foliage, air, sand, roots, flowers, grass- 
hoppers, earthworms, kingfishers, mist falling upon 
a radish field, vine tendrils on the weaver's roof : O 
gentle genie, who had made me their slave I You 
amused me. I so little, you so great ! 

Page 222, Oh, Father of my Father, you were there, before 
my soul which was not bom, and the advice-boats 
slipped by with the wind in the Colonial night. 

Page 222, ... At the foot of a blue guava tree, amid the 
cries of the Ocean and the beach birds. 

YOU WROTE . . . 

Page 222, You wrote that you htmted wood-pigeons in the 
Guava woods, and, a little before your death, the 
doctor who took care of you wrote about your sober 

"He lives," said he, "like a native, in his woods." 
You are the father of my father. Your old corre- 
spondence is in my drawer and your life is pungent. 

410 Six French Poets 

You left Orthez as a doctor of mediciiie, to 
your fortune far away. Your letters were brou^it 
by a sailor, by Captain Folat. 

You were ruined by earthquakes in the countrf 
where rain-water is caught in tubs and drunk, heavy, 
unhealthy, bitter . . . And all that, you wrote. 

And you bought an apothecary's shop. Yoa 
wrote: "The capital has nothing like it." And 
you said: "My life has made me a real Creole." 

You are buried there, I think, in Guava. And 
I am writing in the place where you were bom : your 
old correspondence is very sad and grave. It is in 

my chest of drawers, locked up. 

Page 226. Oh, Jammes, your house is like your face, 
beard of ivy dimbs up it, a pine-tree shades it, eb 
nally young and spirited like your heart. 


Page 227. The house should be full of roses and wasps. In the 
afternoon one would hear the ringing of vespers 
the transparent-stone-coloured grapes would seem to 
sleep in the sunshine under the slow shadow. How I 
should love you there ! I give you my whole heart 
which is twenty-four years old, and my 

Appendix A 411 

spirit, my pride, and my poetry of white roses ; and 
yet I do not know you, you do not exist. I only 
know that if you were living, and if you were at the 
bottom of this meadow, as I am, we would kiss each 
other, lauEhing under the white bees, near the cool 
brook, under the thick leaves. We should hear 
nothing but the heat of the sunshine. You would 
have the shadow of the hazels on yoiu' ear, then we 
would join our mouths and stop laughing, to tell our 
love which cannot be said ; and I should find upon the 
red of your lips, the taste of white grapes, of red roses, 
and of wasps. 


Page 228. There is a cupboard, not very shiny, which has 
beard the voices of my great-aunts, which has heard 
the voice of my grandfather, which has heard the voice 
of my father. The cupboard is faithful to these 
memories. One is wrong in thinking that it only 
knows how to be silent, for I talk with it. 

There is also a wooden cuckoo-clock. I do not know 
why it has no voice any more. I do not like to ask it. 
Perhaps, indeed, it is broken — the voice which was in 
its spring — for good, like that of a dead person. 

There is also an old sideboard which smells of wax, 
preserves, meat, bread, and ripe pears. It is a faith- 
ful servant which knows that it ought not to steal 
anything from us. 

Six French Poets 

Many men and women have come to my house Vho 
do not believe in these little souls. And I smile when 
a visitor, thinking that I am the only living thing, 
says to me as he comes in : " How are you, Monsieur 

Jammes? " 


Page 230. I write in an old kiosk, so bushy that it is damp, and 
like a Chinaman, I listen to the water of the pool and 
the voice of a bird — there, hear the water -(sh 1) 

fall. I am going to Ught my pipe. This is it. I level 
the ashes. Then memory gently descends in poetic 

"7 have come too late into too old a world," and I am 
bored, I am bored at not being present at a circle ot 
little girls with great wide hats. 

"Cora, you will get the bottom of your pantalets 
dirty if you touch that wretched dog." That is what 
little girls of fashion would have said on an evening 
of the olden time. 

They would have looked at me, smiling, as I slowly 
smoked my pipe, and my little niece would have said, 
gravely : "He is going in to write verses now;" 


And her little companions, without underetanding, 
would have stopped the charming chatter of tlieir 

Appendix A 413 

circle for a moment, believing that verses were going 
to be seen — perhaps. 

"He has been to Touggourt, my dear," the circle 
of older scholars would have said. And Nancy would 
have annotmced: "There are savages and drome- 

Then, I should have seen issue upon the road the 
caracoling of the donkeys of many gentlemen and 
many ladies coming back, in the evening, from a ride. 

My heart, my heart, is it only in death that you 
will find again this immense love for those whom you 
have not known in those tender and deceased days? 


Page 233. In the month of March (the Ram T), one sows 
clover, carrots, cabbages, and lucerne. One stops 
harrowing, and one puts manure at the foot of the 
trees, and one prepares the beds. One finishes the 
pnming of the vines, and after having ventilated 
them, one puts the poles in place. 

It is the end of Winter rations for the beasts. 
Heifers with beautiful eyes and whose mothers lick 
them, are no longer led to the fields, but are given 
fresh nourishment. The days increase by one hour 
and fifty minutes. The evenings are sweet, and, at 
twilight, straggling goatherds puff their cheeks out 

414 Six French Poets 

over flutes. Goats pass in front of the good dog, 
who ws^ his tail and is their guardian. 

Page 3J3. At last the beautiful Palm Sunday comes. When 
I was a child, they attached some cakes to me, and I 
went to vespers, docile and sad. My mother said : 
" In my country there were olives . . . Jesus wept in 
an olive garden . . . They went, with great pomp, 
to seek for him ... In Jerusalem, people wept, 
calling his name ... He was gentle like the sfcj-, 
and his little ass-foal trotted joyously over the strewn 
palms. Embittered beggars sobbed for joy as they 
followed him, because they had faith . . . Bad 
women became good, seeing him pass with his halo, 
BO beautiful that one believed it to be the sun. He 
had a smile and hair of honey. He raised the 
dead . . . They crucified him ..." I remember 
this childhood and the vespers, and I weep, my throat 
convulsed at being no more the very little boy in the 
old months of March, at being no more in the old 
village church where I carried the incense in the pro- 
cession and where I listened to the priest repeating the 

Page 234. You will find it pleasant, in the month of March, 
to walk over the black violets with your mistress. la 
the shade you will find the milk-blue periwinkles, be- 
loved of Jean- Jacques, the sad, passionate man. 

In the woods you will find lungwort, with its violet 
and wine-coloured flower, the leaves verdigris, spotted 

Appendix A 


with white, hairy and very rough ; there is a holy 
legend about it. The cardamine to which the saffron 
butterfly comes; the light crowfoot and the black 
hellebore; the hyacinth which one crushes easily, 
and which, crushed, has sticky brightnesses ; the evil- 
smelling jonquil, the anemone and the narcissus 
which makes one think of the rocks of Switzerland; 
then the ground-ivy, good for asthmatics. 

Page 235. These are the laboure ot man which are great : the 
one which puts the milk into the wooden jars ; the one 
which picks the sharp and upright ears of com ; the 
one which watches the cows close to the fresh alders ; 
the one which bleeds the forest birches; the one 
which plaits osiers near quick brooks ; the one which 
repairs old shoes near a dim chimney -comer, with its 
old mangy cat, a sleeping blackbird, and happy chil- 
dren ; the one which weaves and makes a returning 
noise, when at midnight the crickets sing piercingly ; 
the one which makes bread ; the one which makes 
wine ; the one which sows garlic and cabbage in the 
garden ; and the one which gathers warm eggs. 

Page 2j6. The village at noon. The golden fly buzzes be- 
tween the horns of the osen. We will wander, if you 
like, if you like, in the monotonous country. 

Hear the cock . . . Hear the bell . . , Hear the 
peacock . . . Hear, over there, over there, the 

4l6 Six French Poets 

donkey . . . Tbc black swallow scare. 
ia the distance roll out like a ribbon. 

The well eaten up with moss ! Listen to its pulley, 
grating, grating again, for the girl with the golden 
hair holds the old black bucket from which the silver 
falls like rain. 

The young girl walks away with a step which makes 
the pitcher lean sideways on her golden head, her head 
like a hive, which mingles with the sunshine tmder 
the flowers of a peach-tree. 

And in the town, see how the black roofs shoot blue 
flakes at the blue sky ; and the lazy trees at the quiver- 
ing horizon scarcely sway. 


Page 2jp. Listen, in the garden which smells of chervil, listen 
to the bulfinch singing in the peach-tree. 

His song is like the clear water in which the air 
bathes itself, trembliog. 

My heart is sad unto death, even though many 
have been, and one is, mad about it. 

The first is dead. The second is dead ; - 
don't know where another is. 

Appendix A 417 

There is one, however, who is as sweet as the 
moon • • • 

I am going to see her this afternoon. We will take 
a walk in a town . . . 

Will it be in the bright quarter of rich villas, of 
strange gardens? 

Roses and laurels, railings, shut gates, have an air 
of knowing something. 

Ah, if I were rich, that is where I should live with 

IcallherAmaryllia. Is it silly? No, it is not silly. 
I am a poet. 

Do you imagine it is amusing to be a poet at twenty- 

In my purse I have ten francs and two sous for my 
powder. It is annoying. 

I conclude from that that Amaryllia loves me, and 
loves me for m3rself alone. 

Neither the Mercure nor VErmitage pay me wages. 

4l8 Six French Poets 

She is really very nice, Amaryllia, and as inteUigeot 
as I. 

Fifty francs are lacking to our happiness. One 
caimot have everything — and the heart. 

Perhaps if Rothschild said to her : " Come along . 
She vould answer him : 

"No, you shall not have my little dress, because I 
love another . . ." 

And if Rothschild said to her: "What is the n 
of this ... of this ... of this . . . poet ? " 

She would say to him: "It is Francis Ji 
But the sad thing about all that would be : 

That I do not think that Rothschild would know 
who that poet was. 


Page 343. When the time for going to you will have come, O 
my God, let it be on a day when the countryside is 
dusty with a festival. I wish, just as I do here, to 
choose the road and go as I please to Paradise, where 
there are stars in broad daylight. I will take my stick 
and I will go along the high road, and I will say to the 
donkeys, my friends: "I am Francis Jammes and I 
am going to Paradise, because there is no ! 


Appendix A 


country of the Good God." I will say to them: 
" Come, gentle friends of the blue sky, poor, dear 
animals, who, with a sudden movement of the ears, 
drive away silver flies, blows, and bees . . ." 

Grant that I appear before you in the midst of these 
animals that I love so much ; because they hang their 
heads gently, and when they stop put their little feet 
together in a very sweet and pitiful way. I shall ar- 
rive followed by their millions of ears, followed by 
those who carry baskets on their flanks, by those who 
draw the acrobats' carts or carts of feather-dusters 
and tin ware, by those who have dented cans on their 
backs, she-asses full like gourds, with halting steps, 
and those on whom they put httle pantaloons because 
of the blue and running sores which the obstinate flies 
make, sticking in circles. My God, grant that I come 
to you with these asses. Grant that angels conduct us 
in peace to tufted streams, where glossy cherry-trees 
quiver like the laughing flesh of young girls, and grant 
that, leaning over your divine waters in this place of 
souls, I become like the donkeys who mirror their 
humble and gentle poverty in the clearness of eternal 

Page 243. It is a watch-dog barking to the moonlight, as its 
shadow moves over the roses. 

Page 243. We awaited it at that red hour when noon-day bal- 
anced its blue wings over country belfries. 

Six French Poets 


Page 24$. The pointed houses have the appearance of leaning 
over. One would say that they were falling. The 
masts of the ships confused against the sky, are beat 
over like dry branches in the midst of green, of red, 
of rust, of red herrings, of sheepskins, and of coal. 

Robinson Crusoe passed through Amsterdam (at 
least I believe he did), coming back from the shady 
and green island of fresh cocoanuts. What an emo- 
tion he must have had when he saw the enormous 
doors of the town, with their heavy knockers, shining. 

Did he look curiously at the entresob where clerks 
were writing in account books? Did he feel like 
weeping when he thought of his dear parrot, of his 
heavy parasol, which sheltered him in the sorrowful 
and clement island ? 

"Blessed be thou, O Eternal One," he cried to him- 
self, before the chests brightly painted with tulips. 
But his heart, saddened by the joy of return, regretted 
bis goat, who remained all alone among the vines of 
the island, and was dead perhaps. 


And I thought of this in front of the big ^ 
where one dreams of Jews touching the scales with 
bony fingers encircled by green rings. See ! Am- 
sterdam sleeps under the eyelids of the soow in a per- 
fume of fog and acrid charcoal. 

Appendix A 421 

Yesterday evening the lit white globes of the cheap 
saloons from which you hear the wheezing entreaties 
of heavy women, hung like fruits which resemble 
gourds. Blue, red, green, the posters glittered. The 
sharp prickling of sugared beer has rasped my tongue 
and made my nose itch. 

And in the Jewish quarters where the residue is, 
one smelt the raw cold odour of fish. On the sticky 
pavements was orange peel. A bloated head opened 
its eyes wide, and onions were shaken from a disputing 

Rebecca, at little tables you sold perspiring bonbons, 
wretchedly arranged. 

One would have said that the sky, like a dirty sea, 
emptied clouds of waves into the canals. A smoke 
which one does not see, the commercial calm, rose 
from the wealthy roofs in imposing layers, and one 
breathed India in the comfort of the houses. 

Ah, I should like to have been a great merchant, of 
those who used to go from Amsterdam to China, con- 
fiding the administration of their houses to faithful 
proxies. Like Robinson, I would have signed my 
power of attorney pompously before a notary. 

Then, my integrity would have made my fortune. 
My business would have flourished like a moonbeam 

Six French Poets 

upon the imposing prow of my barrelled ship. In my 
cabin I should have received the nobles of Bombay, 
who would have tempted my buxom wife. 

Smiling under hU great parasol, a negro with gold 
earrii^ come from the Great Mogul to trade I His 
wild tales would have enchanted my slender eldest 
daughter, to whom he would have oSered a dress with 
rubies, spun by his slaves. 

I should have had the portraits of my family painted 
by some clever painter whose lot had been unfortu- 
nate: my beautiful and portly wife with fair, pink 
cheeks, my sons whose beauty would have charmed 
the town, and the varying and pure grace of my 

So that to-day, instead of being myself, I should 
have been some one else, and I should have visited 
the imposing house of these past centuries, and, dream- 
ing, I should have let my soul float before these simple 
words : there lived Francis Jammes. 


Page 24s. Madame de Warens, you watched the storm wrin- 
kling the gloomy trees of the melancholy Charmettts, 
or else you played shrilly upon the spinet, O sensible 
woman who lectured Jean-Jacques ! 


It was an evening like this, perhaps . 
was blasted by black thunder . . . 

The sky 
smell of 

Appendix A 423 

branches cut before the rain rose motimfully from 
the box borders . . . 

And I saw again, pouting, at your knees, in his 
little coat, the boy poet and philosopher . . . But 
what was the matter with him ? . . . Why, weeping 
to the rose-coloured stmsets, did he look at the swing- 
ing of the magpies' nests ? 

Oh ! how often he implored you, from the bottom 
of his sotd, to put a curb upon those exaggerated 
spendings which you indulged in with that frivolity 
which is, alas! the characteristic of the majority of 

But you, witty as well as gentle and tender, you 
said to him : '' Look at him ! the little philosopher ! '' 
Or else you pursued him with some pink drug with 
which you would powder his wig, laughing. 

Peaceful sanctuaries! Peaceful years! Peaceful 
retreats! Fresh alder whistles blew among the 
beeches . . . Yellow honeysuckle framed the win- 
dow . . . Sometimes one received the visit of a 
priest . . . 

Madame de Warens, you had a fancy for this boy 
with the slightly mischievous face, lacking in repartee, 
but not at all stupid, and above all, clever at copying 
music according to the rules. 

Six French Poets 

Ah ! how you should have wept, inconstant woman, 
when, abandoning him, he was obliged to go back, 
ftlone, with his poor little bundle on his shoulders. 
through the fir-trees of the waterfalls. 

I. I want no other joy, when Summer returns, than 
that of the past year. I will sit down under the sleep- 
ing grape vines. In the depth of the woods there is a 
singing of fresh water, and there I shall hear, I shall 
feel, I shall see, everything which the forest hears. 

I want no other joy when Autumn returns, than that 
of yellow leaves scraping the hillsides where it thun- 
ders, than the rumbling sound of new wine in the casks, 
than heavy skies, than cows jangling their bells, thaji 
beggars asking an alms. 

I want no other joy when Winter returns, than that 
of iron skies, than the smoke-wreaths of cranes grating 
in the air, than firebrands singing like the sea, and 
than the lamp behind the green squares of window- 
glass in the shop where the bread is bitter. 

When Spring returns, I want no other joy than 
that of the piercing wind, than the flowering of leaf- 
less peach-trees, than muddy and green paths, than 
the violet, and the singing bird gorging himself like ' 
a stonn-swoUen brook. 


Appendix A 425 

Page 252, Like a smoking and woolly flock, the sky travelled 
under the rainy wind. The rain glistened on the 
blue slates. Near the gate an ox-cart squeaked. A 
cock pecked a cock. And on the old wooden bench, 
Jean de Noarrieu yawned. 

One heard the servant moving about. The hearth, 
dim and red, blazed up brighter under the shining 

Near the black chest, greasy with age, it lit up the 
smooth-bellied gourd, and the sheep-dog stretched 
himself, yawning. 

Twelve o'clock struck. The fat in the saucepan 
spurted up. And Lucie carefully broke two hen's 
eggs with brown shells against the tall andiron, and 
one saw, pufiBng up beside the white fat, the eggs 
which sputtered and leapt about. 

Page 252, On the dresser are beautiful plates upon which are 
painted birds ornamented with aigrettes, yellow fruits 
and violet flowers. The silver in the wicker basket 
jingles brightly as Lucie touches it. She changes the 
plate and smiles at her master. 

Page 2S3' And blossoming Easter comes. Halleluia I Oh I 
Sweet festival ! Harmoniums grumble in the hearts 
of the churches. Halleluia 1 Gilded is the green 

426 Six French Poets 

of the shining meadotrs. Crickets sing. Halleluia I 
Lilacs glisten in the blue night. 

On a. blessed and soft evening, Halleluia ! — of a 
sudden one hears the lilacs questioning the stai^. 
It was, it was, it was, Halleluia! the nightingale, 
the moon drips, the nightingale all in flowers- 
Halleluia I 

Be bom again, Nature. Oh ! See the wild cherry- 
tree all white in the garden. Halleluia ! The heart 
bursts open . . . 

Page 2S3- They cross the frail bridge over the torrent of a 
little, old, whirling mill, all compounded of moss and 
silver laughter ; a torrent as pretty as though it were 
in a novel, fall of water-cress and quivering sunlight 
and pebbles rolling over pebbles. 

It leaps back. They see and they hear the sparkling 
shiver with which the running water twinkles. The 
wheel, covered with transparent moss, streams and 
glitters, as in the Spring some emerald and silver val- 
ley glitters in a blue cleft of the laughing Bigorrcs. 

Page 2S4- It was the July dog-days : the tops of the ears of the 
Indian com were silver, and their stamens were drying 
up. The circular sweep of the scythe, with its rake 
attached, with which one levels the com, sounded in 

the quivering sunshine. 

Appendix A 427 

The scythe, which makes a sharp wailing noise, 
shaved the com and the white bindweed, the purple 
loosestrife and the winged thistle. In the fields, the 
heat made the hollow, sharp, rotmd, and breaking 
straw crackle. And exploded the grating cicada. 

Its cry took fire, suddenly, like powder, going on 
from tree to tree, and at the hour of the siesta when 
nothing is moving, the whole blue plain, curved over 
the reddish-brown com, made the whistling that a 
child makes through his teeth to excite a dog on the 

Except for this excruciating sound, everything was 

Page 255. Outside, the night cups the clear moon. The trees 
have a denser shade, a shade so dense that one would 
say that they had the shade of the day in them, and 
that this shade had retired into them to sleep tmtil 

What silence of love, only intennpted by the chirp- 
ing of a toad under one of the stone steps ! . . . The 
moon is rising through the catalpa tree. One can 
distinguish its continents, eaten into by light, where 
dreams are sleeping. 

The garden prays. One feels the hearts of the 
peaches beating in the silence of God. They are 

428 Six French Poets 

downed like the lustre of the shining c 

dancers, who, in Lamns, display themselves in sloir,l 

lazy dances. 

The Emits weigh more at night. Night seems to! 
lean on the fruits. They bend to each other like Jean I 
and Lucie. One loves, trembling. Kisses end more I 
slowly, like those round wrinkles which the wind I 
starts and stills on the water. 

One by one, the stars r 

And Jea 

L sees them 

sparkle, white, yellow, and pure, in the centre of the 
dark windows. To the Southward, swollen storm 
clouds creep slowly along, sometimes passing over the 
moon, then leaving her bare. 

Page 557. How exactly parallel all the shops are ! All little 
towns are alike. Right: Grocery. Left: Dye 
Shop. Right : Police Station. Left ; Apothecary 
Shop. Right r Inn. Left : Leather Worker's. 
Right : Lawyer. Left : Doctor. Then ten or twelve 
niiddleclass houses, with gardens full of blue folia^ 
and hollyhocks and the shining and rose-coloured 
heat of light. Over there? That is the Town Hall 
and its lightning-rod, and the four-cornered square, 
with elms and chains . . . 

Page 2$ J. How beautiful the night is over the little town I 
Eleven blue hours! In the dimness of the moonlight, 
the tulip-tree of this garden is even softer than the 
line of silver hills in the distance. Bright moonhghtl 


Appendix A 


It is so beautiful and bright, one wonders why one does 
not live at night, like the hares. No one in the street. 
A cricket chirps. A cat coughs, probably he has the 
croup. I should like not to go to bed, to stretch out 
in a field, and swim in this blue light. 

Page 261. The peace ot the fields eirtends all about the chapel. 
And at the dusty crossroads, in the midst of oats, 
mint, chicory and agrimony, stands a great Christ 
of hollow wood, in which the bees have made their 
nest. And one can see these busy creatures, full of 
honey, go and come like black letters written upon 
the sky. 

With what shall one nourish one's God if not with 
honey 7 Sometimes the road-mender, breaking stones, 
raises his head and sees the Christ, the only friend he 
has on this road where midday throbs. To break 
the stones, the workman kneels in the shadow of this 
Christ whose flank is crimson. And then all the 
honey sings in the sunshine. 

The poet looks and meditates. He tells himself, 
before the slow quivering of the fields, that to be vivi- 
fied each blade waited for water to be sent forth from 
the grottoes of Heaven. He tells himself that hence- 
forward this grain will glow in the precious azure 
which everything deepens, and that the image of the 
Son of God, he too bom in a grotto, will nourish those 
who are hungry. And the ear, which in its turn will 
be bora of this grain, will be shaped like a belfry at 

430 Six French Poets 


Page g62. The child is reading the almanac, dose to her basket 
of eggs. And apart from the Saints, and the vreather 
it will be, she can contemplate the beautiful signs of 
the heavens: The Goat, The Bull, The Ram, The 

Fishes, et cffitera. 

Thus this little peasant girl can believe that, above 
her in the constellations, there are the same markets, 
with asses, bulls, rams, goats, and fishes. 

It is the market of Heaven about which she is read- 
ing, no doubt. And when the page turns at the sign 
of The Scales, she says to herself that in Heaven, as 
in the grocer's shop, they- weigh coffee, salt, and coo- 

For a farmer's daughter was being married. 

How light the wind is 1 It lifts up the vine . 
Stay so, my Dear, in this soft wakefulness . . . 
looked at your arms a little while ago, when you were 
haymaking . , . They know, innocently, how to 
fold themselves to yoiu" heart. What emotion i 
which, when I touch your eyes, prevents me from 
thinking of anything but them? What sentiment 
is it which, when I hear you singing, makes me fed 

Appendix A 431 

that it is my voice which you have borrowed. When 
your heart rests upon mine, what is it which makes 
me confuse us in the same sweetness ? 


What lovely words you know how to say to me I 
Alas ! I do not know how to answer in poetry, but 
I love you just the same. I£ I do not know how to re- 
turn your love in charming verses, be very sure that 
I know how to take all the emotion which you want 
to give me, and that I am yours with simplicity. 
Blessed be work if it forces my arms to take the curves 
which you desire, and which will enfold you . . . 
Poetry is the soul of life. I cultivate it, and you make 
it flower. Denis, I am nothing but the poor servant 
who listens to the wise word with faith. 


e 264. In dedicating this work to You, to You also I dedi- 
cate my daughter Bernadette, whose patron saint 
saw you in my native country, which is the mountain- 
ous Bigorre. The old botanists also dedicated their 
herbab to You, and they painted You on the first 
page, standing, Your son in Your arms, all surrounded 
by hlacs, blue rays, roses, gloxinias, weigelias, peonies, 
guelder-roses, lilies, and the tliousand flowers which 
will come no more, because they are no longer gathered 
foi; You by robust visionaries, who got up in the morn- 
ing with the forget-me-nots, and went to sleep with the 
closing of the nasturtiums. You are the Mother of 

Six French Poets 

all men and of God. You were bom in Nazareth as 
simply as my Bernadette in Orthez. They have told 
the truth. * They have not invented an extraordinao' 
origin for You. I hold you in my heart as a certainty. 
Possibly I am unintelligent, but the incense of all 
created flowers rises from the earth for You, and You 
change it into love, like this climbing rose which flings 
itself toward the top of the cedars. You see that I 
do not know any more what I am writing, but my 
thoughts cling to you after the manner of this flower- 
ing vine, and I dedicate this poor work to You as a 
servant might her pot of mignonette, and it trembles 
in m> uplifted hands. 

In this way the verses of which I make use are 
thoroughly classic, simply and solely freed by common- 

After a great battle in which I took part, I look and 
realize that we are only slightly divided. 

Become too sonorous and too easy and slack, the | 

pure alexandrine, formerly so beautiful, is just repe- 

Vers litre does not give a clear enough sense of wh 
the stanzas should begin and end. 

But wanting all liberties, it has at least gained | 
some. They open the way. 

Appendix A 433 

Rare as they are, they are quite enough. Lines 
shall be equal and not assonanced. 

As the male bird in ttim answers the female, the 
male rhyme follows a female rhyme. 

Although lines be thus botmd together, I accept 
the rhyming of plurals with singulars. 

Again like the bird, who takes his rhythm from 
heaven, here and there the rhyme can pause at the 

Sometimes the hiatus comes just in time to recall 
him who is a poet to the simplest speech. 

Now that the mute e is slipping out of speech, I do 
not wish it to count in my verse any more. 

The syllables to be counted are only those which 
the reader habitually pronotmces. 

Having established this brief but definite Art of 
Poetry, my inspiration once more opens its door. 

Page 267, The wind streamed over the blue silk of the grain 

and wrinkled it, and the rattle of the crickets trembled 

like the bell of a little railroad station. The line of 

the horizon slept, stretched over the ears of wheat, 

and the leaves of the stubble rose and fell like matt 
peouants for grasshoppers. Sometimes one saw in the 
sky a cloud like a grove of shadows lifted up from a 
hill, and while it slid along, the hill shone, darkened, 
aad shone again. 



Page ZJ4. On blue Summer nights when the cicadas sing, 
God spills 3 cup of stars over Prance. The wind 
brings a taste of the Summer sky to my lips. I want 
to drink this freshly silvered space. 

For me, the evening air is the edge of the cold cup 
from which, with half-shut eyes and voracious mouth, 
I drink the starry freshness which falls from the 
clouds, as though it were the squeezed juice of a pome- 

Lying upon the grassplot where the grass is 
hot from having flaunted itself in the day air, ohi 
this evening, with what love would I empty the 
mense blue cup in which the firmament moves I 

Am I Bacchus or Pan? I am intoxicated with 
space, and I quench my fever in the freshness of nights. 
With my mouth open to the sky in which the stars , 
shiver, oh [ that the sky would flow into me 
might melt into it ! 


Appendix A 435 

Byron and Lamartine, Hugo, Shelley, are dead, 
intoxicated with space and the starry heavens. Space 
is always there ; limitless it flows ; scarcely drunk, it 
sweeps me along, and I am still thirsty. 


Page 27$. Over the hedge the sea is sparkling, the sea sparkles 
like a shell. One wants to fish in it. The sky is gay, 
'tis pleasant May. 

The sea over the hedge is soft, it is soft like the hand 
of a child. One wants to caress it. The sky is gay, 
'tis pleasant May. 

The glittering needles which sew the sea to the 
hedge move in the quick hands of the breeze. The 
sky is gay, 'tis pleasant May. 

Upon the hedge the sea exhibits its frivolous butter- 
flies. Little vessels about to sail. The sky is gay, 
'tis pleasant May. 

The hedge — it is depths, with golden beetles. 
The breezes are more mischievous. The sky is gay, 
'tis pleasant May. 

As soft as a tear upon a cheek, the sea is a tear on 
the hedge which softly descends to the harbour. But 
one scarcely wishes to weep. 

Six French Potts 

"A boy has falkii into the harbour ! " — "Dead in 
tbe sea, 'tis a pleasant death." But one scarcelj 
wishes to weep. The sky is gay, tis pleassDt May I 

... It came into the world for me, real, creat, 

immense, and dreamed at the saiae t.iTnf» . 

It came into the world for me, divined t^ my eyes, 
on a Spring morning, to the twittering of swaUom. 
My little hands beUeved they took it from the bhx 
sky ! It was faithful to me, being bom again eadi 
dawn, all inhabited by Saints, by Kings, and by Bleroe^ 
and by Angels half in flight, like a tree of btrds. 

Great plaything of my soul, Prencfa forest of 
stones ; and my immense rattles, your towers ; yoo 
remained the sole Pastime of my spirit, witli the tltree 

high parches in a flaming triangle, and above them tbe 
Rose, where one saw the fluttering of pigeons peckinc I 
at the fleeting reflections. 

Then, my Cathedral, when I was at last old e 
to join a kite to the wings of your angels, and c 
your walls ring with my cries, and pursuing ray c 
with streaming hair, to surround your old walls witkl 
the hundred games of childhood . . . 

Page 228. Monstrous General Baron von Plattenberg, if \ 
you I owe this love song to my Church, I give yon if^ 

Appendix A 437 

return, even if it immortalizes you, the poet's slap in 
the face, and the scaffold of the Word — but I have a 
magazine of hate consecrated to all the Germans 
whom I have chanced to meet. 


Page 282, Night- glides thick and cold through Paris. Two 
shadows in the darkness, two thin little shadows, 
move chillily, then slide into the night. 

"Sweet Sire, I have sworn. We go to-night." 
"Very well, follow me, follow me." 

Two little lanes in the midst of little lanes, two thin 
little shadows move in the cold, — then stop. 

There, before a half-buried hovel, a voice, a little 
bitter-sweet voice, tart, a little voice drenched with 

" I am neither lion, nor wolf, nor fox, I am a man, 
CroyI Knock at this door, CroyI Here, — good. 
Call : Dame Simone des Chatnes I " 

" Dame Simone des Chaines I " 

"Good. Listen, listen! . . . Ask if some one 
did not die yesterday at her house." 

" Dame Simone, did some one die here yesterday ? " 

"Alas, sweet Sir I You know it then? My son 
Joachim, my son, last night." 

"I am neither lion, nor wolf, nor fox, I am a man. 
Croy, come back, hold me up! Joachim! . . . 
Croy 1 I am neither lion, nor wolf, nor fox, I am all 

Six French Poets 

three. Croy, I am a man. Goodbye, little cfca- 
ture . . . Joachim ! Joachim ! Come now, let us 
go. Dame Simone was . . . Dame Simone was . . . 
I am a man, Croy, I am weeping for a little crea- 
ture . . , Joachim I Alas! . . . my little child . . ." 

Night glides thick and cold through Paris, two thin 
little shadows push, slide, move. Oh ! what a little 
tart voice, tart . . . Oh, its little anguished criesl 


Page 283. The news was so charming, — an uncle dead so 1 
propos I — my sweet little Louis XI wished very 
much to celebrate it, but intimately, in agreeable 

Master Tristan, all imagination, counselled an out- 
door party, and, as he winked his sly eyes : — "Under- 
stood," said the king, " you are nothing but a rog;ue.'" 

The next morning, under the blue heavens, gay and 
contented, my sweet little Lotiis XI, Tristan rBrmite, 
and their madcap mistresses, Simone des Chatnes 
and Perrette de Trfeor, were come to tease the gud- 
geon of the Seine, at the reedy foot of the Tour de 

Master Olivier, virgin, kept watch on the 1 
crushing the grass with his long strides. He s 
gloomily into the air : the fall of Buridan occupied b 

Appendix A 439 

Simone des Chaines, heart and soul bound to the 
heart and soul of her dearly-loved King, like a water- 
lily bending over an old nunuphar, leaned her snow- 
white neck, her milk-white forehead, and her little 
white velvet nose, over the shrivelled shoulder of her 
lover; and, from time to time, the gracious King 
Louis of France asked her for a worm. Then it was 
with such a great charm that she drew one out of a 
little green box ; it was with such a disturbing charm 
that she presented it, all wriggling, to the King, that 
Louis could not resist kissing her ear (not that of the 
worm but that of Simone des Chatnes), even whisper- 
ing lovingly these words: "Sweetheart, you shall 
assist at the States General." 

Master Olivier, virgin, kept watch on the bank, 
crushing the grass with his long strides. He stared 
gloomily into the air : the fall of Buridan occupied 
his mind. 

With an inattentive eye, as though he were a river- 
side flower, he watched a certain Master Villon nm- 
ning through the reeds after dragonflies, and who, 
sometimes, turned eyes full of anarchy towards those 
bourgeois fishing over there, with their friends. Mas- 
ter Olivier, virgin, was absent minded ... He 
scarcely saw Master Villon taking off his clothes in 
the reeds. He scarcely murmured, as one murmiu^ 
in a dream: "Really, this naked gentleman is not 
unknown to me." 

Six French Poets 

And Tristan caught nothing. And the King cat 
nothing. The wonns spun out . . . And Fran 
Villon, taking to mid-stream, whispered to the fi 
as he floated : " Hurrah for liberty 1 Don't let y 
selves be taken." 

" Hush !" cried the King, " orl shall lose this turb 
"A turbot, my Lord, is a sea fish ..." tin: 
risked Simone. " I sold them, with my mother, at 
great Saint-HononS Market, in the time of my vii 
ity." — "Aseafish? Hey, that is why I lost hu 
replied the King, not at all disconcerted. 

"Past days do not return," hummed Perrette, 
justing her stockings. "Yes, youth is only on 
struck up Tristan, with conviction. Then the ti 
the tender Simone cooed to them the little known 
"It is twenty years since I lost my mother . 
Nothing more was needed. Tristan burst into t« 
— while the King, all the time fishing the w 
sang at the top of his voice : "No, my friends, i 
do not want to be anything ! . . ." 

And Tristan caught nothing. And the I 
caught nothing. The worms spun out, spun out 
And the intelligent gudgeon, flapping their ; 
applauded. — (Undoubtedly, "applauded" is on! 
metaphor. But does one really know what f 
in the water?) 

Appendix A 441 

At the reedy foot of the Tour de Nesle, the boon 
companions, the King and the hangman, sang in 
chorus, like birds. And the gudgeon waltzed, waltzed 
agreeably round the corks. 

Master Olivier, virgin, kept watch on the bank . . . 

Suddenly Perrette burst out laughing in her skirt I 
My sweet little Louis XI, throwing up his line with 
spirit, had hooked a kingfisher. — Tristan said : "A 
forfeit I" Simone: "Fish fljringi" and Master 
Olivier stopped short in the middle of a stride. 


By my soul I I believe I Ve been mistaken," said 
Frangois Villon to himself as he swam imder water 
. . . "This bourgeois is not devoid of lyrism." 

And the gudgeon waltzed, waltzed agreeably rotmd 
the corks. 

Page 2g2, This girl is dead, is dead while she loved. 

They have laid her in the earth, in the earth, at 
break of day. 

They have laid her there alone, alone in her fine 

They have returned gaily, gaily with the light. 

442 Six French Poets 

They have sung gaily, gaily : "To each his turn. 

This girl is dead, is dead while she loved." 

They have gone to the fields, to the fields as every 
day . . . 

Page 2Q3. No, I must love, must trail my pain; to weep 
against my pain here, see, I inscribe my name between 
a rock-rose, and this heart-coloured pink. I am be- 
numbed I — I am going plant-himting by moonlight, 
seeking tmder the moss for the herb which restores 


Page 2q6, If all the girls in the world wished to take hands, 
they could make a circle all roimd the sea. 

If all the boys in the world wished to be sailors, 
they could make a nice bridge over the waves with 
their ships. 

Then one could make a round all roimd the world, 
if all the people in the world wished to take hands. 


Page 2q6, Ah, what joy, the flute and the bagpipe trouble our 
hearts with their enchanting strains. Here come the 

Appendix A 443 

lads and girls, and all the old people, to the sound of 
the instruments. 

Gaij gaij let us be married, ribbons and white 
starched caps, gai, gai, let us be married, and this 
pretty couple likewise. 

What pleasure, when in the church prepared for a 
festival, bells and little bells call them, everyone — 
three hundred little bells for the eyes of the bride, 
a great deep bell for the heart of the husband. 

Gai, gaif let us be married, ribbons and white 
starched caps, gai, ga% let us be married, and this 
pretty couple likewise. 

The bell at last holds our tongues silent. Ah! 
what pain when it is for us no more . . . Weep 
upon your prayerbooks, old men. Who knows? 
Soon the bell may be for you ? 

Gait gat, let us be married, ribbons and white 
starched caps, gai, gat, let us be married, and this 
pretty couple likewise. 

At last that is all, and the bell is silent. Come 
and dance to the happiness of the married couple. 
Hurrah for the lad and the girl and the festival. Ah ! 
what joy when it is not for us. 

444 '^ French Poets 

Gai, gai, let us be married, ribbons and white 
starched caps, gai, gai, let tis be married, and this 
pretty couple likewise. 

What pleasure, the flute and the bagpipe make the 
old young again for a moment. See the lads and the 
young girls dancing. Ah, what joy to the sound of 
the instruments I 


Page 2q8, And you, you, you, it is the fisherman dying, and you, 
you, yu, and the whole sea on top of him. 

And you, you, you, it is the shepherdess weeping, 
and you, you, ya, love is lost to her. 

And you, you, you, it is the sea there bleating, and 
you, you, yon, or it is the sheep there. 

And you,, you, you, pleasures are in Heaven, and 
you, you, you, beneath them are the clouds. 


Page 2q8. At the first soimd of bells: "It is Jesus in his 

cradle . . ." 

The bells are redoubled : "O gui, my lover ! '* 

And then all at once it is the passing bell. 

Appendix A 445 


Page 2g8, In the days when one still went after whales, so far. 
Sailor, it made our maidens weep, on every road 
there was a Jesus on the cross, there were Marquises 
covered with lace, there was the Holy Virgin and there 
was the King I 

In the days when one still went after whales, so far, 
Sailor, it made our maidens weep, there were seamen 
who had faith, and great Lords who spat upon it, 
there was the Holy Virgin and there was the Eling I 

Ah, well, now everybody is contented, one doesn't 
say it. Sailor, but we are contented I There are no 
great Lords, nor Jesus any more ; there is the republic, 
and there is the president, and there are no more 

Page 2QQ. "Synthetic Clown-Clown, hip, hip, turn I" 

"Six pirouettes, blue white white blue — behold 
the Sky! Six pirouettes, blue green green blue — 
behold the Sea ! Six pirouettes, green yellow yellow 
green — behold the Desert I Six pirouettes, gold 
yellow yellow gold — behold the Sim ! 


"Bravo, bravo, a little bravo, gentlemen. Ana- 
lytic Clown-Clown, yours, turn I" 

446 Six French Poets 

"Very well. Gentlemen, let us decompose our- 
selves, follow me carefully: Violet, two pirouettes, 
Indigo, three pirouettes. Blue, five pirouettes, Green, 
two pirouettes, Yellow, three pirouettes. Orange, five 
pirouettes. Red, ten pirouettes. Total: thirty pi- 
rouettes. Attention, Gentlemen, keep your eyes 
on the rainbow . . . Two, three, five, two, three, 

five, ten, rrrrrrran I " 


"Stop, Analytic, stop, enough I He will burst . . . 
God . . . Ah!" 

Synthetic writhed, then in the sawdust of the ring, 
with a profound finger, wrote this sombre epitaph : 

Here lies 


this clown supposed to be wise 

— very mad 

and dead of rage 

at having been unable to turn in a tempest. 


Page 301, I go out. Has the town vanished this morning? 
Where has it flown to? By what wind, to what is- 
land? I find it, but dare not stretch out my hands. 
Senlis is as vaporous as muslin. I, to tear Senhs? 
Take care. Where is it? Roofs and walls are a 

Appendix A 447 

transparent network of fog. Notre-Dame surrenders 
to the air her throat of lace, her so slender neck, 
her delicate moon-coloured breast where the unreal 
hour strikes which only the angels remark, the 
echo is so stifled in the pillow of the sky made of the 
softly spread feathers of their wings on which God 
rests his forehead inclined toward Senlis. 


Page J02, On the side of Paris, but toward Nemours the white, 
a btilfinch sang in the branches this morning. 

On the side of Orleans, flown toward Nemours, a 
lark sang above the wheat at high noon. 

On the side of Flanders, in the golden twilight, far 
from Nemours the magpie has hidden his treasure. 

In the evening, crjring toward the East, toward 
Germany and Russia, the flock of crows has quitted 
this countryside. 

But in my beautiful garden, sheltered by Nemours, 
Philomel has sung all through the starry night. 

Page 30J . "And when he climbed up the ladder with his people, 
what did they throw at them, tell me? Chick- 
ens?" "Notso." "Radishes? Butter?" "You are 
wrong." "Lambs? Oxen?" "Rather!" "Straw- 
berries and cream ? Melons ? Salsify ? Fi ! you are 

Six French Poets 

joking!" "They threw melted iron in their eyes; 
on their noses, under their noses, flamiog torcb« 
(like opened roses, good to inhale) ; and all o^ier 
their bodies a joyous pell-meU of furniture, slates, 
cannon-balls, spit, gnawed bones, varying filths, little 
nails, big nails, anvils, hammers, saucepans, wines, 
papboats of iron, plat«s, forks, stoves, spoons, ink, 
boiling grease and oil, how do I know? Tombstones, 
well-curbs, partition walls, gutters, roofs, belfrys. 
bells, little bells which tinkled gracefully on heads." 

"What else did they throw at them — and no 

"Ah! many objects very braising, very cutting, 
sharpened, whetted, ball-shaped, socket-shaped, gran- 
ulated, homed, of silk, of ploughshares, of earth, of 
sheet-iron, of freestone, of iron, of steel, curved, 
bristled, twisted, confused, everything that was badly 
used up, moss-grown, rusted, frayed, in thongs, in 
wedges, hollow, sieved, in crosses, in screw-jacks, 
hooked, ringing, grating, whistling and snoring, 
going humph, ouf, louf, pouf, bring, sring. tringic, 
balaam, bottom, betting, arara, raraboum, bid, bul, 
breloc. relic, relaps, mil, bomb, marl, broug. batad, 
mirobol, pic, poc, quett, strict, pac, diex, mec, pett, 
sec, sic, soif, flic, faim, brie, broc, bnnii . . . , whidi 
battered in skulls, enlarged noses, banged ears, wid- 
ened mouths, made fly teeth, fingers, elbows, aims. 
chins, cheekbones, and married eyes disdaining ao 
omelette of one, boned shoulders, brutalized chests, 
discouraged hearts, thrust into bellies, pryed first 
into one buttock then another, pulled out false boweb, 
made wool of thighs, billiard-balls of knee-pans, and 

Appendix A 449 

enlarged feet, or cut a man into five, six, seven, — 

"Indeed, and still, what did they throw at them? 

Corpses, instilts, mobs and arrows ? " 

" Better than that I (shiver with me) — houses. 
And it wanted only a little more, and they would have 
thrown the whole town at them over the town I " 


Page SOS* The curtains of the windows are closed. The furni- 
ture sleeps. Sometimes the royal bed gives a long 
moan. It is the wood which complains, it is the soul 
of the old oak. Listen . . . Indeed, it scarcely 
moans. Listen. The dark fireplace comes to life 
and shines. Three little blue fiames dance on the 
hearth, tossing great farewells to the fleur-de-lised 

Nothing more. Darkness pursues the four walls. 

All at once a burst from the hearth brings them 
back. The bed, all shivering, gives a htmian wail; 
and Philippe de Valois detaches himself from a wall. 
Quickly he opens a chest, pltmges into it and shuts it. 

Louis XI, wary, slides hypocritically along ; about 

his black hood a white mouse turns, and here, the 

shield of Brittany on their sleeves, devouring each 

other with their eyes, are Louis XII and Charles VIII. 

They open the chest, plunge into it and shut it. 

Six French Poets 

The little bUckEuard, Francois II, goes to the firt- 
place and vomits. The bed, heaving up its sheds, 
seems a phantom in pain. How short reigns are in 
the chamber of Kings I Did you see the great woodea 

coffer yawn ? 

Nothing r 

Darkness pursues the four trails. 

All at once a burst from the hearth brings them 
back, end in front of Henri II limps Francis the fiisL 
They dream, with bent heads, of Diane de Poitiers, 
then plunge in and shut the lid. 

It 13 Charles V who raises it with his sceptre, and 
the Wise King is red with a reflection from the faggoU. 
He jumps. Does the purple hinder jumping ? He 
rolls in his purple and lets go the truncheon. The 
hand of justice flies from lock to lock (eric I cxac.') 
turning the keys. 

For here is Jean le Bon. 

Round-shouldered, covered with melodious 
melancholy chains, he has a wicked smile, and tlw' 
blue eyes of Christ. The madman Charles VI whips 
him rhythmically with the lilies of France, and 
Charles VII, the drunkard, gathering up the petals, 
bows his face. But he staggers. He has dniak, 
too much. Three sepulchral drops make the dii 


Appendix A 451 

The Valois Kings are in an uproar. The bed trem- 
bles. The eleven Valois Kings call another. There, 
and in the mirrors, see, the coffer yawns. Does Death 
exercise itself in metamorphoses ? At each yawn the 
horns of Satyrs lift the lid and quickly draw back. 

Then great silence . . . 

At last, coming out of the half -shadow, a white face 
rises as the moon rises. And the bed sees Charles IX 
with the black eyes pass. Houp ! the chest breathes 
him in, and everything vanishes. In the depths of the 
infinite a mouse nibbles. 


The curtains of the windows are closed. The 
furniture sleeps. Sometimes the royal bed gives a 
long moan. It is the wood which complains, or per- 
haps, with torches, would one see a man there ? And 
wait ! the dark fireplace comes to life and shines ; three 
little blue flames stretch out their reflections which 
mow the harvest of the fleur-de-lised walls. The ceil- 
ing lights up and seems to grow higher ; the bed, still 
in shadow, is swallowed up under its dome. 

The room, where everything wavers, is a prey to 

A last glimmer strikes out on the chest the circle 
which is escaping from its half -opened abyss. 

Six French Poets 

A quick gleam strikes out on the sides of the chett 
the circle which turns upon its wood in a tumttlt. 

The reflection of the mirrors isolates and makes jM 
out the leapings of twelve great Satyrs suTTCModing 
a frightened goat with their desires, — while in these 
mirrors, thirty times repeated, a Hercules of bnntie 

whirb his mass about. 

He has the grimacing smile of the B^amais. He, 
truly I The very image I 

The darkness is hot. A cry is smouldering - , . 

In silence, at a galop, urged by the silent tempest ol 
Ages and Ages and Ages, in silence, to the galop ct 

his iron horse, Charlemagne traverses the room in a 
flash. Henri dc Guise follows him on his tall , black 
horse, but having gone the wrong way, loses 1 
in a mirror. And afterwards, here is Catherine, I 
great and beautiful face — horrible to see 1 

Now from his stupor Henri tears a cry, a cry sudll 
as is heard at night in the depths of plains, that oyl 
of the solitudes which swells and passes by and t 
away, discouraging life in the heart of the traveller^ 
and it is at this moment that at the window which il 
shining to the West, the iron of a halberd, caught a 
the fluttering stuff, lifts up an easy curtain. 

Outside the day is dying, rose-coloured, with snow. I 

Appendix A 453 


The King, dressed in black, has leaped out of bed, 
he goes to the mirrors to question his face, shrinks 
before his pallor, and, all trembling, puts on his hat. 
Then his black hat isolates his pallor. "Will you 
come to arouse a stupefied blood" (says he), "O 
Liquor! . . /' The cup falls at his feet. Softly 
opening the door, he listens to the antechamber, all 
lit with swords and full of clashings. 

Gloves. Ebony cane. And he is gone. 

"The King, Gentlemen. The King!" A halberd 
resotmds. Voices, whisperings, noises of chairs. The 
twilight glinmier sparklingly underlines the gilded 
beams. The antechamber is confused, full of the 
shadows of vassals bending toward a passage where 
a white point is advancing. 

Behind, the royal bed is crouched under its dome, 
quite at the end of a passage where a white point is 


The King ! " Second echo. — A halberd resounds. 

What oval whiteness, at the height of a face, agi- 
tates two long pearls such as the moon might have 
wept? Pace and long pearls, Henri III appears. 
And the subject shadows, all the shadows, bow down. 

Has a flight of dead leaves fallen? 

Six French Poets 

"You who risk an eye, look : does the twilight suE 
underline the gilded beams?" 

"Yes, but the King?" 

"The King, ray son? . , . He has gone by." 

"Qu^lus, my good friend, that smacks of prodigy." 

"Maugiron, Saint-M^grin, listen to the marvel, thii 
evening the Ghost of the King wanders about the 
palace, masked with moonlight and tvro tears L 

"Is it going to find Catherine again in her cknids? 
It is going up the staircase." 

" It is at the second story ! " 

A halberd resounds. Voices, whisperings, noises of 
cbfurs. Outsidethedaydies, rose-coloured, with snow. 


While the King hurries up the empty staircaM^4 
Chicot happens in, swinging his lighted lantern I 
They surround the Pool, who chuckles, and slips 
away, and reappears, lifting i4p his lantern and swing- 
ing it like a censer at the bottom of the staircase. 

"Go on. Gentlemen, I am searching for a Kin^*] 
says he. 

The antechamber is dark with great whitish o 
where already torches are springing into flame t 
many hands. One of them throws out a flame C 
snow and carmine. Quickly the hands spread out, — 

Appendix A 455 

One sees the whole room. — Agile, at the ends of arms, 
swords take fire, and joining themselves by twos, 
people the air with sparks; some blades hum, 
others are all clashings, and the shadows of bodies 
make the walls move, and the feet of Mignons rustle 
on the flagstones. 


Chicot," Qu61us cries out, "the Ghost of the King 
wanders. What are you doing there, Chicot? Do 
you want to wander? Armed with your candle, you 
will see it go up." 

"No, I see it come down." 

"Who then?" 

"Henri de Guise." 

"The Devil! He is in Spain . . . (Yours, 
Monsieur, touched !) " 

"Pardon, my dear Sir, he is coming down the stair- 

"Chicot, take care of yourself! ..." "It's 
damned true. Gentlemen, / saw him." 

The swords drop back on the flagstones. 

Meanwhile the King hurries up the empty staircase, 
alone, to his mother Catherine's apartments in the 
clouds, and does not feel, sliding by, the limpid cuirass 
of Monseigneur de Guise, who draws back on the land- 
ing. The Duke is very much in the flesh, however. 
His heart beats strongly. But not enough to make the 
cold metal which Monseigneur hides with his hat jingle 
as he bows. 

456 Six French Poets 

At the very bottom, the staircase blazes. The 
Duke comes down. He comes down step by step 
like a discreet phantom. They crowd about, they 
see him. The Duke is returning from Spain like a 
discreet phantom, and he even returns by the bed- 
chamber of the Queen ! 

"Unbelievable," says Mauginm. 

''This Guise is a great fellow," says Saint-M^rin. 

"Way for my Lord the Duke I " 

The limpid cuirass draws away the swords. Every- 
thing slips away. Everything is extinguished. 

Meanwhile Henri III, half-lying on the railing 
at the top of the staircase, has seen everything this 
time. In his throat is a sob like a dove's, then be 
stands up. 

A wall opens slightly for the King. 

Here, nothing but a lamp lighting up a hand. 

Everything — except this lamp and save the parch- 
ment, where this hand, plimip, old, starched, giddes 
the goose-quill or seeks the ink-stand, — everything 
is in shadow. The hand, by chance withdrawing 

Appendix A 457 

a little, leaves the writing. Then this is what the 
flame, which writhes above the characters like a mar- 
tyr, might read : 


To Madame my daughter , the Catholic Queen, 

^*My beloved daughter , my dearest, my docile Isabel, 
I have just received news of you from Spain. Monsieur 
de Guise brought it to me. Indeed, it would be beautiful 
to see all the wicked heretics burning in a single torch 
(in France also, as you do there). AUis, Darling, 
nothing can be done here. With us there is only perver- 
sion, and suffering for your good mother. You know 
the afflictions which it pleases Heaven to send me, and 
which are the greatest ever sent to anyone. To burn 
heretics I Ah I yes, beautiful bouquet of flames, indeed I 
A great bonfire, and one which would be acceptable to 
God. Bui what of that, little daughter, in France nothing 
can be done. Everything here remains in shadow, even 
the Royal Shadow . . ." 

A white lip hangs from the shadow of a face. A 
forehead, scored With moving wrinkles like a belfry of 
birds, bends over, and the more this forehead bends over 
the higher it appears. Catherine's wet eyes grow 
silver. The stem and delicate curve of the Italian 
nose which the fold of the nostril pulls back like a 
bow, is in profile. 

It is the moment when Catherine, pouting and 
pacific, crosses out the impolitic phrase with a stroke 
of her pen. 

458 Six French Poets 

Now another face has risen up in the room. Be- 
hind her, Catherine feels the presence of a pallor. 
She has ceased to write, listening to her heart. Two 
little gloved hands fall on her shoulders^ like two bats 
killed by the same blow of a stick. And one ol the 
little hands circling down to her heart, clenches 
itself there . . . 

Then, with the end of her goose-quill, Catherine 
pensively, gently, caresses it. And both dream, and 
the moment is full of indolence. 

The hand relaxes, trembling . . . By one finger ! — 
see the parchment designated by one finger! 
"Everything here remains in shadow , even the Royal 

Two hands seize Catherine's neck, and the queen, 
lifting up her terrible forehead cries: "My King!" 
A quick squeak of the wood floor reveals a sudden 
flight, and soon Henri III descends the empty stair- 


He crosses the dark and deserted antechamber, 
throws himself against a wall with both arms spread 
out, and searches for the passage down the length of 
the empty wall. 

Nothing more : emptiness. 

Appendix A 459 

The King totters ; he hurries, totters ; he hurries to 
the open door and starts to go in, but stops, his hand 
at his throat and livid, before a sleepy and swaying 

Henri seizes the leg of the guard whom he wakes, 
for — O Stupor I behind the guard whom he wakes, 
there I in his bed I . . . someone, someone or some- 
thing, like himself (and perhaps himself), black and 
white, a man, a King or something, a King perhaps ? 
Charles IX or Frangois? A prone phantom sleeps 
the sleep of the dead. 


Guard I Come, you ! Who is in the rooms of the 
King of France ? To whom does that pallor belong ? 
Those are my clothes. Let me see, did I go out, or 
is it I, there? What is that thing ? " "Alas!" said 
the man in alarm, ''alas I my dear Sire, but I . . . 
I do not know." 


Silence," said a voice. A voice said : " Silence ..." 
The King shakes, all crouched down like a frog 
in the cold, and the halberd falls and the guard 

"It is nothing, my sweet Sire, it is Chicot, resting." 

And Chicot decamps dragging a sheet after him. 

460 Six French Poets 



Midnight chimes from Saint-Germain-rAuxerrois. 


(A Shepherd's Vision) 

Page JIT' lo ! I recognized Pan by his unconstrained attire, 
and his shaggy hair 1 He leapt in the sunshine^ some- 
times with an easy gesture picking a cherry from the 
crimson trees. How unpolluted he was ! Drops of 
water trickled over his glossy fleece like stars : one 
would have said they were of silver. 

And it was under the blue sky of my young Spring- 

Presently, having caught sight of a bigger, more 
beautiful cherry, he seized it, and squeezed the stone 
from the bleeding pulp. I approached. I was 
overjoyed ... He having aimed at my eye, I re- 
ceived the stone. I started to kill Pan with my knife. 
He stretched out an arm, made a sudden side-leap, and 
the whole World turned roimd. 

Come and worship Pan, the god of the World ! 

Appendix A 461 


Page 317. When we go away from each other, we do not say 
anything. And we have beheved that we did not love 
each other much. When we were going away from 
each other, we did not say anything for a long time. 
It was like that, like indifference. 

We kissed each other well, however, yesterday and 
before, you said to me : "Five days." But we said to 
each other : " That doesn't last long, five days of kisses, 
it is like fair weather." 

To-day blue sea and to-morrow it is a storm. You 
mustn't ask too much of love. And besides, sailors, 
do you see, it goes. A boat kisses the sand . . . 
How shoit kisses are I - 

(Square Monge) 

Page 318. Intoxication of Spring I and the greensward turns 
round the statue of Voltaire. — Ah I really, it is a 
beautiful green, it is very pretty, the Square Monge : 
green grass, railing and benches green, green police- 
man, it is, when I come to think of it, a beautiful 
comer of the Universe. — Intoxication of Spring I 
and the greensward turns round the statue, of Vol- 

The pale trees where the sky opens its blue flowers 
are full of birds. The pigeons make love tenderly. 

Six French Poets 

The sparrows wag their tails. I am waiting . . . 
Oh ! 1 am happy, in the deliciousness of waiting. I 
am gay, mad, in love — and the pale trees where the 
sky opens its blue flowers are full of birds. 

I climb up on the benches the colour of hope, or else 
I balance ... on the hoops of the flower bed, before 
the statue of Voltaire. Hurrah for everything! 

Hurrah for myself ! Hurrah for France ! There is 
nothing I do not hope. I have the wings of hope. I 
climb up on the benches to leave the earth, or else 
I do a little balancing. 

She said : one o'clock ; it is only noon 1 Time is 
short to lovers. The birds sing, the sunshine dreams. 
Every time that Adam meets Eve they must have a 
paradise. Behind the railing, in the sun, the torpid 
omnibus thinks of it. She said : one o'clock ; it b 
only noon ! Time is short to lovers. 

Before the statue, a white cat, a yellow one — and ] 
the yellow one is a female I — roll, tumble upon the * 
hot grass, show their paws, miau, fight together. 
The sun gently widens your smile, O my gentle Vol- 
taire. O good faun. — Before your statue, a white 
cat, a yellow one, roll, tumble, show their paws. 

The trees put out leaves to the song of the binla. 1 
My heart's bud bursts open t And I shake for nothing ■ 
but having seen the diamonds of the watering-pat I 
cover the grass with mist. A rainbow springs from I 

Appendix A 463 

the spine of the philosopher and goes qtiivering into 
the branches of a horse-chestnut tree. The trees put 
out leaves to the song of the birds. My heart's bud 
bursts open I 

The azure is on fire : under the bench where the 
policeman is sleeping, a dog smells a dog. A little 
girl skips rope over her shadow, and others, and 
others. I see their shadows on the walk grow bigger 
or shrink. And all these things sing, one better than 
another : '^ Little fire ! Big fire ! so that it lights the 
good God I " The azure is on fire : under the bench 
where the policeman is sleeping, a dog smells a dog. 

Here is the musical cocoa-vender, loaded with his 
golden taps. His taps are serpents from which his 
tinkling cocoa spurts into the cups of the children. 
Cool our lust: quick! for a sou of your mixture, 
glittering Laocoon. I drink to all Nature, I drink 
to your boiling bronze, you who smile at adventures, 

old Voltaire, O gentle, wicked man. — Here is the 
vender of musical cocoa. His taps are serpents. 

Ah, Spring, what fire rises from the earth! what 
fire falls from the sky, Spring. — Before the statue of 
Voltaire, I am waiting for my new Manon. And while 
she delays, Voltaire, sitting down, is patient : I look 
at what he is looking at, an Easter daisy in the grass. 

1 am waiting. — I am waiting, O Sky I I am waiting, 
O Earth ! under all the flames of Spring ! 

464 Six French Poets 

Two o'clock. Let us pull this daisy to pieces. 
little, very much, passionately ..." 
little Manon, come quickly, run, I implore you. 
you — you smile in a. way to make me 1 
annoyed. Dirty encyclopedist I Oh 1 . , . Here & 
is under all the flames of Spring I 

And the trees turn and the greensward tuma n 
the statue of Voltaire. — Decidedly, it is a beauti- 
ful green, it is delicious, the Square Monge : green 
grass, railing and benches green, green policeman, it is, 
when I come to think of it, a beautiful comer of the 
Universe. — I climb up on a bench the colour of hope. 
One should be able to see me from the whole of Prance. | 


Fire I Tommy . . . My heart capers to the b 
ing of our cannon. Be calm, old fellow. 
a long way, a long way to Tipperary. Since j 
day's thirst without a drop of whiskey, I shoot < 
one shoots. Ah I . . . it's fine. 

Who threw me his bottle? Ah, old Bob, you^l 
dead? Be calm, dear boy. Soon Leicester ... I 
Square ... All right! He died for old England. | 
The bottle is empty. Fire 1 Tommy, shoot 
more 1 We are all fighting very well, all right, tbs I 
dead are wrong. 

Appendix A 465 

Quiet, old boy. Ah, it is a long way, a long way 
to Tipperary, over there, close to the pretty girl I 
know. She said yes when I said no. Fire, Tommy. 
My heart capers to the banging of our cannon. 

Tommy, understand. Tommy, love has points. 
Yes, it's a delicate, distant lady that one never reaches 
except in dreams. O big mug! You dream and 
everything comes. The soul and the body with it. 
Here there is nothing but death, she is an infernal 

Death ! Ah ! if I had looked her way, the German 
would have taken my neck tmder her withered arm, 
and made me taste her mouth with shrapnel for teeth, 
suffocating my chest to torture. Good God, love 
hasn't anything crueller than that. 

But death, one doesn't think about it, it is in front. 
Calm, lucky chap. Do you want to see death ? She 
is a great, old, worn-out skeleton, floating over the 
battle like a standard : just now she is floating over 
the pointed helmets. 

Fire! Tommy . . . What, you are dying too, 
faithful fellow? You are in the arms of the infernal 
woman ? Get up, old man ! Ah, it is a long way, a 
long way to Tipperary. Goodbye, Leicester Square, 
Goodbye, Piccadilly ! 


466 Six French Poets 

We were fifteen, hurrah, there are three of us moY- 
ing. O cannon, your balls are tinged 'with our blood, 
our blood which makes our uniforms red again : in 
front of us the Germans are bleeding f ear, they believe 
that we load your jaws with out hearts. 

Dance, dance the jig I Ah, yes . . . though victors 
we dance our jig in God's open sky. We, good boys, 
we are at Tipperary. Hullo, Kate; hullo, Annie; 
hullo, Nellie . . . Our hearts are comfortable, pro- 
vided that, on earth, 

our old England lives forever 1 



Emile Verhaeren 

Lbs Flam ANDES, po^es. Bruxelles, Hochsteyn, 1883. 

(Rdimpr. dans Pohnes. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de 

France, 1895.) 
Les Contes de Minuit, prose. Bruxelles (Collection de la 

" Jeune Belgique "), Franck, 1885. 
Joseph Heymans, Peintre, critique. Bruxelles, "Soci^t6 

Nouvelle," 1885. 
Les Moines, po^mes. Paris, Lemerre, 1886. (R^impr. dans 

Pohnes, Paris, Sod^t^ du Mercure de France, 1895.) 
Fern AND Khnopff, critique. Bruxelles, "Sod^t^ Nouvelle," 

Les Soirs, po^es. Bruxelles, Deman, 1887. (Rdimpr. dans 

Pohnes^ nouvelle sirie. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de 

France, 1896.) 
Les D^bAcles, po^es. Bruxelles, Deman, 1888. (R^impr. 

dans Pohnes, nouvelle serie. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure 

de France, 1896.) 
Les Flambeaux Noirs, po^es. Bruxelles, Deman, 1890. 

(R^impr. dans Pohnes, nouvelle sirie, Paris, Soci6t6 

du Mercure de France, 1896.) 
Au Bord de la Route, po^es. (Li6ge, extrait de La WaUonie,) 

Bruxelles, Vaillant-Carmanne, 1891. (Rdimpr. dans 

Pohnes. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1895.) 

Les Apparus dans mes Chemins, po^es. Bruxelles, Lacom- 



Six French Poets 

blez, 1891. {R^mpr. dans Pohnes, III' 
ScxddtS du Mercure de Prance, 1S99.) 

Les Campagnes Hallucinees, pofimes. Couverture ft 
omementation de Theo van Rysselbei^he. BruxeDes, 
Deman, 1893. (R^impr. k la suite des ViiUs Tentacuiaini. 
Paris, Soci^td du Mercure de France, 1904.) 

Almanach, podmes. Illustr^ par Th^ van Rysselber^x. 
BruKclles, Dietrich, 1895. 

Les Villages Illusoires, po^mes illustr^ de quatre desanf 
de Georges Minne. Bruxelles, Deman, 1895. (R&tqx-. 
dans Poimes, IIP sirie. Paris, Sodfitfi du Mercun de 
France, 1899.) 

Po£mes (/' serie). {Les Bords de la Route. Les PJamandtt. 
Les Moines, augment 6s de plusieur3 podmes.) Pxis, 
Socigt^ du Mercure de Prance, 1895. (R^impr. augmenUt 
de nouveaux poimes. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prsnoe, 

Les Villes Tentaculaires, potoies. Couverture et amt- 
mentation de Th6o van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 
1895. (R^impr. : Les Villes Tentaculaires pr6c6d6es da 
Campagnes Hallucinees. Paris, Society du Mercure de 
France, 1904.) 

FoiuES (nouvelle sirie). (Les Soirs. Let Debdcles. Les Flam- 
beaux Noirs.) Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de Prance, 1896^ 

Les Heurss Claires, po^es. Couverture et omemestatkia 
de Th6o van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 1896. 
(R&npr. : Les Heures Claires, etc. Paris, SodiU da 
Mercure de France, 1909.) 

EiULB Verhaeren, 1883-1896, portrait par Th6o van Ryssel- 
berghe. (An anthology, "pour les amis du PoMe.") 
(Bruxelles, Deman, 1897.) 

Les Aubes, drame lyrique en 4 actes. Couverture et omemeii- 
tationdeTh to van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 1898. 

Les Visages de la Vie, poimes. Couverture et 

Appendix B 


tation de Thfo van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Demati, 1899. 
(R^impr. ; Lts Viiages de la Vie. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mer- 
cure de France, 1908.) 

PoiUEs (j' sirie). (Les Visages lUusoires. Les Apparus dans 
mes Chemins. Les Vignes de ma MuraiUe.) Paris, Soci6t£ 
du Mercure de France (1899). 

Le CloItre, drame en 4 actes, en prose et en vers. Couverture 
et omementation de Thfe van Rysselberghe. Bnixelles, 
Deman, 1900. (Rdimpr. dans Deux Drames. Paris, 
Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1909.) 

Pbtitks L£gendes, podmes. Couverture et omementation de 
Thto van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 1900. 

Philippe II, trag^die en trois actes. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mer- 
cure de France, 1901. (R^impr. dans Deux Drames. 
Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1909,) 

Les Forces Tumultueuses, po&nes. Paris, Soci^td du Mer- 
cure de France, 1902. 

Les Villes Tentaculaires, pr^cM^es des Campagnes Halitt- 
cinies, po&nes. Paris, Soci^t^ du Merciu^ de France, 1904. 

TouTE LA Flandre: Les Tendresses Pre«i£res, pofiraes. 
Couverture et omementation de Thte van Rysselberghe. 
Bruxelles, Deman, 1904. 

Lbs Heures o'APRis-MiDi, pofimes. Couverture et omemen- 
tation de Thfo van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 
1905. (R^impr. : Les lleures Claires. Paris, Soci^t^ du 
Mercure de France, 1909.) 

Reubrandt (Collection "Les Grands Artistes, leur Vie. leur 
CEuvre"), biographie critique illustrfe de 24 reproductions 
hors texte. Paris, Laurens, 1905. 

Images Jafonaises, texte d'E., V. . . . illustrations de 
Kwassou. Tokio, 1906. 

La Multiple Splendeur, potoies. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure 
de France, 1906. 

TouTE LA Flandbe: La Guirlande des Dunes, po6mes. 


Six French Poets 

Couverture et omementation de Th6o van R;| 

Bruxelles, Deman, 1907. 
Les Lettres Francaises EN Belgique. Bruxdles, I 

Les Visages db la VtB (Les Visages de la Vie. Lei 1 

Mais), po^es, nouvelle MitJon. Paris, Soa6t6 dn 1 

cure de France, 1908. 
ToUTE LA Flandre ; Les H£hos. Couverture 

tatioQ de Th^ van Rysselberghe. Bruxelles, Deman, 191 
James Ensor, monographic. Bruxelles, E. van Oest, 1908, 
TouTE LA Flandre ; Les Villes a Pignons. Bruxelles, I 

man, 1909. 
Helena's Heimkehr. Leipzig, Insel-Verlag, 1909. (Ti 

lation by Stefan Zweig from ms. of lIHim de Sparte.) 
Les Rbvthmes Souverains, po^mes. Paris, Soci^ttf da Xtd 

cure de France, 1910. 
Pierre-Paul Rubens, critique. Bruxelles, G. van Oest & C 

Les Heures du Soir, po^mes, 
H£lenb dk Sparte, tragSdie 

Revue Franjaise," 1912. 
Toute la Flandre: Les Plaines. Bruxelles, Deman, 191 1. 
Les El£s Mouvants, po6mes. Paris. Crfa, 191a. (R^impr.: 

Les Blis Mouvants. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 

191 3.) 
La Belgique Sanglante. Paris, Edition de la " Nouvelie 

Revue Fran;aise," 1915. 

Leipzig, Insel-Verlag, 
I 4 actes. Paris, "Nouvrfle 

Albert Samain 

Au Jardin db l'Infante, po(*mea. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 
de France, 1893, (Rfiimpr. : augment^ d'une partie 
in6dit« : L' Urne Penchee. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de 

France, 1897.) 

Appendix B 


Aux Flancs du Vase, po&mes. Paris, Soci^tfi du Mercure da 
Prance, 1898. {R^impr. ; Aux Flancs du Vase, suivi de 
Polyphhne el des Poimes Inacheves. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mer- 
cure de France, 1901.) 

Le Chariot d'Or (Le Chariot d'Or. Sympkonie Hiroique), 
poSmes. Paris, SociSt^ du Mercure de France, 1901. 

CoNTES (Xanlhis. Divine. Bontemps. Hyalis, Remire et Alt' 
gisile). Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 190a. 

PoLYPH&ME, deux act«s en vera. Paris, Sod^t^ du Mercure de 
France, 1906. 

Remv I 


Meblette, roman. Paris, Plon et Nourrit, 1886. 

SrxTiNE, Roman de la Vie Cirebraie. Paris, Saving, 1890. 

Le Latin Mystique: Les PoiUs de I'Antipkonaire et la Sym- 

bolique au Moyen Age. Priface de J.-K. Huysmans. Paris, 

Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1892. 
Litanies de la Rose, poteies. Paris, Soci^ti? du Mercure de 

France, 1 892. (Ri^impr. dans Le PiUrin du Silence. Paris, 

Socifit^ du Mercure de France, 1896.) 
LiLiTH. Paris, des Presses des "Essais d'Art Libre," 1892. 

(R^impr. : LiUtk, suivi de Thfodal. Paris, Soci^td du Mer- 
cure de France, 1906.) 
Le Fant6me, avec 2 lithographies originales de Henry de 

Groui. Paris, Socifit^ du Mercure de France, 1893. 

(Rdimpr. ijarn; Le Piterin du Silence. Paris, SociiSt^ du 

Mercure de France, 1896.) 
THfcjDAT, poteie dram ati que en prose. Paris, Social 6 du 

Mercure de France, 1893. 
L'iDfeALiSME, avec un dessin de Filiger. Paris, Soci^d du 

Mercure de Prance, 1893. 
Fleurs de Jadis, potoies. Edition elz^virienne. Sans nom 

d'auteur ni d'^t. (Monnoyer imprim., 1893.) (R^impr. 


Six French Poets 

dans Le Pilerin du Silence. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 

France, 1896.) 
HiSTOiKES Maciques, contenant une lithograpbie de Henry 

Groux. Paris, SociSt6 du Mercure de France, 1894. 
HiSroglyphes, poSmes. Manuscrit autographique de 19 feu- 

iUets, avec une Uthographie originale de Henry de Gronx 

en frontiapice. Paris, Socift^ du Mercure de 

1894. (R6impr. dans Diverlissemetib. Paris, Sod^£ 

Mercure de France, 1914.) 
HiSTOiRE Tragique DE LA pRiNCESSE PniNissA, expliqufe 

quatre (Episodes. Paris, Soci^tS du Mercure de Pi 

1894. {Rdimpr. danF! Le Pilerin du Siletux. Paris, 

du Mercure de France, 1896.) 
Proses Moroses, (tirage h petit nombre). Paris, Soci^^ da 

Mercure de France, 1694. (There a a secoad edition of 

this book, undated.) 
Le Chateau Singulier, orn6 de 32 vignettes en rouge et en 

bleu : tirage i petit nombre. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1894. (R^impr. dans Le Pilerin du SHaia, 

Paris, SociSt^ du Mercure de France, 1896.) 
Phocas, avec une couverture et 3 vignettes. Paris, CoUeo-, 

tion de ITmagier et se "vend au Mercure de PraniC«,' 

La PofisiE Populaire. Paris, Collection de I'Ymagier et mI 

"vend au Mercure de France," 189 
Le Miracle dk ThIophile, de Rutebeuf, texte du XIII"' 

siScle modernist, public avec preface. Paris, tirS de 

TYmagier et "se vend par le Mercure de France,' 
AuCASSiN ET NicoLBTTE, chantefable du XIII' siMe, trad. 

de Lacurae de Sainte-Palaye, revue et compl<?tfe d'aprte 

un tejrte original. Paris, LTmagier (1 
L'VuAGiER, Ouvrage public en 8 fascicules trimestriels, de 64 

p^es, d'octobre 1894 k juillet 1896, contenant envim. 

300 gravures, reproductions d'anciens bois des XV* e( 


Appendix B 


XVI" siteles, grandes images colorizes, pages de vieux 
livres, miniatures, lithographies, bois, dessins, etc., de 
M.-N. Whistler, Paul Gauguin, Filiger, G. d'Espagnat, 
A. Seguin, O'Connor, L. Roy, etc. Paris, 1896. 

Almanach de L'Ymagier, 1897, zodiacal, astrologiquf, magique, 
cabalistique, artistique, Utteraire et prophStique. Om£ de 
25 bois dessinfe et grav& par Georges d'Espagnat. Vi- 
gnettes en rouge et en noir. Couverture en 4 couleurs. 
Paris, s. d. 

Lh PtLERiN DU Silence (Phinissa. Le FantSme. Lt Ch&teau 
Singiditr. Le Livrc des Litanies. Thedtre Muet. Le Ptlerin du 
Silence). Frontispice d'Annand SeguJn. Paris, Soci^t^ du 
Mercure de France, 1896. 

Le Livkk des Masques, Portraits Symholistes, Closes et Dock- 
ments sur les Ecrivains d'Hier el d'Aujovrd'hui. Paris, 
Soc!i:-tS du Mercure de France, 1896. 

Les Chevaux de DioMtnE, roman. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mer- 
cure de France, 1897. 

Le Vieux Roi, trag^die nouveUe. Paris, Sod^t^ du Mercure 
de France, 1897. 

D'uN Pays Lointain, contes. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de 
France, 1898. 

Le II ■ LivRE des Masques. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de 
France, 1898. 

Les Saintes du Paradis. Dix-neuf petits poteies, om^s de 
XIX bois originaux dessinfe ct tallies par Georges d'Espa- 
gnat. Paris, "se vend k la librairie du Mercure de France" 
(1898). (Rfimpr. dans Divertissements. Paris, Soci£t6 du 
Mercure de France, 1914.) 

Esth£tique de la Langue Fran^aise {La Deformation. La 
Mitapkore. Le Cliche. Le Vers Libre. Le Vers Populaire). 
Paris, Socjfit^ du Mercure de France, 1899. 

Le Songe d'unk Femme, roman familier. Paris, Soci6t6 du 
Mercure de France, 1899. 


Six French Poets 

' La Culture des Idees {Du Style ou de VEcriture. La Cr 

Subconscienle. La Dissociation des Idies. StSphane Maliarmi 

el I'Idee de Decadence. Le Paganisme Elernel. La MoraU dt 

I'Amour. Ironies et Paradoxes). Paris, Soci^t^ du Mcrcure 

de France, 1900. 
Oraisons Mauvaises, potaies. Omfe par Georges d'Espagnal 

de vignettes en deux tons. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de 

France, 1900. (R^impr. dans Divertissements. Paris, So- 

d£t6 du Mercure de France, 1914.) 
SiMONE, Pohne Champitre (1892). Paris, Socii^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1901. (Tirage h, petit nombre sur papier verg^ 

couverture en papier pejnt.) (Reimpr. dans DivtrlissemetUi. 

Paris, Soci6te du Mercure de France, 1914.) 
Le Chemin de Velours, Nouvelks Dissociations d'Idees. PatiE, 

Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1902. 
Lb Probleme du Style. Questions d'Arl, de Littiraturt tt 

de Grammaire, avec une preface et un index des aoms c 

Paris, Socidt^ du Mercure de France, 1902. 
Epilogues. Reflexions sur la Vie {i8g$-i8g8). Paris, SodM 

du Mercure de France, 1903. 
PoYSiQUE DE L'AuouR. Essai sur I'lnsttnct Sexuet. Pariii 

Soci6tg du Mercure de France, 1903. 
Epilogues. Reflexions sur la Vie, 2' shie {i8f>g-igoi). Paris, 

SociStf du Mercure de France, 1904. 
Judith Gautier, biographic illustr^ de portrait fro&tispioe 

de John Sargent, et d'autogr. etc. Paris, BibUoth., io- 

temat. d'Sdit., 1904, 
Promenades Litt£raires. Paris, Soci£t^ du Mercure 

France, 1904. 
Promenades Philosophiques. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de 

France, 1905. 
Epilogues. Reflexions sur la Vie, 3* sirie {1902-1004). Pans, 

Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1905, 

Appendix B 475 

Promenades Litt£raires, 2* sSrie, Paris, Soci^t^ du Mer- 
cure de Prance, 1906. 

Unb Nuit au Luxembourg, roman. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mer- 
cure de France, 1906. 

Un Cgbur Virginal, roman. Couverture illustrde par Georges 
d'Espagnat. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1907. 

Dialogues des Amateurs sur les Choses du Temps (1905- 
1907)- (Epilogues f ^ sSrie.) Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 
de France, 1907. 

Promenades Philosophiques, 2* sine. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mer- 
cure de Prance, 1908. 

Promenades Litt£raires, 3* sSrie. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 
de France, 1909. 

NouvBAUX Dialogues des Amateurs sur les Choses du 
Temps (1907-1910). {Epilogues^ 5* sSrie.) Paris, Soci^t6 
du Mercure de France, 1909. 

Promenades Pbilosofhiques, 3* sirie. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mer- 
cure de France, 1909. 

COULEURS {Contes Nouveaux suivis de Choses Anciennes). Paris, 
Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 191 2. 

Promenades LnriRAiRBS, jf sSrie, Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 
de France, 1912. 

Divertissements {EUroglyphes. Les SaitUes du Paradis. Orai- 
sons Mauvaises. Simone. Paysages Spirituels. Le Vieux 
Cojffret. La Main), po^es en vers. Paris, Soci^t^ du 
Mercure de France, 19 14. 

Lbttres d'un Satyre. Paris, G. Cr^, 6dit. 

Le Chat de Mis^re. Idies et Paysages, (Messein, 6dit. Col- 
lection des Trente.) 

Dante, Beatrice et la Po£sib Amoureuse, critique. (S^rie, 
" Les Hommes et les Id6es.") Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de 
Prance, s. d. 

La Belgique LnriRAiRS. Paris, G. Cr^, 191 5. 

Pendant L'Oragb. Paris, Librairie Champion, 1915. 


Six French Poets 

Henri de RicNiER 

Lendehains, ponies. Paris, Vanier, 1885. (Rdmpr. daos le 

recueil : Premiers Poimes. Paris, Soci6t€ du Mercure de 

France, 1899.) 
Afaisement, po^es. Paris, Vanier, 1886. (R^i^^)^. : Prt- 

miers Poimes. Paris, Soci^t4 du Mercure de Prance, 

Sites, podmes. Parts, Vanier, 1887. (Rfimpr. : Pnmkrt 

Poimes. Paris, Soci^tfi du Mercure de France, 1899.) 
Episodes, po&nes. Paris, Vanier, 1888. (R^impr, : Premierf 

Poimes. Paris, Soci^td du Mercure de France, 1899.} 
Po^MES Anciens et ROMANESQUES, 1887-1889. Paris, U- 

brairie de I'Art Ind^pendant, 1890. (R^impr. dans k 

recueil: Poimes, iS8/-i8f)2. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1895.) 
Episodes, Sites et Sonnbts, poSmes. Paris, Vanier, 1891. 

(R6impr. : Premiers Poimes. Paris, Sodift^ du Mercure 

de Prance, 1895.) 
Tel Qu'en Songe, pofimes. Paris, Librairie de I'Art Ind^peo- I 

dant, 1892. (R^impr. : Poimes, 1887-1892. Paris, Soci^U I 

du Mercure de France, 1895.) 
Contes a Soi-M£me, prose. Paris, Librairie de I'Art lDd6- I 

pendant, 1894. (R^impr. : La Canne de Jaspe, Paris, I 

Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1897.) 
Le Bosquet de Psvcr£, prose, firuxelles, Lacombles, 189^ I 

(Reimpr. flani I'ouvrage suivant: Figures et Caradirtt, ] 

Paris, Soci£tii du Mercure de France, 1901.) 
Le Tr£fle Noih, prose. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de France, | 

1895. {'Ri{mpr.AaDs La Canne de Jaspe. Paris, Soci£t£ dtt ] 

Mercure de France, 1897.) 
AiifrrHUSE, pofimes. Paris, Librairie de I'Art Ind^pendant, j 

1895. (Reimpr. dans le recueil: Les Jeux Rustiques et I 

Divins. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de France, 1897.) 

Appendix B 477 

PoiMES, 1 887-1 892 {Pohnes Anciens et Romanesques. Tel 
Qu*en Songe), Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 

Lbs Jeux Rustiqubs bt Divins, podmes. (ArSthuse, Les 
Roseaux de la FlUte. Inscriptions pour les Treize Fortes de 
la ViUe, La Corbeille des Heures, Pohnes Divers.) Paris, 
Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1897. 

La Cannb db Jaspb, contes. (Af. d'Amercceur. Le Trifle Noir. 
Contes d Soi-Mhne.) Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 

Prbmibrs PoiMBS {Les Lendemains, Apaisement, Sites. Epi- 

sodes. Sonnets. Poisies Diver ses). Paris, Soci6t6 du Mer- 
cure de France, 1899. 
Lb TRiFLB Blanc, prose. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de 

France, 1899. (Rdimpr. dans Couleur du Temps. Paris, 

Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1908.) 
La Doublb MaItrbssb, roman. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1900. 
Lbs M^daillbs d'Argilb, po^es. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1900. 
FiGURBS BT Caract^rbs {Michelet. Alfred de Vigny. Hugo. 

StSphane Mallarmi. Le Bosquet de PsychS, etc., etc.). Paris, 

Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1901. 
Lbs Amants Singulibrs, nouvelles. (La Femme de Marbre. 

Le Rival. La Courte Vie de Balthasar Aldramin, VSnitien.) 

Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1901. 
Lb Bon Plaisir, roman. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 

La Cit£ DBS Eaux, po^es. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de 

France, 1902. 
Lb Mariagb db Minuit, roman contemporain. Paris, Soci6t6 

du Mercure de France, 1903. 
Lbs Vacancbs d'un Jbunb Hommb Sagb, roman. Paris, 

Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1903. 


Six French Poets 

Les Rencontres de M. db Bit£oT, roman. Paris, Soci£t^ da ' 

Mercure de France, 1904. 
Le Pass£ Vivant, romaa moderne. Paris, Socidt^ du Mercure 

de France, 1905. 
La Sandalb Ailee (1903-1905), po^mes. Paris, Soci£t£ dn | 

Mercure de France, 1906. 
SujETS ET Paysages, critique. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de J 

France, 1906. 
EsQUissES Venitiennes, illustr. de Maxime Dethomas. Paris, I 

Collection de "L'Art D^coratif," 1906. 
L'Amour et le Plaisih, histoire galante. Paris, Bamfoud, 

1906. (Ri^impr. dans Couleur du Temps. Paris, Socd^tf ] 

du Mercure de France, 1908.) 
La Peur de l'Amoub, roman. Paris, Socidt^ du Mercure de I 

France, 1907. 
Teois Contes a Soi-MiME. (Le Sixiime idariage tU Barbe- 

Bleue. Le Recit de la Dame des Sept Miroirs. Le Hertoif 

Vivant.) Miniatures de Maurice Ray. Paris, pour les 

Cent Bibliophiles, 1907. 
Les Scrupules de Sc.anarelle, com^e en trois actes et en 

prose. Paris, Soci^ttS du Mercure de France, 190S. 
Couleur du Temps, contes. (Le Trifle Blanc. L'Amour H U 

Plaisir. Tiburce et Ses Amis. Conies pour les Treiae.) 

Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1908. ' 

La FLAMflfeK, roman. Paris, Sod^t^ du Mercure de Pranoe^ 

Lb Miroir des Heures (1906-1910), po&mes. Paris, Sod^t^ 

du Mercure de France, 1911. 
L'Amphisb£ne, roman modeme. Paris, Sod^t^ du Mercure 

de France, 1912. 
Le Plateau de Laque, contes. Paris, Sociiti du Memire 

de Prance, 1913. 
Portraits et Souvenirs, critique. Paris, Soditd du Mercure 

de France, 1913. 

Appendix B 479 

RoMAiNB MiRMAULT, ronian. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de 
Prance, 1914. 

Francis Jammes 

Six Sonnets. Orthez, Typographic J. Goude-Dumesnil, 1891. 
Vers. Orthez, Typographic J. Goude-Dxunesnil, 1892. 
Vers. Orthez, Typographic J. Goudc-IXimesnil, 1893. 
Vers. Paris, Ollendorff, 1894. 
Un Jour, po^e dialogue. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de 

Prance, 1896. 
La Naissance du PoirE, po^e. Bruxelles, 6ditiondu "Coq 

Rouge," 1897. 
De L'Ang£lus de L'Aube a L'Ang£lus du Soir, i 888-1 897, 

podsies. (De PAngSlus de VAube d VAngilus du Sair, La 

Naissance du Pohte. Un Jour, La Mort du Pohte.) Paris, 

Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 1898. 
QUATORZE PRiiRES. Orthez, Imprimerie E. Paget, 1898. 
La Jeune Pille Nue, po^e. Paris, Petite Collection de 

"PErmitage," 1899. 
Clara d'£ll£beuse ou L'Histoire d'une Ancienne Jeune 

Pille, roman. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 1899. 

(Rdimpr. h. la suite du Roman du Lihre. Paris, Soci^t6 

du Merou^ de Prance, 1903.) 
Le PoixE ET l'Oiseau, podsies. Paris, Petite Collection de 

"PEnnitage," 1899. 
Lb Deuil des Primev£res, po^es, 1898-1900. (ElSgies. La 

Jeune Fille Nue. LePolteetVOiseau. Poesies Diver ses. Qua- 

forte Prihres,) Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de Prance, 

AlmaIde d'Etremont ou L'Histoire d'une Jeune fille 

Passionn£e, roman. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 

1901. (R^impr. k la suite du Roman du Lihre, Paris, 

Soci6t6 du Mercure de Prance, 1903.) 

480 Six French Poets 

Le Triomphe de la Vib, po^es, 1900-1901. (Jeanile Noarriau^ 
Existences.) Paris, Socidte du Mercure de France, 1902. 

Le Roman du Li£vre. (Clara d'Ellebeuse. Atmaide d'Etrtmonl, J 
Lts Ckoses. Conies. Notes sur des Oasis. Sur J.- J. SotuseoM,) I 
Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1903. 


roman. Paris, Soci6t^ du Mercure de France, 

(R£impT. dans Peuitles dans le Vent. Paris, Soci£t£ du H^ i 

cure de France, igi3.) 
(Cahier de Vers), vingt-cinq petits potaies, publics 1 

titre, sans date, sans indication de lieu et sans nom d'^diteur. 

Orthez, Imprimerie E. Paget {1905). 
pENsiE DES Jardins, prosc et vers. Paris, Soci£t^ du Merain I 

de France, 1906. 
L'Eglise HABiLLtE DE PEUiLLES, po&jes, Paris, Sod^t^ da ] 

Mercure de France, 1906. 
CLAiRitRES DANS LE CiEL, potaies, I90a-I906. {En DifU, 1 

Trislesses. Le Po^le el sa Femme. Poisies Diverses. L'E^iu 

Habillie de Fcuilks.) Paris, Socifit^ du Mercure de France, 

PoiMES Mesuh^s. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1908, 

(A smEtU, privately-printed edition only.) ' 

Ma Fille Bernadette, prose, Paris, Socift^ du Mercure de 

France, 1908. 
Les GfioRGiQtJES Chr£tiennes, poSnie. Paris, Soci^t^ do 

Mercure de France, 1912. 
Feuilles dans le Vent, prose et vers. (Miditati^mi. QueifM 

Hommes. Pomme d'Anis. La Br ibis Egarte.) Paris, 

SocifitS du Mercure de France, 1913. 

La Petite BiTE, com6die en un acte, en prose. Paris, Vanler, 

Appendix B 481 

Plusieurs Choses, poesies. Paris, Librairie de TArt Ind6pen- 
dant, 1894. 

PRBMiiRES LuEURS SUR LA CoLLiNB, podsies. Paris, Librairie 
de TArt Inddpendant, 1894. 

MoNNAiE DE Per, podsies et po^es en prose. Paris, Librairie 
de TArt Ind^pendant, 1894. 

Presque les Doigts aux Cl£s. Paris, Librairie de TArt 
Ind6pendant, 1895. 

Il Y A lA des Cris, podsies. Paris, Soci^t^ du Merctire de 
Prance, 1895. 

Ballades (ifa L^gftuie. Af65 L^geni^5), po^es en prose. Paris, 
Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1896. (R^impr. dans Bal- 
lades Francises, Pohmes et Ballades, i8g4'i8g6. Preface 
de Pierre Louys. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 

Ballades {La Mer. Les Cloches. Les Champs), po^es en 
prose. Paris, ^tion du "Livre d'Art et de TEpreuve," 
1896. (R^impr. dans Ballades Franqaises, Pohmes et Bal- 
lades, i8Q4-i8g6, Preface de Pierre Louys. Paris, Soci^t^ 
du Mercure de Prance, 1897.) 

Ballades (Les Saisons. Aux Champs, sur la Route et devant 
VAtre, Mes Ligendes. V Or age), po^es en prose. Paris, 
Sod^t^ du Mercure de France, 1896. (R^impr. dans 
Ballades Franqaises, Pohmes et Ballades, 1804-1806. Preface 
de Pierre Louys. Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de France, 

Ballades {Louis XI, Curieux Homme), po^es en prose. Paris, 
Soci^t6 du Mercure de Prance, 1896. (R^impr. dans 
Ballades Franqaises, Pohmes et Ballades, i8o4"i8o6. Pr^ace 
de Pierre Louys. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de France, 1897.) 

Ballades Pran^aises, premiere sSrie. Preface de Pierre 
Louys. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1897. 

MoNTAGNE. PoR^. Plaine. Mer. Ballades Franqaises, II* 

sSrie. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1898. 

482 Six French Poets 

Le Roman de Louis XI, Ballades Framaises, Til* sim. 

Paris, Soci^tg du Mercure de France, 1899. 

Les Idylles Antiques, Ballades Frantaises, JV serie. Thuk, 
Soci^te du Mercure de France, 1900. 

L'Amour MaBIN, Ballades Frantatses, V serie. Paris, Soci^ 
du Mercure de France, 1900. 

Paris Sentimental ou lk Roman de nos Vingt Ans, BaUadti 
Fraitfaises, VI' shie. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de France 

Les Hvukes de Feu, pr^c^& de Lucitnne, Ballades Fra%- 
(aises, VII* sirie. Paris, Society du Mercure de France 

Coxcomb ou l'Homme tout Nu ToMitf; du Paradis, Baltodea 
Framaises, VIII' serie. Pr6cM6de: Le Livre des Visions 
— Henri HI. Paris, Soci^tfi du Mercure de France, 1906. 

Ile-de-France (Paris), Ballades Frantaises, IX' serie. (Col- 
lection "Vers et Prose.") Paris, Figui&re (1908), 

Sadjt-Jean-aox-Bois. {Coucy-le-ChSteau el Jouv-en-Josas.) 
(Collection "Verset Prose.") Paris, Figuidre {1908). (Pli- 
vatcly printed.) 

MoRTCERF, Ballades Franqaises, X' sirie. Prdc&ii 1 

Eiude sur les Ballades Franqaises, par Louis Mandin. (Col- 
lection "Vers et Prose.") Paris, Figui^r (1909). 

La Tristresse de L'Homme, Ballades Francises. XI* iMil. 
Pr^c^d^ du : Re:pos de I'Ame au Bois de I'Haulil. (Collee- 
tion "Vers et Prose.") Paris, Figui^ {i9>o). 

L'AVBNTURE Eternelle, Ballades Franfoises, XII' s(rU~ 
Suivie de: En Gatinais. (Collection "Vers et Prose, "1, 
Paris, FiguiSre, 1911. 

Montlh£hv-la-Bataille, Ballades Fratifaises, XIII* 

Suivie de: L'Aventure EUmelle (Livre IT). (CoUectiaa 
"Vers et Prose.") Paris, Figui^, 1912. 

ViVRE BN Dieu, Ballades Franqaises, XIV* shie. Suivi 6»i. 
Naissance du Printemps d la Ferli-Afilon, et de L'Avemttat 

Appendix B 483 

Etemelle (Livre III). (Collection "Vers et Prose.") Paris, 
Figui^, 1912. 
Chansons pour me Consoler d'etre Heureux, Ballades 
Francises, XV' sMe. Suivies de: UAverUure EterneUe 
(Livre IV). (Collection "Vers et Prose. ") Paris, Figui^re, 

Choix de Ballades Pran^aises. (Collection "Vers et Prose.") 

Paris, Figui^re, 1913. 

Les Nocturnes, Ballades Franfaises, XVP sSrie. (Collection 

"Vers et Prose.") Paris, Figui^re, 1914. 

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Bersaucourt, Albert de : Conference sur Emile Verhaeren. 

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BoCr, Julius de : Emile Verhaeren. (Portrait par Th^ van 

R3rsselberghe et fac-simile d'autographe.) s. 1. n. d. (1907). 

(S^e, "Mannen en Vrouwen van beteekenis in onze 

dagen. ") 
Bosch, Firmin van den : Impressions de Litt£rature Con- 

TBMPORAiNE. Bruxelles, Vromont et Cie, 1905. 
Buisseret, Georges: L'Evolution Id£ologique d'Emile 

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easier, Jean: Les "Moines" d'Emile Verhaeren. Gand, 

Leliaer & Siffer, 1887. 
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"Thyrse," 1908. 
Guilbeaux, Henri : Emile Verhaeren. Venders, Wauthy, 1908. 
Hauser, Otto: Die Belgische Lyrik von 1880-1900. Gros- 

senhain, Bauxnert und Rouge, 1902. 

484 Six French Poets 

Heumami, Albert : Lb MouvementLitt£raibs Bblgk. 

Soci6t6 du Mercure de France, 1913- 
Horrent, Dfeir^: Ecbivains Belges d'Aujourd'Hui. Bna- 

elles, Lacomblez, 1904. 
Lemonnjer, Camille: La Vie Belge. Paris, E. Pasqnelk, 

Mockel, Albert : Emile Vehhaeren, Paris, Soci£t£ du Me- 

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Ramaekers, Georges: Euile Verhaeren. (I. L'Homine da 

Nord. II. L ' Homme Modeme.) Bruxelles, Editions de"Li 

Lutte," 1900. 
Reney, Georges: Physionomies Litt£rajres. Bruxelles, Df 

chenne et Cie., 1907. 
Schellenberg, E. A.: Emile Verhaeren. Leipzig, Xenioi- 

Verlag, 191 1. 
Schlaf, Johannes: Emile Verhaeren. Berlin & Leipng, 

Schuster & Loeffler, (1905). 
Smet, Abb^ Jos. de ; Emile Verhaeren, sa Vie kt ses CEdvres. 

Malines, 1909. 
Wenguerowa, Zinaida: Portraits Litt£raikes. (Tome 1.) 

Etude reproduite en partie dans le Grand Dictiociuut 

EncycIop61ique Russe, Edition Brokaus et Efron, tome sop- 

pl^mentaire I. Saint P^terabonrg, 1905. 
Zweig, Stefan: Emile Verhaeren. (Translated from ik 

German into EngUsh by J. Bithell.) London, Constable; 

Boston & New York, Houghton Mifflin Company. 1914. 
Bereaucourt, Albert de: CoNfiRENCE suR A. Samain, Pro- 

nonc£e le 4 D£cEM8RE 1907 AU Cebcle DBS Eiuoijum 

Catholiques du Luxemboorg. Paris, Bonvalot-Joinv, 

Bocquet, L&n : Albert Samain, SA Vie, son (Euvre. Awe 

un portrait et un autogr. Preface de Francis JanuiMS. 

Paris, Soci^t6 du Mercure de France, 1905. 
Coppfie, Francois: Mon Franc-Parler. (2* serit.) Pan, 

Lemeurre, 1894. 

Appendix B 485 

Jany, Alfred: Souvenirs. Paris, V. Lemasle, 1907. 

Vallette, Alfred : Albert Samain, notice dans Les Portraits du 
Prochain Siide. Paris, Girard, 1894. 

Delior, Paul : Reicy de Goushont et son (Euvre. Paris, So- 
d6t6 du Mercure de Prance, 1909. 

Denise, Louis: Remy de Gourmont, notice public dans Les 
Portraits du Prochain Steele. Paris, Girard, 1894. 

Esgombe, Paul : Pr£fer£nces. Paris, Soci6t6 du Mercure de 
France, 1913. 

Goflfin, Arnold: A Propos de Style et d'£sth£tique. Brux- 
elles, Soci^t6 Beige de Librairie, 1903. 

Miomandre, Francis de: Visages. Bruges, A. Herbert, 1907. 

Poinsot, M. C: Anthologie des Pontes Normands Con- 
TEMPORAINS. Paris, Floury, 1903. 

Querlon, Pierre de: Remy de Gourmont. (Opinions, docu- 
ments et une bibliographic par Ad. van Bever.) (S^rie 
"Les C6l€bnt6s d'Aujourdliui. ") Paris, Sansot, 1903. 

Vorluni, Giuseppe : Remy de Gourmont. Napoli, Detken & 
Rocholl, 191 1. 

Gourmont, Jean de : Henri de RIgnier et son CBuvre. Avec 
un portrait un autogr. (Bibliographic par Ad. van Bever.) 
(S^e "Les Hommes et les Id6es.") Paris, Soci^t^ du 
Mercure de France, 1908. 

L^utaud, Paul : Henri de R£gnier. (Biogr. prdcdd^ d'un 
portr. illustr. et autogr. suivie d'opinions et d'tme bibli- 
ographic par Ad. van Bever.) Paris, Sansot, 1904. 

Mauclair, Camille : Henri de R£gnier. Portraits du Prochain 
SiUle. Paris, Girard, 1894. 

Mockel, Albert : Propos de Litt£rature. Paris, Librairie de 
L'Art Inddpendant, 1894. 

Braun, Thomas: Des Pontes Simples: Francis Jammes. 
Bruxelles, "F^d^ration de Libre Esth^tique," 1900. 

Pilon, Edmond: Francis Jammes et le Sentiment de la 
Nature. (Bibliographic par Ad. van Bever.) (S^rie, 


Six French Poets 


"Les Hommes et les Id&s, ") Paris, Sod6t6 dn Mercii 

de Prance, i^3. 
Htisch, Paul-Armand : Paul Fort, notice dans Les Portrai 

du Prockain Siicle. Paris, Girard, 1894. 
Mandin, Louis : Etude suk les "Ballades Psak9aisbs"c 

Paul Fort. (Collection "Vers et Prose.") Paris, Fi| 

ui^, 1911. 
Beaunier, Andrd: La PoisiE Nouvelle. Paris, Soci^t^ d 

Mercure de France, 1902, 
Bever, Ad. van et L^autaud, Paul: Pontes d'Aujourd'hi 

(nouvelie &iition). Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prana 

1 910. 
Blum, L6on: En Lisant. Reflexions Critiques. Paris, Sodtfb 

d'Ed. Litter., 1906. 
Bordeaux, Henri: Les Ecrivains et les M(ecrs, Essais I 

Figurines (1897-1900). Paris, Plon, 1900. 
Brisson, Adolphe : Pointes S^ches. Paris, A. Colin, 18? 
Coulon, Marcel : TfimoiGNAGEs. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercoq 

de France, 1911. 
Deschamps, Gaston: La Vie et les Livres. (j* serie.) 

A. Colin, 1896. 
Doumic, Rene: Les Jeunes. Paris, Perrin, 1896. 
Duhamel, Georges: Les Pontes et la Po£sie (1912-1913); 

Paris, Soci^te du Mercure de France, 1914. 
Plorian-Parmentier : Toutes les Lvbes. (Anthologie Critiqi 

om^e de dessins ct de portraits, nouvelle sirie.) Pari 

Gastein-Serge (191 1)- 
Pons, Pierre: L'Ame Latine. Nos Maitres. Toulouse, 1903. 
Pons, Pierre: Le RivEiL de Pallas. Paris, Sansot, 1906. 
Gilbert, Eugene: Prance Bt Belgique. Paris, Plon, Nouiril 

et Cie., 1905. 
Gosse, Edmund: French Profiles. London, Heinemann, 1901^ 
Gregh, Fentand: La Fen£tsb Ouvektb. Paris, Pasquellaij 


Appendix B 487 

Hamel, A. G. Van: Hbt Lbtterkundig lbvbn van Prank- 

RijK. Amsterdam, Gids, 1907. 
Heumami, Albert : Lb Mouvement LirriRAiRB Belgb d'Ex- 

PRBSSiON PRANgAiSB DEPUis 1880. Paxis, Soci6t^ du 

Mercure de Prance, 191 3. 
Huret, Jules : EnquAtb sur l'Evolution Litt£rairb. Paris, 

Charpentier-Pasquelle, 1891. 
Key, Ellen: Sbelbn und Werke. Berlin, S. Pischer, 191 1. 
Kinon, Victor: Portraits d'Autburs. Bruxelles, Dechenne, 

Lasserre, Pierre : Lb Romantisme Pran^ais. Paris, Sod^t^ du 

Mercure de Prance, 1913. 
Lazare, Bernard: Pigures Contemporainbs. Paris, Perrin, 

Mercereau, Alexandre: La Litt£rature bt les Id£es Nou- 

VELLES. Paris, Pigui^; London, Stephen Swift, 191 2. 
Nouhuys, W. G. Van: Van over de Grezen, Studien en 

Critieken. Baam, Hollandia Drukkerij, 1906. 
Oppeln-Bronikowski, P. von : Das Junge Prankreich. Berlin, 

(Esterheld & Co., 1908. 
Pellissier, Georges : Etudes de Litt£rature Contemporainb. 

Paris, Perrin, 1898. 
Pellissier, Georges: Etudes de Litt£rature et de Morale 

Contemporainb. Paris, Perrin, 1905. 
Rett^, Adolphe : Lb Symbolisme. Paris, Librairie L4on Vanier, 

Rimestad, Christian : Pransk Poesi i det Nittende Aarhun- 

DREDB. Kopenhague, Det Schubotheske, 1906. 
Souza, Robert de: La Po£sib Populaire bt lb Ltrismb 

Sentimental. Paris, Soci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 1899. 
Tellier, Jules: Nos PoiTES. Paris, Despret, 1888. 
Thompson, Vance: Prench Portrafts. Boston, Richard C. 

Badger & Co., 1900; New York, Mitchell Kennerley, 


488 Six French Poets 

Velley^ Charles et Le Cardonnel, Georges: La LnrfRATUSB 
CoNTEMPORAiNB, 1905. Opinions des Ecrivains de ce 
Temps, Paris, Soci6t^ du Mercure de Prance, 1906. 

Vigi^-Lecoq, £. : La Po£sib Contemporaine (1884-1896). 
Paris, Soci6t^ du Mercure de Prance, 1897. 

Visan, Tancrdde de : L'Attitudb du Lyrismb Contbmporainb. 
Paris, Seci^t^ du Mercure de Prance, 191 1. 

Wyzewa, Th^odor de: Nos MaItrbs. Paris, Perrin, 1895. 

Zilliacus, Emil : Dbn Nyare Pranska Pobsin och Antiken. 
Helsingfors, Aktiebolaget Handelstryckeriet, 1905. 

Printed in the United States of America. 

'T^HE foUowing pages contain advertisements of 
'^ books by the same author or on kindred subjeds. 


Sword Blades and Poppy Seed 

opinions of Leading Reviewers 

ffoardi. Srj;: Uather, $/.jo 

" Against (he mullitadiDOUS array of daily verse our limes produce this 
Yolume utlere itself with a range and brilliancy wholly reraarlLabla. I cannot 
see that Miss Lowell's use of unrhymed vtri Iibri has been surpassed in 
English. Read ' The Captured Goddess,' ' Music,' and ■ The Precinct,' 
' Rochester,' a piece of niastercrafl in this kind. A wealth of subtleties and 
sympathies, gorgeously wroughl, full of macabre effects (as many of the 
poems are) and brilliantly worked ouL The things of splendor she has 
made she will hardly outdo in iheir kind." 

—Jaitfkau Priston PtaSody. Tin Boslon Herald. 

" For quaint pictorial exactitude and biiarrerie of color these poems re- 
mind one of Flemish masters and Dutch tulip gardens ; again, they are fine 
and fdjitaslic, like Veneliun glass : and Ihey are all curiously flooded with 
the moonlight of dreams. . . . Miss Lowell has a rematkc^le gift of what 
;hl call the dramatic-decorative. Her decorative imagery is intensely 
her draroalic pictures are in themselves vivid and bnlaslic 


decorations.'-- A'iiionii* 
" Rich baqr plays in plenliRil light 

.. jd color through her book." 
W. D. Hovulh, Harptr-i Magatint. 
an inleresiing preface, protests against poetry that 
which flings down its continents and seas, and leaves 

fbnnity to 

trsX of all, not merely to the charm, but to the sorceiy, almost the diablerie. 
of things, things wrought or moulded, swords, potleiy. arras, embroideries, or 
those natural objects, such as (uhps or irises, which seem like anticipations 
or reminiscences of art. The trait recalls Gaulier, Bal£ac,and D'Annunilo. 
" Miss Lowell's second gift is the luslihood and sparkle of her narrative 
. . . therobusmess.audcelebtityofthevcrse before which the imtrammelled 
narrahve sends and dances like a sail before the wind." 

— O. W. Firiiit, Tht Aation. 

ridge. Only in a few instances did Coleridge's imaginatian and music shine 
brighter and sing more strangely sweet" 

— Wtlliam SioHlty BraitkaiaUt. Boston Tranicript. 

" The book as a whole is notable for the organic relation it bears to life 

and to an. Miss Lowell can find authentic inspiration equally in the lapida- 

rian slanios of Henri de Rtgnier and in the color effects produced 1^ the 

flickine of the tail of the ereal northern Dike. Hel work is always vivid, 

le quaint phrase of an 

Tin New Republic. 


64-46 Kftli l.TanB» Haw Xiak 


Sword Blades and Poppy Seed 

Opinians ot leading Reviewers 

■■'Thf Book of Hours of Sbier Clolildc' ... is a pO«n 
Dutch religious pninting, clear, delighling m rich colors, and full of htunor. 
The whole book ... is full o( imBginalion and serious endcaior atla 

poetry."— T»r Ontitai, Laidoii. 

"The ^nuineness and freshnns of her ideas is, as a rule, in keepiog wrilb 
the genuine freshness of her poetry. Both of Ihcm are alive with petsonalily 
and the age which produced it. And for this reason, and because bcr ' un- 
rhymed (Sdences' are even more rounded and polished than ber fonnal 
stanzas, ' Sword Blades and Poppy Seed ' is full ot eloquent beauty." 

— Louis Untemeyer, Ckut^ffo Evtntng /Vjf. 

ft of elo- 


tt MUHt. 

"Miss Lowell has — besides her Gallic training— a natural | 
guence, a sense of rhythm, a sensitive appreciation of beauty, irony, and a 
facility in coining new images. ... 1 would mention these short poems as 
ecUu^bcauiihl. 'Miscast I," MiscasI II.' -Music," In a Garden.' -The 
rrics.' and for irony 'The Epitaph of a Young 
1 admirable piece of work." 
~ Richard AldtngtoH. T/u Egaiit, Lrmdon. 

the vigor and vividness of the writer's imagi- 
t bet rich vocabulary. ... ' Tbe Shadow ' Sbon 
five power." —London Tima. Liitrarji S^Umint, 

le rich in variety of technical eiperimeDL We do 

' In a Caslle ' 1 

" A volun 

n EnaUsh verse the device, which Kahn : 

bmiliariiBd in France, of me prose paragraph concealio(j rhythm andrfa^me. 

-"- — 1 irresponsibility are duunmiBtf 

le Basket 'in full." — /W/17 ai 

— Arikur Davam Fitlit, Ciitage DiaJ. 


PttUlttMn 64-66 Tilth Avanna Taw Tinfc 


A Dome of Many-Coloured Glass 

Baardi, $ 

"Cerfain of the monv graceful po«ms in this attractive volume were 
orlglnoUf published in the Atlantic MonDUjt and other leading maguines. 
AU have a pure lyrlcaJ quality thai u moat alluring, and the variety iu the 
veiKS is rFniatkabte. Not ihe least pleasing are the poems for dilldren, 
which are writleQ with Ihe simple grace thai is siagularlf childlike. The 
sonnets are especially good, showing the auihor's skill in handling this 
limited and intricate form of versiRcsdon. bul die thought back of die con- 

Buffalo Sxprm, B-fah, N. Y. 

"All the eiplanatiotis just otTered of the modem taste for reading verses 
are valid reasons for reading this Utde volume. The modernity of Ihe point 

of view is alleated by the Ones in the r ' -■ — -■ — " '-- 

instead of Victorian shocked protest o: 

and ambidon. which Ihe Factory oi 

praise we 

. The hitler 

iciation of all individuality 

slanias enliUed ' Fatigue/ 
the f^mpsea 
„ ., , , ruggle, disappointmeni, and 

dcspaJr of a very human personaUIy; for many of the poems are truly lyri- 
cal in Iheir fleeting hut searching revelations of their author's real (or as- 
sumed) experiences. From 'Venetian Glass,' ■ Dipsa,' 'A Fairy Talc,' 
■ Crowned,' and others, we can construct a painful history such as thai in 

Christina Rossetli's ' Monna Innominala,' a--" ■' ' =" —- ' -'^-— - 

in ' Behind a Wall,' ' The Fool Errant,' an< 

the unusually fine sonnets in the volume, espectally the one vrhidi 
Ixaulifully Ihe soundest view of practical religion in our day, called 'The 
iMcnp of Lik: "— Sfrinefltid ti^uiltcaii, Sfrag/Uld.Masi. 

" Miss Lowell has given expression In e: 
tboiuhts, inspired by a variety of subjects ai 
Uea^r—BustBH S^ndi^ Glail. 

" Delicate and beaudful as Ihe tracings of frost o: 

len read its cruel aftermath 
I Eliiabetb Ward Perkins.' 

J safer ground in admiring 

especially Ihe or ' ' ' 

many beautiful 
le of the loftiest 

" These poems arouse interest, and justHy it by die result Miss Lowell 
is the sister of President Lowell of Harvard. Her art. however, needs no 
reflection from such distinguished influence to make apparent its distinc- 
tion. Such verse as this is delightful, has a sort ofpersonal Havor.a loyally 
to the fundameolBls of life and nationality. . . . llie child poems are par- 
ticularly graceful." — Boiten S-utniKg T'aiucripl. BaiUn, Mall. 


FntiUabm 64-68 Tlftli AirmsM H«v Tork 


The LalesI Work of Ihc Foremosl Conlemporary Poets 

Spoon River AnthoIog;y 


i vcne in Ameticxn IiKr< 

" CrMioi Amcrlcin poiirj lince Whiimm't"— IFi/Zmji. M«ri« *«<►■. 

Rivers to the Sea 

By SARA TEASDALE aotk.iamo.tiJS: l"Ulur.%t.p> 

" It U PIKII7 of limpid, IkIuW quality. . . . The mntAt >» Ihnmr nf fk. _»« .... 

oraBLe tpcech, filliDg ipu ptia vith incviubleneH. 
pnniily >hauldda ; l£cy iing."— Rcrjyi lUirrcr. 

The Pilgrim Kings : Gteco and Goya and Other 
Poems of Spain 


bu pocDU cclcbnle Ihc gldrict of (be grciil anitu of th0 

The Song of Hugh Glass 


0, t'-'S' l"^*tr. tf-S" 

Vision of War 

Bv LINCOLN COLCORD CiBtk, ttmo.pjs ; itati^.U-so 

— BeittH Trattttr^. 

The Rocky Road to Dublin 

By JAMES STEPHENS Boards. tima.ttM 

The Gjngo and Other Poems 

Bv VACHEL LINDSAV CMk.imo.ti^.- 

" Wc <k< DO( know • young mar. oT iny mem protoiK Ihu Mr. Vulid Linduy la. 


rnbliahan 84-40 ?inh Atmm Www ToA