Impressions and Opinions: Two Unknown Poets, Page 4|
by George Moore (1913).
I think that even these, the first twenty lines of Le Miracle des Roses, testify a style, full of grace and fancy, and incurably his own. Nor can I easily imagine anything more wilful than his evocation of this watering-place, and the story sketched with crow-quill pen and mauve ink — the story of the consumptive Ruth, dying amid tea-roses, the blood-red roses that she loves having been forbidden her. Nor can we help being doubly attracted to this story when we consider its significance and its foretelling of the poet's own end. For if Rimbaud's fulgurant verses correspond to the passions that forced him to fly from life and hide his soul in a convent, Laforgue's fancies harmonise equally with the facts of his blameless and sad existence, so sad and so little. We know that he was reader to the Empress of Germany — happy indeed was the selection; and we envy more than the bauble of her wealth the hours she passed with Laforgue. One winter's day in Berlin, Jules saw a girl skating as none ever skated before — the grace of the waist, the flowing boa, and the feet lifted beneath the dark skirt, filled him with happiness. The beautiful skater was an English girl. I hardly remember the name, but I know that it recalled Annabel Lee, as, indeed, the story of this love recalls a tale by Edgar Poe. He resigned his place as reader to the Empress and married; and he and the beautiful English girl came to Paris in the hope that literature would yield them a living. But Laforgue's genius was of the kind that wins the sympathy of the elect, and instead of making his living with his pen Jules grew more and more consumptive. I have heard that the young couple lived in a poor apartment — two or three rooms — and that the beautiful English girl, now stricken with the dreadful malady, passed between the rooms with tisanes. Friends climbed the high stairs to see them on Thursday evenings; a few admirers attended Jules's funeral, and published the volume he left in his desk, Les Moralités Légendaires; the girl died soon after — two or three months. How did she live during the brief interval, where is she buried? Nobody knows. Yet I have a very separate and complete sensation of these two little lives. I was their friend although I never saw them, and I shall not forget them, though I never visit their forgotten graves, nor shall I cease to cherish L'Imitation de Notre Dame la Lune and Les Fleurs de Bonne Volonté, though the ordinary readers of verse allow these books to lie in the limbo of embryonic things.
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