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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 2  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

Sherard, another English writer, thus describes the glimpse he had of Verlaine as follows: "My first sight of this great, simple, beautiful poet and child was in the basement of a café . . . where there used to be singing, and where the poets gathered. Verlaine was drunk that night and as usual was dressed in rags. He had a false nose on his face (for it was carnival time) and he was piping on a little tin whistle. The spectacle had the terrible comedy touch of Aristophanes. It was tragedy made grotesque. The man had the head and face of Socrates, and here we saw Socrates playing the buffoon."

Such was the appearance of Paul Verlaine at the period of his greatest renown. A singular character indeed, but in every respect conforming to the accepted idea of a true poet — the cicada of life's short summer, with no thought for the future or care of the present, piping his haunting melodies on the warm air and falling dead at the roadside before the first frost. Pauvre Lelain!

To write of Verlaine, the man, one must first call to aid those men of science whose vocation is that of dealing with pathological subjects. These savants experience no difficulty in placing such a character in the proper category.

Even a pseudo-scientist, one such as Max Nordau, might be permitted to give expert (?) testimony. Let us examine the prisoner (or poet!) on trial for his reputation:

The Prosecutor: "Dr. Nordau, what in your opinion, is the mental responsibility of the subject now on trial?" Mein Herr, Dr. Max Nordau: "He is suffering from dementia — he is a paroxysmal dipsomaniac. Moral insanity, however, is not present. The subject sins through irresistible impulse. He is an Impulsivist."


The Prosecutor: "Are there any other phases of this malady?"

Mein Herr, Dr. Max Nordau: "Yes, morbid intensified eroticism. The subject is what scientific men call a circulaire, that is, he is a victim of that form of mental disease in which states of excitement and depression follow each other in regular succession. Circulaires are condemned by the very nature of their affliction to be vagabonds and thieves. Verlaine has been a vagabond all his life."

The Prosecutor: "Are there other symptoms of this mental malady?"

Mein Herr, Dr. Max Nordau: "Many. Most of Verlaine's poetry is mere grimoire. His language is often that of babes. He can not properly connect an adjective with a noun to save his life."

Further testimony on the part of the witness, Dr. Nordau, elicits the fact that there are some poems in Verlaine's répertoire that are, after all, really Kosher. For instance, there is that little song of only fifty words. It is called Chanson d'Automne. Merely a gust of October air sharpened in the gathering shadows of early twilight and blowing through the scant brown foliage of a forest tree. But the sigh! —

"Les sanglots longs
Des violons
De l'automne
Blessent mon cœur
D'une langueur

PAGE 2 OF 15.

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APA Style:
Applegate, B (1916). Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page2.    
	Retrieved , from La Nouvelle Décadence Web site:

MLA Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page2."    
	La Nouvelle Décadence. 1916.  < http://webspace >.

Turabian Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page2."     
	La Nouvelle Décadence. Available from
	/people/tl/lanouvelledecadence/verbioapp02.html. Internet; 
        accessed . 

Chicago Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song: Paul Verlaine   
	:Page2." 1916. 
	/verbioapp02.html (accessed ).

AUTHOR: Applegate, Bergen (1916).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page2".
TITLE OF WEBSITE: La Nouvelle Décadence.
PUBLISHER: Lannie Brockstein.
LAST UPDATED: January 1st, 2010.

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