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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 3  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

Is there anything in literature to rival it? Is it not worth many pages of so-called scientific writing? Dr. Nordau confesses: "Even if literally translated there remains something of the melancholy magic of the lines, which in French are so rhythmical and full of music." Then there is the poem in La Bonne Chanson beginning:

"Avant que tu ne t'en ailles,"

and that other world known poem in Romances Sans Paroles, the first stanza of which,

"Il pleure dans mon cœur
Comme il pleut sur la ville.
Quelle est cette langueur
Qui pénètre mon cœur?

has wept in so many, many hearts. Well may Dr. Max pause in his senseless tirade against Décadents to proclaim these poems the faultless pearls among French lyrics.

But as to Nordau's characterization of Verlaine, all had been said, and better, by Lombroso, from whose book "The Man of Genius" Nordau filched without stint. As to Verlaine, one can not discover a poet with a surgeon's scalpel or the chart of a neurologist.

It is unnecessary to endeavor to justify Verlaine's faults of character. Indeed, he makes no effort to excuse himself. On the contrary, he is continually debasing himself, but the psychological reason is not far to seek, for it has its origin in a kind of Masochism.


Drink was Verlaine's besetting sin. This habit he formed early in life. Writing of drunkenness in his Confessions, he says : "This absinthe! What horror, when I think of those days (his early manhood) . . . and of time not so remote . . . I repeat in all shame I shall have later to tell of many absurdities (and worse) due to the abuse of this horrible drink; this abuse itself, source of folly and of crime, of idiocies and of shame. The governments should suppress this absinthe — and why not?"

Truly his life was steeped in l'herbe sainte. During his latter days (save when in some hospital) he seldom drew a sober breath. The deep melancholy, the sad languors, the frightful ennui, the stormy scenes with friends or with his numerous mistresses, all these were due to drink. The estrangement with his wife, his vagabond wanderings with Arthur Rimbaud and his subsequent imprisonment at Mons were due to the same cause.

When sober the poet was kindly, tractable and good natured and had the faculty of making friends who sympathized with his unfortunate temperament. One of them, Edmond Lepelletier, a brave and good man, who was later to become his biographer, has done much to dispel the evil report that had its rise at the time the poet was divorced from his wife, and which clung to him through life.

Writing of this in his biography of the poet, Lepelletier says: "A legend grew up around him; all the more persistent and enduring from the fact that Verlaine himself was largely its author, and dug the grave of his own reputation. His disciples widely disseminated the gospel of depravity it amused him to preach."

PAGE 3 OF 15.

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Applegate, B (1916). Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page3.    
	Retrieved , from La Nouvelle Décadence Web site:

MLA Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page3."    
	La Nouvelle Décadence. 1916.  < http://webspace >.

Turabian Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page3."     
	La Nouvelle Décadence. Available from
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Chicago Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song: Paul Verlaine   
	:Page3." 1916. 
	/verbioapp03.html (accessed ).

AUTHOR: Applegate, Bergen (1916).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page3".
TITLE OF WEBSITE: La Nouvelle Décadence.
PUBLISHER: Lannie Brockstein.
LAST UPDATED: January 1st, 2010.

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