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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 4  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

Elsewhere in this biography is found this passage: "What decided him (to leave Rethel, where he was professor) was, perhaps, one of his impulses — strange, powerful, and much misunderstood — toward friendship. I have already alluded to the strength of the attachment he conceived for various comrades: one of his Dujardin cousins, Lucien Viotti and Arthur Rimbaud . . . Lucien Létinois, another of his attachments, was the son of a farmer, born at Coulommes, in the Ardennes. He was a tall, pale, slim, awkward youth, with a melancholy and simple air . . . the shepherd in a comic opera." Upon the death of this youth, Verlaine, "not being able," as writes Lepelletier, "like the Emperor Hadrian to erect a mausoleum in stone to this Ardennoise Antinous, he constructed Amour, a lyrical monument apparently indestructible."

It is curious to note that Mdlle. Mathilde Mauté, Verlaine's fiancée, who in 1870 could prattle to her lover, "J'ai demandé hier à maman comment on avait des enfants et elle m'a répondu que c'était quand on baisait un homme sur la bouche" would in a few short months calmly announce to the world, "que les sentiments de son man pour ce privilégié (Rimbaud) des Muses se muaient en une affection . . . trop vive!"

Arthur Rimbaud was a powerful factor in the downfall of Verlaine. A rascal, not without talent, he led the weak-willed poet from his home in Paris to a vagabond life in Belgium and England. Then, having completed his ruin, he succeeded in landing his erstwhile friend in prison and disappeared from Europe, later to reappear in the spectacular rôle of slave driver and trader in Northern Africa.

Verlaine never ceased to regret his wife, who was divorced from him in 1874. In his volume of prose, entitled Mémoires d'un Veuf, he writes of her as follows: "She was petite — small, with a fear of embonpoint; her toilet was almost simple, coquettish in a way, but very slightly so. I remember her always as dressed in gray or green — a tender green and somber gray, because of the indecisive color of her hair — which appeared to be of a luminous chestnut tint, and of her eyes of which one could hardly decide or even guess the color. She was good hearted, but truly vindictive and given to irredeemable hatreds. Her hands were little, and her forehead rather small, upon which a kiss was only to be lightly pressed to pass to other things. The blue flower of the veins about her temples was easily swollen by anger — not hasty, but premeditated — but for causes, which, after all, were pardonable. In sum, she was a wife worthy of any man, and although tempestuous at times, like the sea, like it she could be calm and gentle and altogether lovable."


Such was the heroine of La Bonne Chanson, a work which Lepelletier calls a stanza taken from the eternal poem of youthful love. Some years after her divorce Madame Verlaine married and became the mother of an interesting family. According to Frank Harris, in his Contemporary Portraits, she was alive in 1915 and about to publish her Memoirs.

Aside from the period of his infancy Verlaine was sober — for a time. This was an enforced sobriety of two years in jail. From the prison at Mons also dates what he was pleased to call his religious conversion. There be those who profess to find in the volume of Sagesse, begun about this period, "the most truly beautiful and Christian poems of all time." Granted, they may be Christian, but from another point of view Sagesse is the most puerile of all his works. Verlaine was incapable, mentally, of attaining, even approximately, the Christian ideal. Repentant (being sober and in prison) no doubt he was, but Christian, never.

Sagesse, however, serves by way of contrast to bring into bolder relief the strange, erotic work Parallèlement, whose verses appear to have been written alternately with those of Sagesse.

Apropos to this, Donos in his Verlaine Intime writes: "To the magic lantern of the Devil, Verlaine en train to compose Sagesse is obsessed with the lubrique vision of a certain chamber in Paris where his affectionate Rimbaud offered him one night a singular hospitality." And the poet turns from "My God to me has said," to compose:

"O chambre, as-tu gardé les spectres ridicules,
O plein de jour sale et de bruits d'araignées?

PAGE 4 OF 15.

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Applegate, B (1916). Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page4.    
	Retrieved , from La Nouvelle Décadence Web site:

MLA Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page4."    
	La Nouvelle Décadence. 1916.  < http://webspace >.

Turabian Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page4."     
	La Nouvelle Décadence. Available from
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Chicago Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song: Paul Verlaine   
	:Page4." 1916. 
	/verbioapp04.html (accessed ).

AUTHOR: Applegate, Bergen (1916).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page4".
TITLE OF WEBSITE: La Nouvelle Décadence.
PUBLISHER: Lannie Brockstein.
LAST UPDATED: January 1st, 2010.

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