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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 8  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

The year 1870 was the Terrible Year for France. The country was filled with rumors of war. The date of the wedding had been set for the month of August, but before it took place hostilities had already begun. With what disaster and defeat! With MacMahon in full flight and the Prussians advancing on Paris, amid the noise of regiments defiling along the boulevards, the nuptials were celebrated at the church of Notre Dame de Cligmancourt. Among those present was Louise Michel, then a schoolmistress at Montmartre.

Of the poet at this time Lepelletier says: "He had hope and faith; marriage for him was a true sacrament, an initiation of the soul. He had never loved, never been loved before. It was the most wonderful moment in his life."

It was during the first year of his marriage that Verlaine published, through Lemerre, his third book of poems, La Bonne Chanson. "A flower in a bombshell," Victor Hugo called it.

While the Verlaines celebrated their honeymoon at No. 2 Rue du Cardinal-Lemoine, where they had begun housekeeping, Paris was invested and the Commune raged. Things were topsyturvy at the Hotel-de-Ville, and a cloud "bigger than a man's hand" had darkened their foyer — conjugal incompatibility! The poet deserted his clerical post (or rather failed to follow M. Thiers to Versailles) and shouldering a carbine mounted guard in defense of the city, in the 160th battalion of the Rapée-Bercy. This was during the winter, 1870-71.

The weather was desperately cold, and the citizen soldier, in consequence, developed a desperate thirst. Before long, he began to go home drunk, some say to beat his wife. Howbeit, the roses of August had shed their petals, and the Prussian guns had driven the bluebird far away. The young wife fled also, going to the home of her parents. Thither the poet followed, and a temporary reconciliation took place. The poet went back to the Hotel-de-Ville in the spring, but during the summer took his wife to the country, returning in September. Through his neglect, notwithstanding that order had been restored in Paris, he lost his clerkship. For a time the couple lived with the wife's parents, where their son, Georges, was born, and where, one fatal day, the devil entered in the form of Arthur Rimbaud.


This singular genius was born at Charleville, France, in 1854, and at the time of his meeting with Verlaine was a lad of seventeen. He was precocious, and as a schoolboy had composed a number of bizarre poems. The Poèmes Saturniens having come to his notice, he wrote the author a flattering letter, and the impressionable Verlaine invited him to visit Paris. Paul and his wife were still living with the latter's parents, and the introduction of Rimbaud into their home was a fresh cause of discord.

Rimbaud proved himself a drunken visionary and scoundrel, and in July, 1872, the two friends decamped from Paris, going to Belgium where they led a vagabond existence. They also visited England, living in London for several months upon funds supplied by Verlaine's mother, eked out by a pittance earned from giving French lessons.

In June, 1873, Verlaine and Rimbaud were back in Belgium, where Paul's mother awaited him in Brussels. Lepelletier writes: "Verlaine's psychological state at this period was distressing, almost morbid. I have already said that he detested and adored his wife. Alternately he cried for her, longed for her, cursed and overwhelmed her with reproaches and insults from afar."

Association with Rimbaud had ruined him morally and physically. A hopeless dipsomaniac, he was on the verge of delirium tremens. The two men quarreled in a room at the hotel de Courtrai, Brussels, in the presence of Verlaine's mother. The poet, forthwith, drew a pistol and fired two shots at Rimbaud, intent on killing the man whose baneful influence had aided so much in completing his downfall. Save a slight wound in the wrist, Rimbaud was unhurt. A few hours later, as Rimbaud was being accompanied to the train for Charleville by Verlaine and his mother, a reconciliation having taken place between the two men, the poet made another ineffectual attempt upon the life of Rimbaud.

Arrested as an assassin, he was lodged in a local prison, l'Amigo, and later sentenced to two years imprisonment at Mons. During his incarceration, Verlaine's wife obtained a divorce.

PAGE 8 OF 15.

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Applegate, B (1916). Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page8.    
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Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page8."    
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Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page8."     
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Chicago Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song: Paul Verlaine   
	:Page8." 1916. 
	/verbioapp08.html (accessed ).

AUTHOR: Applegate, Bergen (1916).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page8".
TITLE OF WEBSITE: La Nouvelle Décadence.
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LAST UPDATED: January 1st, 2010.

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