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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 9  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

During his enforced sojourn at Mons the poet's fourth volume, the Romances Sans Paroles (Romances Without Words) was printed by his friend Lepelletier. This exquisite collection of poems was unnoticed by the press. Verlaine was tabooed in Paris. His name was synonymous with shame.

For five years after his release from prison in 1875, the poet led a wandering existence. He was by turns country school teacher in England, professor in an ecclesiastical college in France, and farmer at Coulommes, with Lucien Létinios. He drank, squandered his mother's small fortune, and failed in everything. Paris had long since forgotten him. His faithful mother was his only friend. As one writer says, Verlaine was "irregular in everything and a vagrant even in intellect."

The poet was back in Paris in 1881, where Victor Palme, a Catholic publisher, brought out his Sagesse. The work attracted little notice, and the publisher, having in the meantime learned something of the author's life, destroyed the entire edition. Verlaine, endeavoring to support himself and mother by literary work, was aided greatly by his friend, Lepelletier, then editor of the Réveil. The poet was for a period on the regular staff of this paper, his work consisting mainly of short sketches which were collected in a prose volume entitled, Les Mémoires d'un Veuf (The Memories of a Widower).

Upon his return to Paris, the poet had found new faces and new writers. His boyhood friends had disappeared, or, becoming famous, had left their Bohemian days behind. Younger writers were forming the symbolic school, later to group themselves under the black flag of the Décadents. The Parnassiens of '68 had been hooted off the stage, and Verlaine, later to become chief bonze of this new school, was then almost unknown.

He began to be seen at the Brasserie Bergère and in the cafés of the Quartier Latin, where he was usually accompanied by Germain Noveau, and where he met many new faces. His singular appearance and capacity for drink doubtless inspired more attention than his genius as a poet. Suddenly leaving the city with his mother, the poet again took up farming near the scene of his former failure, and it was during this period (1883-84) that he was sentenced to a month's imprisonment for threatening, during a fit of drunkenness, the life of this devoted parent.


We find him back in Paris the following year, in company with his mother, who forgave him everything, but the poor woman, worn with sorrow, did not long survive, dying in January, 1886. The poet was now alone. He was ruined in finances, and his health was rapidly failing. Attacked with gout, his muscles atrophied, and his joints grew stiff. He could hardly walk. His last cent spent, he became an object of charity. With each recurring attack of rheumatism, the Municipality sent him to some hospital, so that practically the last years of his life were spent in the charity wards of these institutions. He had become famous, and as "Poor Lelain" filled much space in the papers. During one of his periods of convalescence he made a lecturing tour through Belgium, where he was everywhere received with becoming deference.

Besides various fragments in prose, biographies, travel notes and fantasies, his publisher, Vanier, brought out successively, in Verlaine's last years, several thin volumes of poems, none of which, however, equaled in literary value his earlier work.

"All things come to him who asks for nothing" — even death. The Green Fairy that had so long presided at his hours flew off one day. It was another Shape — something dark, something foreboding, that frightened it Verlaine was again sober, but ill. The doctor came, looked into his face — that face "devoured by dreams, feverish and somnolent" and went away, snaking his head. The next day, January 8, 1896, the poet died.

Friends began to appear at the little furnished apartment on the rue Descartes, presided over by Eugénie Krantz, known sometimes as Nini-Mouton. This was the poet's last earthly asylum. Thanks to his mistress, he did not die in the hospital.

When all was over, a doctor who examined the body said, "the deceased had at least ten mortal maladies — he was worn out — the mere husk of a human being!"

A death mask was taken by the mouleur Méoni, and the expense of the funeral, which took place at the church, Saint-Etienne-du-Mont, was borne by friends, assisted by the State.

The poet was fifty-two years old when he died.

PAGE 9 OF 15.

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TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page9".
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