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Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song, Page 11  
by Bergen Applegate (1916). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

Verlaine is entirely untrammeled by any conventional theories of composition. He moulds the language at his will. "Always the poet of instinct or impulse, verse to him is a spontaneous expression of feeling, conscious of no literary tradition and developing no consecutive thought," to quote Prof. Wells.

Lemaître, who, next to Prof. René Doumic, is the poet's severist critic, says that he uses the language "not like a great writer because he knows it, but like a child because he is ignorant of it. He gives wrong senses to words in his simplicity. . . He scarcely ever expresses movements of full consciousness or entire sanity. It is on this account, very often, that the meaning of his song is clear — if it is so at all — to himself alone. In the same way, his rhythms are sometimes perceptible by no one but himself."

For those who read them in the original language, those poems commonly most enjoyed are found in Poemes Saturniens, Fêtes Galantes, La Bonne Chanson, Romances Sans Paroles, and some of the poems in Sagesse and Jadis et Naguère.

From whence came the inspiration of the charming Fêtes Galantes, it would be difficult to say. Some writers profess that this, the chef d'œuvre of the school of the Parnassiens, was inspired by Victor Hugo's La Fête Chez Thérèse; others that Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream is the source. Lepelletier hazarding a guess, sums up his conclusions as follows: "No borrowed inspiration is to be found here; it is a synthesis of the art of the eighteenth century, a presentation of the manners, conversations and diversions of that dainty and superficial period."

Prof. Wells (Sewanee Review, 1895) writes: "To catch the grace of L'Allée or of Columbine, one must know a little of Parny and much of Watteau, for the former poem is a Dresden shepherdess in Fin de Siècle Alexandrines and the latter is her joyous companion in a song measure that might have charmed Banville himself."


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This is what George Moore says of the poet: "Never shall I forget the first enchantment of Les Fêtes Galantes. Here all is twilight. The royal magnificences of the sunset have passed; the solemn beatitude of the night is at hand, but not yet here; the ways are veiled with shadow and lit with dresses, white, that the hour has touched with blue, yellow, green, mauve, and undecided purple; the voices? strange contraltos; the forms? not those of men or women, but mystic, hybrid creatures, with hands nervous and pale, and eyes charged with eager and fitful light . . . 'tin soir équivoque d'automne' . . . 'les belles pendent rêveuses à nos bras' . . . and they whisper 'les mots spécieux et tout bas'."

"Gautier sang to his antique lyre praise of the flesh and contempt of the soul; Baudelaire on a medieval organ chanted his unbelief in goodness and truth and his hatred of life. But Verlaine advances a step further: hate is to him as commonplace as love, unfaith as vulgar as faith. The world is merely a doll to be attired today in a modern ball dress, tomorrow in aureoles and stars. The Virgin is a pretty thing, worth a poem, but it would be quite too silly to talk about belief or unbelief; Christ in wood or plaster we have heard too much of, but Christ in painted glass amid crosiers and Latin terminations, is an amusing subject for poetry. And strangely enough, a withdrawal from all commerce with virtue and vice is, it would seem, a licentiousness more curiously subtle and penetrating than any other; and the licentiousness of the verse is equal to that of the emotion; every natural instinct of the language is violated, and the simple music native in French metre is replaced by falsetto notes sharp and intense. The charm is that of an odor of iris exhaled by some ideal tissues, or of a missal in a gold case, a precious relic of the pomp and ritual of an archbishop of Persepolis."

From these "little biscuit" figures that might well be entitled Water Colors for a Fan — from these "twenty little pieces of verse, steeped to the lips in the French dixhuitième siècles perfumed and gilded atmosphere," La Bonne Chanson, which follows, is like a nuptial chime, which in truth it is.

PAGE 11 OF 15.

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Applegate, B (1916). Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page11.    
	Retrieved , from La Nouvelle Décadence Web site: 
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        /verbioapp11.html
        
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MLA Style:
Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page11."    
	La Nouvelle Décadence. 1916.  < http://webspace
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Applegate, Bergen. "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page11."     
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	/people/tl/lanouvelledecadence/verbioapp11.html. Internet; 
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	:Page11." 1916.http://webspace.webring.com/people/tl/lanouvelledecadence 
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ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
AUTHOR: Applegate, Bergen (1916).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: "Paul Verlaine: His Absinthe Tinted Song:Page11".
TITLE OF WEBSITE: La Nouvelle Décadence.
PUBLISHER: Lannie Brockstein.
LAST UPDATED: January 1st, 2010.
URL: http://webspace.webring.com/people/tl
/lanouvelledecadence/verbioapp11.html
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