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Impressions and opinions: A Great Poet (Verlaine), Page 3  
by George Moore (1913). Page protected by Copyscape DO NOT COPY

In speaking of Verlaine, in my book Confessions of a Young Man, I spoke of his devotional poems as being the result of poetic calculations; their originality I said was attained, as Edgar Poe puts it, negatively rather than affirmatively. Perhaps this is not quite clear. In one of his essays Edgar Poe says that no one is original by temperament; that we become original by a deliberate effort of reason, by desiring originality, and declining to write in this way and that way, because these methods have been appropriated by other writers, and not because they are unnatural to us. When I wrote the Confessions I was only slightly acquainted with Verlaine's later work, and being at a loss to reconcile beautiful, pitiful pleas for pardon addressed to Jesus Christ and His Holy Mother with the well-known disorder of his life, I hastily concluded that Verlaine was a striking exemplification of Poe's theory of originality and how it may be acquired. I have since discovered that I was mistaken. Nature is more subtle than our logic, even more subtle than Poe's. Verlaine believes in the Roman Catholic Church as earnestly as the Pope himself, but in Verlaine there is only belief — practice is wholly wanting in him. Nor do I think he ever quite realises how he lives or how he writes. For, after having given us an abominable description in abominable language of the sonnet he was pondering, after having sent my poor friend away in despair, Verlaine sent him that most divinely beautiful sonnet which I quote in the book already referred to. It is a pleasure to quote it again: —

"Parsifal a vaincu les Filles, leur gentil
Babil et la luxure amusante — et sa pente
Vers la Chair de garçon vierge que cela tente
D'aimer les seins légers et ce gentil babil.

"Il a vaincu la Femme belle, au cœur subtil,
Etalant ses bras frais et sa gorge excitante;
Il a vaincu I'Enfer et rentre sous la tente
Avec un lourd trophée à son bras puéril.


"Avec la lance qui perça le Flanc suprême!
Il a guéri le roi, le voici roi lui-même
Et pretre du très saint Trésor essentiel.

"En robe d'or il adore, gloire et symbole,
Le vase pur où resplendit le sang réel.
— Et, ô ces voix d'enfants chantant dans la coupole!"

At first it would seem that these verses had been laboriously hammered out and cautiously filed. The false rhyme so exquisitely placed in the middle of the twelfth line, the total suppression of the cæsura, with the sixth syllable falling upon the first syllable of adore, the daring originality of following up this verse with another constructed, so far as the cæsura is concerned, in exactly the same manner, and the hiatus in the last line, seem to announce premeditated art; but I am convinced that this is not so. I feel sure that these strange cadences are an integral part of the man's ear, and are as spontaneous and unconscious as the thought. In Verlaine, mental and corporeal life are distinct and separable things working almost unconsciously of each other. Nevertheless, these verses, although found in his last volume, Amour, are in a measure a survival, a recrudescence of the complex forms of Les Fêtes Galantes; for as Verlaine's art developed it grew simpler, until it reached the colloquial naturalness of Wordsworth. For instance, that more than beautiful poem A la gare d'Auteuil, beginning:

"Ame, te souvient-il, au fond du paradis,
De la gare d'Auteuil et des trains de jadis
T'amenant chaque jour, venus de La Chapelle?"

and ending with the strange enchantment of the line:

"Mon pauvre enfant, ta voix dans le Bois de Boulogne!"

PAGE 3 OF 4.

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Moore, G (1913). Impressions and opinions: A Great Poet (Verlaine)   
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Chicago Style:
Moore, George. "Impressions and opinions: A Great Poet (Verlaine)   
	:Page3." 1913. 
	/lanouvelledecadence/verbiomoo03.html (accessed 

AUTHOR: Moore, George (1913).
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