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: —
"Avec la lance qui perça le Flanc suprême!
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AUTHOR: Moore, George (1913).
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