The stage of p owers ripening, growing, solidifying. His part is taken ; he has learnt his peculiar medium, and formulated his ideas. His final volumes, many though they are, merely show him writing still remarkable poems along the lines he has chosen. There is no diminution of his genius, and his fecundity is extraordinary. Four volumes of poems entitled Toute la Flandre, appeared at intervals from to And there are one or two other small volumes.
Remember, Verhaeren has written twenty-three volumes of poems, and to speak of them all in detail would require an entire volume. I only wish it were possible to give something from each of these books. It will show that Verhaeren has 46 Six French Poets lost nothing of his great vigour, and that the rage for justice which made him a socialist still burns in him. What Verhaeren has done for poetry is this. He has made it realize the modern world. He has shown the grandeur of everyday life, and made us understand that science and art are never at variance.
He has shown that civic consciousness is not neces- sarily dry and sterile, but can be as romantic as an individual. And he has done all this without once saying it directly, by force of the greatest and most complete art. Then we were engaged with a great poet. A man of large and exuberant nature, whose work was remarkable for its originality, force, dramatic power, and fecundity. Now we are going to con- sider a minor poet of delicate and graceful talent, whose entire poetical output is contained in three volumes.
It is chamber-music, as tenuous and plaintive as that played by old eighteenth century orchestras, with their viole da gatnba and haut- bois d' amour. Albert Samain would seem to lack his century, were it not that one cannot help feeling that in no century would the shy, solitary, diffident man have been at home. Centuries are strangely alike for those living them, they only change their values when their outlines are blurred by distance. The qualities which make a man great are the same in all ages. Samain would have been a minor poet in the ninth century as he was in the nineteenth.
In the biography of the poet by L4on Bocquet, there is a preface by Francis Jammes. His arm had the elegant ges- ture of a stork which moves its foot backward. His face and body were slender. At times his blue eyes, behind his glasses, became heavenly, that is to say they looked up and whitened. Albert Samain was a swan. I am hardly expressing myself figuratively here.
He had the harmonious stiffness and the gaze of a swan. Not the sharp, furious, wounded gaze of the bird of prey, but the impassive gaze of the sacred bird which flies, in high relief, on the frieze of some temple, the gaze which only re- flects the appearcuice of things floating away beneath it in the water of the stream. He had the cold and sad attitude of the swan too. Swan, the friend of shade. I see him, sailing, spread out, over the lake in Le Jardin de V Infante.
He does not listen to the whispers of this splendour which he himself has created, nor to the rising sea of his fame. He only listens to the bells of a church which ring in the distance — I do not know where, in a country which is not mine, in a country where the things are which one does not see. He only hears the chimes of this Flemish church, of this church in which an old woman is praying.
But the whole description, fanciful though it is, gives a Albert Samain 53 better picture of the man than pages of biography and straightforward analysis could do. Samain is said to have looked like a Spaniard, and certainly his photographs might be those of some Spanish grandee ; there is the haughty, spare figure of the Spaniard, and the sad, proud face of slender lines. We must not forget that Flanders was for some time owned by Spain, and that Lille only became a part of France in , when Louis XIV besieged it and forced it to surrender.
His family belonged to the large class of the minor bourgeoisie. Noblesse oblige, whether another trait of his Spanish ancestor or merely derived from the fine thriftiness of the French bourgeoisie, was always strong in Samain. He left school and entered the office of a banker, where he seems to have held the position of errand-boy.
From there he went into the business of sugar-broking, in what capacity is not stated, but it would seem to have been at the bottom of the ladder, as was natural at his age. In spite of his twelve hours of work there were off times — the twelve other hours, only some of which could be spent in sleep ; and the Sunday afternoons.
A provincial town offers very little in the way of amusement to an intelligent young man. Samain was hardly the sort of fellow to enjoy cock-fights, or find pleasure in lounging in Albert Samain 55 caf4s ogling the passers-by. There was the Museum, but museums do not last forever as an inspiring relaxation, and for a young fellow of eighteen or thereabouts wandering round a museum is usually a lonely joy.
The boys with whom he had gone to school had passed on to the University; and besides, what could they have to do with an under- clerk in a business house! Samain was too proud to push against cold shoulders. He simply with- drew more and more into himself, and laid the foundation for that sadness from which he could never afterwards entirely free himself.
If circumstances separated him from his old schoolfellows, his tastes and also his taste re- moved him from his fellow clerks. A single friend he made, however — a M. Victor Lemoigne. This man not only was his friend, he believed in him, a precious necessity to a young writer. For Samain at last confided to him that he wrote verses. It must have been the greatest comfort to tell some- body, for Samain had been writing in silence and solitude for some time.
But he had not only been writing, he had been training himself for a writer, and in that best of all methods, studying foreign tongues. If there were no amusements in Lille, there was at least a library. And in the absence of any other distractions Samain spent long hours there. Per- haps it was lucky that nothing else exerted a strong 56 Six French Poets enough pull to make his going there in the least difficult.
He studied, and endeavoured to complete his arrested education. Of course, he read rather vaguely, as people do without a teacher, but he succeeded in perfecting himself in Greek and Eng- lish so that he could read them both fluently. He delighted in English, and afterwards liked to give his poems English titles, and put English words into the middle of them. Edgar Allan Poe was one of his greatest admirations and inspirations. Years after he wrote: "I have been reading Poe this week. Decidedly, he must be classed among the greatest.
The power of his conceptions, the mag- nificence of his hypotheses, the marvellous force of his imagination, always contained and held in check by an extraordinary will, make him an almost unique figure in art. If the word perfection can ever be used, it is in such a case. He liked the poems which Samain showed him, and at once de- cided that the young man was sure of a glorious future. There is no doubt that these over-confident and admiring friends do a young writer eis much good as harm. Adverse or carping criticism often dis- courages to the point of sterilization, while even ill-judged praise gives confidence and the strength to go on.
But, as the desire to learn, to talk, to mix in an intellectual life, grew upon him, more and more did Samain find the life of a little clerk in the provinces insupportable. It is truer of France than of any other country that its capital is the centre of its entire intellectual life. Samain had paid a flying visit to Paris in , to see the Exposition.
Even more than at ordinary times, the Paris of an Exposition year dazzles, emd snaps, and glows. After his return to the wearisome dulness of Lille, Samciin thought of it cis the Mecca of all his dreams. It lured like the Pot of Gold at the end of the Rainbow. As luck would have it, in July, , his firm decided to send him to its Paris house.
He was to be only a transient addition, but he intended to stay if he could, and on express- ing this wish to his superiors it was acceded to, and his salary raised to francs a year. Here he was, transplanted to Paris, and with the exciting possibility of having some famous literary celebrity living just round the comer. Albert Samain was living in Paris, which, as a thought, must have given him considerable satisfaction; but the satisfaction began and ended in the realms of the idea.
Now, he was at his office from nine in the morning until after midnight. Only once or twice a week did he even have some hours of freedom in the evening. And then there was no energy left to do any good work. So Samain lived in Paris more solitarily than he had done in Lille, for there was no M. Lemoigne there. And he could not work so well because he had less time. They were not cheerful letters which he sent back to M. They were bitter, discouraged letters. He must change his business, there was no other way ; but to what? The faithful Lemoigne was instant in suggestion.
His friend must try journalism ; and, succeeding in that, have leisure for greater literary effort. It must have been a constant strain for Lemoigne to push his friend along, and his patience and effort were remarkable. Samain always held back, and was discouraged before he began. But Lemoigne firmly insisted. Poor Samain hastily wrote a paper on Offenbach and took it to the Figaro.
It was not liked. Then he wrote to the editors of Gil Bias, and the Beaumarchais. His letters were not an- swered. So that seemed to be an end to journalism in Paris. Samain was willing to give it up. Lemoigne was not. There was at this time in Lille a weekly called Le Bonhomme Flamand. It amounted to very little, as, of course, Lemoigne knew, but Samain must be printed. The quasi-English flavour of the pseudonym is interesting. Shortly afterwards, Le Bonhomme Flamand died a natural death.
Lemoigne to approve. Samain slipped back to his old solitary life, writing for himself alone. In July, , Mme. Samain joined her son in Paris. And from this time on they were never separated. For her sake he never married ; his salary was not enough to support two women. Later, his youngest brother Paul joined them; Alice, his sister, remaining behind in Lille where she had married. It was a quiet, family life they 6o Six French Poets lived in the little apartment, rue des Petits-Champs.
It was a safe, excellent life for a rising young clerk, sure of stepping up in his business from position to higher position, and finally attaining to a business of his own. But for a poet, how petty, how exacting! How painful to weary the brain all day with figures so that at night it cannot find words! Weak in many ways though Samain was, he never wavered in his firm resolution to write.
If he could only gain enough to keep his mother he would be satisfied ; for himself he only demanded a less fatiguing work, with more leisure. He watched, and watched, until he found something. And what he found wtis a small clerkship in the third bureau of the Depart- ment of Instruction, with a salary of francs a year. And it speaks excellently for Mme.
Samain that she apparently bore him no ill-will for so materially cutting down their income. The change was undoubtedly a good thing for Samain.
He was only obliged to be at his desk for seven hours a day, his colleagues were men of better education than those in the sugar house, and finding a copy of Boileau open upon the table of his chief gave him the feeling of being in a sympathetic atmosphere. But still, taking everything by and large, Samain could not feel very successful. He had left Lille, true ; he had got rid of the detested Albert Satnain 6i sugar-broking ; he was definitely settled in Paris.
And there was an end to his achievements. My only relations were with young men belonging to the business world. The momentary, hazarding exploits of a very young man. From his boyhood he had fed upon the Romantics ; Lamartine, Hugo, and Musset had been his gods. Two of these giants being un- happily dead and the third a very old man, he wor- shipped their belated shadows : Theodore de Banville and Jean Richepin. He sent a letter with an en- thusiastic ode to Banville, but the visit which Banville invited him to make in return was unfortunate in the extreme.
Banville carped and criticised, and Samain took flight never to go back again. Twice more, Samain was so ill-judged as to tempt Fate in this way. He sent letters to both Jean Richepin and Octave Feuillet. Both asked him to call, possibly the visits were repeated more than once, but they had no result. Samain was tasting the bitter lesson, that fecund intimacies fall from the lap of the gods, and are never the result of painstaking endeavour. Scunain gave up seeking access to celebrities and went back to his writing, still worshipping the dead authors who had not snubbed him, and writing dans 62 Six French Poets le goM d'avant-hier.
But, though Samain, alone in the quiet lamplit evenings, still bowed before the old shrines, other young men were more adventurous. Various hot bloods got up a society, or rather they organized a group, and called it Nous Autres. They met at a cabaret in Montmartre, and drank bocks, and disputed theories of art and letters, and undoubtedly damned every one who was not themselves, after the manner of young artists.
By and by, they changed cabarets, going to Le Chat Noir, and made it famous by their presence. A kind of vaudeville show was given there, and a series of silhouette plays, in a little puppet theatre, by Henri Riviere had a great vogue. A friend took Samain to one of these gatherings, and he soon became an habituA.
He read a part of his poem, Les Monts, there. Le Chat Noir had a little paper, and in the copy of it for December, , Tsilla appeared on the front page. Tsilla was apparently liked and praised by the frequenters of Le Chat Noir, and Samain wrote a satisfied and happy letter to M. Lemoigne on the strength of it. Rather pathetically he tells how he has been praised for the healthy quality of his verses, and hopes that he will be able to avoid the tnaladive contagion of the period.
Albert Samain 63 To my mind, TsUla is one of the dullest poems that ever was written, and gives no hint of the charm of some of his later work. It is the story of a young girl of antiquity that charming and con- venient antiquity so beloved of poets, which never existed anywhere, at any time , who loves an Angel. In a crisis of adventurousness, she urges the Angel to fly up in the sky, taking her with him, which he does, and they go so near to the rising sun that her black hair is turned to gold.
Owing to which acci- dent, she is the first woman in the world who ever had blond hair. The verses are no more interesting nor original than the story. If praise of such eui insignificant poem had been all that Samain got out of his cinacle of young poets, his frequenting it would have been a mere waste of time. But it was not all.
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He got a com- plete upheaval of ideas. He learnt that Lamartine emd Victor Hugo were vieux jeu, that Frangois Copp6e was not the last word in poetry to these young iconoclasts. He learnt that Verlaine and Mallarm6 were the proper objects of worship for an up-to-date poet. Any one who has listened to a set of young writers teciring down the generation which has preceded them, showing up all the faults it never knew it had, and sneering at the good points it undoubtedly has, can reproduce these evenings perfectly. But Samain was a young provincial.
All this talk disturbed him. This familiar scoffing 64 Six French Poets at names he considered the greatest in the world unsettled him. What should he do? Whom should he follow? For Samain must follow, he was as incapable of leadership as a man could well be. It is easy to be an iconoclast in French poetry. The classic metres are so exceedingly prescribed and confined that the least little change lands one in nonconformity. We can find them if we hunt, but to the naked perception they are lost in the general effect of conformity to metrical rules.
Yet, to Samain, his not always putting the caesura in the middle of the line, or failing to alternate mas- culine and feminine endings, or occasionally rhyming plurals with singulars all unalterable rules of French classic metre , must have seemed violent innovations indeed.
Brought up a Catholic, he had hitherto never doubted his faith ; now it tumbled off him like a shrivelled leaf. Scepticism, a state of mind pecul- Albert Samain 65 iarly unsuited to his temperament, swept over him. The realization that he had lost the support of religion, that its consolations could no longer com- fort him, was agony.
The idea, the resultant void, preoccupied him. He could no longer write, he could only worry and mourn. This was particularly unfortunate as he was at the moment composing the poems which afterwards made up Au Jar din de V Infante, his first volume, which was not published until six years later. In his state of mind, the hilarious and not over- refined pleasures of the literary cabarets were most distasteful. He was too straightforward and simple himself not to see through the poses cuid childish debauches of his coterie.
He withdrew from it, and retired once more within himself. But he was lonely, bitterly lonely. His brother Paul had been called to his military service, and once more he and his mother lived alone. His modest income of francs was not sufficient to enable him to think of marriage while he still had his mother to support. Whether Samain ever had a definite love story is not known. It seems hardly possible for him to have escaped such a usual happening ; but, at any rate, whether it weis a particular woman whom he gave up, or whether he merely resigned himself to bachelorhood in the ab- 66 Six French Poets stract, certain it is that Samain felt his life bor- dered and arranged, and that he looked forward to no bright happening to change it.
Samain adored him and was proud of him, but from his reticence about his work at home, she does not appear to have been fitted, either by edu- cation or natural ability, to be much of a help to him in it. Only seven hours a day at the H6tel de Ville, and the rest of the time his own! It hung heavy on his hands, and to distract himself he took to taking long walks about Paris. He would stroll along the Seine, turn- ing over the leaves of the books in the bouquiniste' s boxes on the parapets of the quais, amusing himself with the old engravings in the ten centimes boxes, breathing in the sharp scent of the river and the perfume of old, passed centuries ; he would wander in the once fashionable quarters of the town, now fallen from grace, and imagine the days when they were full of sedan chairs and elegant ladies.
His love for the faded, the graceful, vanished past, grew and solaced him. How many of his poems seem to be merely efforts to reproduce it, and so dwell in it for a few minutes! Side by side with these imaginative pleasures were others. He began to see nature, real nature, as it is even to-day. His walks in the suburbs gave him Albert Satnain 67 many a picture which he turned to account later in Aux Flancs du Vase. The splendid, differing sun- sets gave him infinite pleasure ; sometimes he would get into one of the bateaux mouches which go up and down the river, and watch the yellows and reds of the sunset repeat themselves in the water.
He had none of that modern spirit which enables one to see beauties in tram-cars and smoking chimneys, so he eliminated them from his thought. In love with beauty as he conceived it, he took the changing colours which all sorts of weather threw over Paris, and, eternal as they are, lit his pictures of other centuries with them.
Flowers were the only luxury he permitted 68 Six French Poets himself. His room was as bare as a cell in a monastery, neither painting nor engraving hung on the walls. Hung with velvet of steel- coloured grey, with blue lights in it. The rose- tinted ceiling fades off into mauve and has a large decorative design — Renaissance — in old silver, embossed at the comers.
Hangings hide the door. No windows ; the room only being used by artificial light. Near the floor, forming a base-board, a band of old silver openwork appUqued on the same velvet as the hangings, a flower design, with knots of pink pearl tassels at intervals. A carpet with a silver nap ; against one side of the wall, a divan of steel-grey velvet.
No movable furniture. An Etruscan armchair, made entirely of ebony, with silver nails. Negli- gently thrown over the armchair to soften the sharpness of the angles and the hardness of the wood, a grey bear skin. A lamp of old silver, mas- sive and slender, with a long neck of a clear shape, and without ornament. Shade of faded moss-rose Albert Samain 69 colour. Blotting pad of steel-grey morocco, with a heraldic device ; a penholder of old gold. A fireplace with a historical plaque over it — Renaissance, and andirons of wrought steel termi- nating in couched chimeras.
Three sides of the room are empty. In the comer opposite the table, on the wall, two metres from the ground, a console covered with steel-grey velvet supported by a Renais- sance chimera in iron. Upon the console, a great horn of crystal, very tapering, in which are two roses, one rose a sulphur yellow, one wine- coloured. In an alcove hidden by a curtain is a deep niche, bathed in the half-light of a gold altar lamp hanging by a little chain.
The globe of the lamp is made of pieces of many-coloured glass cut in facets so that they shine like great stones : ruby, sapphire, emerald. In the niche, which is hung with crimson velvet, on a column with a Doric capital, stands the Young Faun of Praxiteles. Lacking this room, why bother with engravings! Yet Samain never complained of the ugliness and meagreness of actual life. He only played his games on windy nights in his bare room.
It would be unjust to Samain to represent him as passing all his evenings wrapped in sugary 70 Six French Poets dreams. He studied science, history, philosophy. It is a curious fact, that he was one of the first men in France to recognize the genius of Nietzsche. In compensation for the many bitternesses of his life, beginning in came the happiness of two friendships. Samain made the acquaintance, and quickly became the intimate friend, of Paul Morisse and Raymond Bonheur.
Paul Morisse was a con- stant traveller, and with him Samain made his first considerable journey. The two friends went to Germany. They saw the Rhine, Bingen, Mayence, etc. Samain was charmed with all he saw. He possessed the gift of wonder ; an inestimable pos- session, by the way. Unfortunately it was hard to find money for these excursions. When the French Academy crowned his first book, he gave himself the present of a month at Lake Annecy. So at last we reach his first book, privately printed in , when the poet had passed his thirty- fifth birthday.
At this time the Mercure de France had just come into existence, and Samain was one of its founders. It was in the pages of the Mercure that most of his poems appeared. Samain never seems to have seriously considered collecting them into a book. Over-diffident and self-critical, he worked at them. Albert Samain 71 changed them, polished them. At rare intervals one was printed. Samain was in love with perfection, and very little that he did ever seemed to him worthy to leave his hands.
This excessive scrupulousness works both ways. A poem so treated gains in beauty, but frequently loses in vitality. There is great danger of its becoming a thing of mummied splendour. The poems I have seen in several states do seem to have gained technically in their final one, and to have parted with practically none of their original Ban.
Elan is too strong a word. Let us say rather, not that his poems lost by his treatment of them, but that the kind of man who could so treat them was of a slightly depressed, unvital temper. How consider- able a course of discipline he put them through can be imagined when I mention that, in the four ver- sions extant of a poem of twenty-eight lines, only four which were in the first version appear in the last.
But to return to that first volume. At the in- stance of M. Bonheur, Samain consented to print it. Not publish it, observe. It was issued in a charm- ing, privately printed edition. This was in October, Five months of reviewing and praise in the young reviews had not been able to do for Samain what the hun- dred lines from Frangois Copp6e did at once. It was celebrity, almost fame. The little, privately printed edition was quickly exhausted. Another was called for, and at last the book, Au Jardin de V Infante, was published. Still Samain was diffident, and when a third edition was needed, he hesitated again ; but the third edition came out three years after the first.
Anthologie des poètes français contemporains/Tome troisième - Wikisource
The book was given a prize by the French Academy, and Samain was one of the poets of the hour. There was nothing very new m Au Jardin de V Infante, it is true. The metre was the classic alexandrine, for the most part, varied by lighter, gayer rhythms equally well sanctioned. But the book was full of the shy, delicate personality of the poet.
Here were his sumptuous imaginings, and the haunting sadness which never quite left him. Here was his tenderness for lovely, fragile things ; his preoccupation with the past. Finally here was his love for English — the volume bore this motto from Edgar Allan Poe : Was it not Fate, that, on this July midnight — Was it not Fate whose name is also Sorrow Albert Samain 73 That bade me pause before that garden-gate To breathe the incense of those slumbering roses? Anx pieds de son fauteuil, allonges noblement. Mon Ame est une infante en robe de parade.
Albert Samain 75 Who, after reading that poem, could approach the book in other than a sympathetic mood? Is it by chance that he figures his soul under the guise of a Spanish Infanta ; or does he feel in him- self something exotic, un-French, something which is descended to him from those possible Spanish ancestors?
Yes, Samain has paraphrased himself in this poem — the haughty, noble, anachronistic self, hidden under the appearance of an insignificant government employee. Des roses encor! Je les adore k la souffrance. Elies ont la sombre attirance Des choses qui donnent la mort. Le pare est sombre comme un gouffre ,. These poems are as fragile as the golden crystals he speaks of. What do they give us?
It is impos- sible to say. A nuance, a colour, a vague magnifi- cence. La vitre est noire sous Taverse monotone. La ville est loin. Plus rien quto bruit sourd de voitures Qui meurt, m61ancolique, aux plis lourds des tentures. Ce soir, fto k Bergame au palais Lanzoli! Les couples enlaces descendent des gondoles. Flutes et cordes, Forchestre est conduit par Lulli. Notice how deftly the poet places his picture by speaking of Bergamo and the Lanzoli Palace.
And bringing in Lulli as a rhyme, is a delightful thing. Not Verlaine him- self has done a more beautiful eighteenth century picture, nor one which sings more gracefully. Est-ce k Venise, k Florence? Est-ce dans TIle-de-France? Qui salt? Sur le jardin diaphane Un demi-silence plane, Od toute rumeur profane Mourrait. Albert Samain 8i Le soir tombe. Des cygnes voguent par troupes. Au son des musiques lentes, Les Amoureuses dolentes Ralentissent, nonchalantes, Le pas. The whole volume is full of delicate, almost arti- ficial, light and shade; bells ring over still lakes, roses in cut glass vases mirror themselves in the marble tops of tables, silken skirts brush over polished floors, but — in the distance, everything is in the distance.
No one understands better than Samain how to give the emotion, the grandeur, or the tragedy, of an epoch, in the confines of a sonnet. Napoleon, sending to Corsica for his old nurse, so that she might be present at his Coro- nation, is one of those strange beauties which start up along his career. Mon fils! There are still two more poems which I must quote. They tell more about his poetry than any words of mine can do. Je rSve de vers doux mourant comme des roses.
These two poems together are an excellent analysis of his work. Good fortune did not change Samain. He was gentle, unaffected, painstaking, as before. He did not rush into print as the result of his success ; on the contrary, it was not until that his next book, Aux Flancs du Vase, was published. They only saw each other for these few days, and once, later, when Jammes came to Paris for a short stay, and wandered about the park of Versailles with Samain, but the memory of his friend has never left Jammes.
One of his most beautiful ElSgies is to Samain. These little journeys, including one to Italy, gave Samain great pleasure, and showed him more kinds of natural scenery than he had ever seen before. He complains of discomfort. This is the moment to follow up his success. But he is indifferent. His health is failing. Unhappily, the moment passes, and when the book comes out in , it goes almost unnoticed. Twenty-five little poems, of a singu- larly advised simplicity and charm. The scenes are set in a conventional antiquity by means of Greek names being given to the characters, and the whole, reminds one of a set of engravings by Boucher, or Fragonard, or Watteau.
Not paintings, but engravings, each set in an oval, and faintly coloured. It is a little boy struggling with a goat ; or a mother and child threading and bargaining their way through 88 Six French Poets a market; or a girl chasing and catching a frog. Que le pain bien coup6 remplisse les corbeilles, Et puis ferme la porte et chasse les abeilles. Dehors le soleil bride, et la muraille cuit. Rapprochons les volets, faisons presque la nuit. Maintenant, va puiser Peau fraiche dans la cour ; Et veiUe que surtout la cruche, k ton retour. Un voile aux mille plis la cache tout entidre. Et Pannyre devient fleur, flamme, papillon!
Tous se taisent ; les yeux la suivent en extase. Peu k peu la fureur de la danse Tembrase. Elle toume toujours ; vite I plus vite encore! Little dramas, they are, sufficient each one to itself with a perfect finality. And the delicacy with which they are done defies analysis.
They are trans- parent, hardly printing themselves upon the atmos- phere, like egg-shell china held to the light. And yet what movement they have! But there it is. While Samain was preparing this book for the press, his mother was taken ill. Sick himself, Samain nursed his mother and hung over her, fearing the event he dared not realize. It came in December, , and Samain was alone. His grief was desolating. His health, already extremely feeble, became worse.
Consumption de- clared itself. He must be got away from Paris and the five flights of stairs to his apartment. Ray- mond Bonheur took him to Villefranche, but the winds were too strong and he moved to Vence. In the Spring he is back in Paris, but no better. Still he starts to work again, and writes the little play in vexse.
The Winter was disastrous, his letters are full of his suffering. In the Spring, he paid a visit to his sister in Lille, but it rained all the time and he could not leave the house. Paris again, and the five flights almost impossible to negotiate. Then M. Bonheur, generous and dpvoted as always, took him to his own house at Magny-les-Hammeaux in the depart- ment of Seine-et-Oise. But Samain feared to be a burden on his friend, and after a few weeks as his guest insisted upon hiring a house on the other side of the road and moving into it, believing, with the invincible optimism of the consumptive, that he should get well, and that they would go to Italy together in the Autumn.
Albert Samain died on the i8th of August, , and was buried in his native town of Lille. In , appeared his last volume of poems, Le Chariot d'Or, and in , a volume of prose stories, entitled Contes, both collections due to the care and affection of his friends. Not so polished as the latter probably, nor so arti- ficially captivating as the former. But many of the poems seem to have a larger humanity.
The eighteenth century pieces are here, but more tenderly, more regretfully done. Groupes sur Therbe dans la brume. Pizzicati des violons. La mer est rose. Tout repose. Take these four sonnets on Versailles. Again, the artificiality has gone. The melancholy wears its natural complexion as it were, unpainted, and in No.
II is a fine irony, gentle, — the author is Samain — but healthy and keen. Voici tes ifs en c6ne et tes tritons joufflus, Tes jardins composes oti Louis ne vient plus, Et ta pompe arborant les plumes et les casques. II Grand air. Urbanite des fagons anciennes. Mains ducales dans les vieilles Valenciennes, Mains royales sur les 6pinettes. Antiennes Des 6v6ques devant Monseigneur le Dauphin. Albert Samain 95 Gestes de menuet et cxjeurs de biscuit fin ; Et ces graces que Ton disait Autrichiennes. Marquis de sdvres. O psyche de vieux saxe oii le Pass6 se mire. A new vigour, utterly foreign to the other volumes, is here.
Occasionally, something almost like humour and animal spirits creeps in. Panonceaux du notaire et plaque du docteur. H 98 Six French Poets There is certainly humour in the yellow diligence, and in the door-plates of the doctor and notary. La Cuisine is the most Flemish thing that Samain ever did.
D'un tas dliuftres vid6 d'un panier convert d'algues Monte Todeur du large et la fraicheur des vagues. Un trongon de saumon saigne et, vivant encor, Un grand homard de bronze, achet6 sur le port, Parmi la victuaille au hasard entass6e, Agite, agonisant, une antenne cass6e. One more quotation and I have done. It is a poem with the title Nocturne Provincial, and it is Albert Samain 99 modem — yes, modem, as we to-day understand the term — in subject, in treatment, even in its changing rhythms.
La nuit tardive, oh flotte encor de la lumihre. Tout est noir et desert aux anciens quartiers ; Mon kmey accoude-toi sur le vieux pont de pierre, Et respire la bonne odeur de la riviere. Le silence est si grand que mon coeur en frissonne. Seul, le bruit de mes pas sur le pav6 r6sonne. Le silence tressaille au coeur, et minuit sonne! Rubans bleus sur les pelerines ,. C'est le jardin des Ursulines. Albert Samain loi O secretes ardeurs des nuits provinciales!
Coeurs qui biiilent! Cheveux en d6sordre 6pandus! Grands appels suppliants, et jamais entendus! Le rideau fr61e au vent frissonne. La lampe meurt. Une heure sonne. Personne, personne, personne. There are other parts to the book. Parts not so interesting, not so different. We know that many of the poems in the volume date from the time of Au Jar din de V Infante.
Which ones are they? I wonder. Were the ones we think more modem really written later, or did Samain, at one time in his career, confuse art with artificiality, and elimi- nate these poems as less good than others? Have I shown him as he was: a genius, graceful, timid, proud, passionate, and reserved? Let me end by two quotations, descriptions, by men who knew him. The simplicity of his atti- tude and manners, the dignity of his life, could only add to the predilection his works had inspired.
But his life was shut like his soul, fastened as well. One could only, one would wish only, to distract it for brief moments. The rest resolves itself into the pure, tender, penetrating songs which are his books. I had the pleasure of meeting Albert Samain many times. He always showed himself reserved without affectation, the result of his distinguished and discreet nature. Souris-moi pour que je ne pleure pas. Viens encore.
Tu as soif? Voici de Teau de puits bleue et du vin. Je parle. Tu souris dW s6rieux sourire. Et tu me laisses dire. Le soir vient. Et nous longeons le gave. Je bavarde, Tu souris encore. Bonheur se tait. Ta mort ne change rien. Je ne regrette pas ta mort. Sur ta tombe, pareil k quelque pktre antique dont pleure le troupeau sur la pauvre colline, je chercherais en vain ce que je peux porter. Je songe k toi. Le jour baisse comme ce jour oti je te vis dans mon vieux salon de campagne.
Je songe aux montagnes natales. Je songe k ce Versailles oh tu me promenas, oh nous disions des vers, tristes et pas k pas. Je songe au vide pur des cieux. Je songe k Teau sans fin, k la clart6 des feux. Je songe k la ros4e qui brille sur les vignes. Je songe k moi. Je songe k Dieu.
He is the great teacher of certain effects, the instructor in verbal shades. No one has studied more carefully than he the sounds of vowels and consonants. Not even from his great teacher, Mallarm6, can more be learnt. As a producer of colour in words, he cedes to no one; his knowledge of the technique of poetry is un- surpassed. Of course, the danger to such a man is in the almost inevitable Jack-of-all- Trades result which such a multitude of avocations trails along with it.
It is heresy to whisper such a thing, but it cannot really be denied that in only one of these branches has Gourmont made himself supreme. But in that he has no equal. The aesthetic of the French language to borrow one of his own titles ; there he is on absolutely indis- putable ground.
Yet it would not be fair to give you the idea that he has done merely well along his other lines. Can a man so conversant with the art of writing ever write merely well? But the way he has written, no one can surpass him there ; and we, who try to write, mull over his pages for hours at a time, and endeavour to learn the lesson which he has analyzed and illus- trated for us.
Along with that is another lesson, written as clearly in his pages, of what not to do, of the necessity for singleness of purpose, of the terrible pitfall looming always before the man who is at once an artist and an insatiably curious person. Great, excessively great, people can do it. Leo- nardo da Vinci did it. He pulled the two characters along side by side, to the profit of both.
But Remy de Gourmont has not quite done it, and it is natural to suppose that the literary masterpieces he might have made have wasted away while he dabbled in science. Physique de V Amour is a most interesting volume on the sexual instinct in animals. But there are many books on the subject by others more competent for the task.
And I cannot help think- ing it a little odd that this should be the only purely scientific essay he has written. It cannot be denied that a man who plays perpetually upon an instrument of one string is confining himself within a very small musical compass. Yes, and no. But let us work up to these considera- tions gradually, and examine them in their proper place. He is the descendant of a remarkable family of painters, engravers, and printers, of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries.
One of the family, Gilles de Gourmont, was the first person in Paris to use Greek and Hebrew types in printing. Here he remained until , when an article of his called Le Joujou Patriotisme was too much for the authorities, and he lost his position. His first book, a novel called Merlette, appeared in , and very little of his real originality ap- peared in it, although it contained pleasant de- scriptions of Normandy. His next book, Sixtine, came out in Oh, the delightful book that Sixtine is! I remember reading it in a sort of breathless interest. The hero is a writer, and every- thing that happens to him he translates almost bodily into his work.
Two stories are carried on at the same time, the real one and the one he is writing. The chapters follow each other with no regular order, the reader only knows which story is which by the context, and the incidents of the written story are sometimes all he learns of the real story, which is taken up again later at a point farther on. But what a childish way to tell of a book so full of startling revolutionism! Sixtine is indeed a novel of the life of the brain.
Gourmont wishes to prove that the world is only a simulacrum, and the perception of it hallucinatory. But, incon- ceivable undercurrent though it has, it has an appear- ance of firm ground. And here is that wonderful writing, that gift of words. I will quote two passages from it, both in prose. The first of these passages is about a sort of ghostly apparition which appears in a mirror.
Etais-je dans ma chambre et dans mon lit? Vert lunaire — those words in hre are favourites with Gourmont, we shall meet them many times. Also, the green light of the moon is nice, and, inci- dentally, true. The other is the description of a Madonna over the door of a church in Naples. Retny de Gourmont Not only do we get the brilliance of the sunset lighting up the church and its Madonna, the sound is not sacrificed to the picture, extraordinarily vivid though that is.
Listen to the different vowel sounds before the Vs in auriole itoiUe ; and the s's, and ai sound, in the last line. Properly speaking, these are not poems. Buffon wrote only poems, and Bossuet and Chateaubriand and Flaubert. Now behold my innocence. I never guessed it.
Nevertheless, I learned it without great astonishment ; unconsciousness plays so large a part in intellectual operations. I even believe it plays the greatest of all. No study of Six French Poets 1 14 Remy de Gourmont can be complete without takmg him in connection with the Symboliste movement. Poetry, like all art, is organic. Every true artistic movement is a necessary movement toward maturity. It is as silly to attempt to stop the artistic clock, as it was for King Canute to forbid the advance of the waves.
It is the eternal penance of the artist to be in advance of the people. Writ- ing to be read otherwise why write! Every artist knows this, and yet every artist rails against the besotted ignorance of the public, as if he were the only person who had ever experienced the phenomenon, and his time the only one in which it had appeared. Remy de Gourmont, and the men of his age, came along at the heels of the Romantic Movement. Musset and Hugo were dead, so was Baudelaire, who might be called the last of the Romantics.
These men form the Parnassian School. Theirs was a protest against fantasticality. And extraordinarily different though it appears to be, this movement was prompted by the same protest which in prose produced first Flaubert, then De Maupassant and Zola: the Realistic School of Fiction. The poetry of the Pjirnassian School is very beau- tiful, but it hardly lends itself to the expression of all the phases of our complex modem life.
MeJ- larm6, in love with pure sound, could not content himself within an art which was almost entirely sculpture. Verlaine, choking with emotions, filled with lyric despairs, found no relief in carving beau- tiful cameos. These men broke away from the Parnassian School, and each in his way attempted to widen the scope of French poetry. Mallarmd is the great master of the later Sym- bolistes. His wais an original contribution to French poetry. And original contributions, as we shall see in a moment, were the foundation stones of the Symboliste movement.
Mais si le fox terrier chasse le renard dans son terrier , si le bull terrier chasse le taureau idem , que peut bien chasser le yorkshire? Il faut laisser du temps au temps, en toutes circonstances et avec le tempo convenable. Par BellesEtNues, merciX, et. Selon une information du Parisien. Catimini phasme. Yorkshire terrier la suite…. Pleurs en gouttes larmes, et du sanglot. Que je naisse autre et passe vide. Attention Gustaf! Le Caravage est excellent. Gustav 15h09 Tu ferais mieux de te relire avant de poster, vieil ivrogne du dimanche!
Bon allez! Je fais un nouveau commentaire! Une cocotte on y revient! Oui , et alors?.. Trop tentant? Ex: Chess, Black narcissus. Ah wordpress! Pour qualifier votre aplomb, Ph. Des images? Simply mention a movie title in quotes and if the Yahoo! Donc test! Le terrarium. Miguel Angel Estrella — Beethoven Sonata op.
Pas un bravo pour saluer la performance? Snif…Pas de bol d … ——————- biscator, chiocciolino cabot. Ce mois-ci Ram et Sita rentrent chez eux. Le Et si on faisait dans le pire … Le backward masking! Coucou salut. Je laisse donc un commentaire et je vais diner. Le vide, ne serait-ce pas le fond de commerce de Casimir?
Fi des cocottes! Comment ne pas penser au slogan de ladite biscotte? Une perfection je vous dis. Je moinsoie! Vous comprenez mieux pourquoi parfois on lui reproche des phrases peu audibles. On ne retire pas ses pieds? Et alors? Catiminiphasme a disparu vive AudioMiniphasme. Lamid, soyez prudent! Dose maximale: milligrammes par jour ;.
Mince alors, quel choc! Ah, ce vieil Edwards aux mains de vermeil? Une histoire de pavage. Un joyaux! Rien de plus simple. Ah bon? Retissant ou entouziasme, je vou le direz plu tar. Of course. Now, Ph. H, pas geek! Pas lamer du tout Ph. Pourrait-on avoir un rappel du corps des devinettes encore en cours?
Vous voulez aussi le carnet de vaccination? Merci Jacques C. Poor Cary! Mille millions de sabords! Petite consolation? Que voyez-vous? Je ne connaissais pas votre Perret. Merdre alors! Voyons…Sur cette rame! Top Chrono, dirait MiniPhasme. Il a eu des filles? Allez, soyons magnanimes et laissons-lui le temps de raccrocher les wagons…. Ouh la la! Bravo Lamid! H HOOQ! Bon sang Martin , vous aviez raison de nous signaler cette Sainte. Welcome to Bienvenue qui a la sagesse de se passer de diacritique, elle.
H et Martin…. Merci pour le tuyau. Mais de rien, cher vieux et devineur Martin : De neurones inaptes, je ne vois ni crois rien. Ne me remerciez pas pour ces conseils touristiques… Ils sont pour rien! Donc en hommage aux beuglements affectueux je veux pouvoir critiquer injustement les correcteurs : 1. Que nenni! Les passantes avaient mis leur capuchon. Je voulais me lever et partir. Et je vais vous en donner la raison. Je vous connais si bien que je peux vous faire quelques confidences.
Le Pet. III, 3. Au resto, ne pas confondre avec escalope. Honni e soit qui mal y pense. Allez, rame ma poule! Allez, tiens! Et que penser de cette confidence? Fiat Lux! Auber Villiers? Vous plaisantez? Le Phasme, par exemple. Ils avaient sans doute tous raison…. Cool Raoul …. Foin des conchyphages! Supprimer ou fausser arbitrairement toutes les indications concernant les destinations, les correspondances, les horaires, etc.
Coupable de non-distribution, Descartes? Mais bon. Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way. Kicking around on a piece of ground in your home town Waiting for soemone or something to show you the way.
Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain. You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today. And then one day you find ten years have got behind you. No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. Every year is getting shorter, never seem to find the time. Tu parles Charles!
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I will stop, see I will stop for nothing Say the right things when electioneering I trust I can rely on your vote. When I go forward you go backward Somewhere we will meet When I go forward you go backward Somewhere we will meet. I trust I can rely on your vote rockas. Merci pour cette exhumation. Corot si. Son stylo et son briquet aussi. Et hop. Merci Martin , pour ce coup de fil inattendu! Ce Saint-Rame! Exit Miromesnil! Puisse Der Bahndurchstich couronner votre Sainte- Victoire! Tu me fends la poire! Un laguiole dans le cou?
Est-ce une histoire de fous? The Full Monty. Il est sorti, le chef de gare! Ciao, Silvio! Bonnes nuits. A ce jour. So you can call your secret love And break the news to him. Oh I thought your little romance Was on the strict Q. So if you want your freedom P. Divorce me C. Well you can reach me down in Dallas General delivery So if you want your freedom P. Q Divorce me C. H, carabinier. Celui qui ne vous a fait aucun effet…. Puis au lit!
Pour vous dire I. I owe you …. Archibald N. Bredouille, que signifie votre postscriptum? A wild goose chase too? Diiingue, non? Quel artiste a votre admiration? Pourquoi cet imparfait lamidinsky? Par bonheur, Alechinsky est toujours en vie, enfin Pierre Alechinski, le peintre, pour les autres Alechinski je ne sais pas…. Martin, vous ne devez pas avoir les bonnes lunettes …. Apocalypse garantie et fin du Monde …. Tant pis pour lui,… mais il a les moyens.
Aussi Bonnard et Rouault. Et quelques autres. Je vous rejoins. Pour quelque? Quant au brave papi rhinomorphe de Ghirlandaio, il va sans dire que son abandon est accidentel…. Un petit bijou. Enfin, comment ne pas succomber devant ce retour aux routses?.. Heu… Vos illusions sur quoi?
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Cet artiste,…etc. Le papier monnaie aussi. Et toc! Du fait de la pollution, elles deviennent un peu plus rares mais restent assez communes dans nos ruisseaux. Chapeau, la Phasme-Artiste! Mon premier? Partie du corps. Mon deux? Mon trois? Particule des corps. Mon tout? P… de balises! Pour TRS qui aime les affreuse bestioles.. Et pour tous, bien entendu, cette petite devinette. Apprenez pour votre gouverne, Ph. Chose promise …. Un grand gosse! TRS Excusez mon retard. Allez les vers! Je suis en retard … Il faut faire vite … Bon!
Je refais un essai. Crop tonneau. Non mais des fois. Tiens, Lebanni avait raison : des bad thrips, il y en a partout. Mais les miens, ils aiment les fleurs bleues. Comme quoi, hein, praecox ejaculatio humanum est…. Pas moi!!! Et je vous remercie encore. Ave Martin! Faites-nous plaisir, descendez de ce train, vous en prendrez un plus tard, et allons boire un verre au buffet de la gare. Si vous en avez assez du gris-de-Toul, on trouvera bien autre chose. Un si discret merci… pourquoi? Vamos Caballero, un abrazo, y vaya con Dios.
Top chrono! Prenez soin de vous. Bien affectueusement. Merci Gus! Comment dire…? Quoi dire…? Je ne voulais pas partir sur la pointe des pieds sans dire merci. Encore merci. Au revoir. Bon sang de bonsoir! Vous me voyez venir avec mes tiags? Faut que vous parle. Mais que dire de son auteur? Bah… Pas de quoi vous donner du taf, Gus! TRS je replace un commentaire hautement subsversif qui aura subi pas moins de trois torpillages.
Bonsoir Mini et coll. Mauvais joueur, va! H mycologue. Perdons pas le colis! Vous avez mal lu! Qui a la rame lamidum?
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Ces images dormaient depuis ans ou ans dans un livre. Certainement pas! Deux auteurs, MM. En toute innocence. Ne vous avisez jamais de traiter une faucille de tordue, il pourrait vous en cuire! Elle chantait bien, nous reprenions le refrain. Ils jouaient de la guitare, moi de la batterie; elle? Est-ce quelque chose de scato le rapport avec le jonc? Lo siento mucho, pero sono molto ocupato ahora casi tuto il tempo , per que le cose de la escuela de italiano, estan no facile.
Alors, pour en finir avec la dame blanche je vous propose une Lady in black. Et si un jour elle vient vers vous, buvez ses paroles si sages, puisez-y votre courage, et dites-lui bonjour de ma part! And if one day she comes to you, drink deeply from her words so wise Take courage from her as your prize and say hello for me. Euh… comparaison etc. A voir ici. Bonjour MiniPhasme et merci. Bien pratique. Attendons la confirmation. Sur le buffet, quatre poissons rouges dans un bocal. Lebanni : vous ne trichez pas? Encore des bravisaux le pluriel de pluriel de bravo. Juin 99, il se casse le poignet droit et le 4 octobre, il se suicide.
Buffet …. Mais je ne sais pas pourquoi. Et vous, le savez-vous? Aber, which one? Je viens de trouver ici le portrait auquel je pensais hier soir, et en effet, toujours pas de poissons rouges. Presque tout le reste y est pourtant. Pas loin de Bacon dites-vous? Avez-vous le shining aussi? Beaucoup de cris sans voix. Vraiment jolie! Vous voulez voir des images?