Elle est en desaccord si formel avec mon sentiment, mon identite, qu'elle est la source meme de ma poesie. Earlier, in the same letter, he had said: 'Je n'ai jamais desire de quitter pour ma part le lieu ou je vivais et j'ai toujours desire que le present tel qu'il fut perdurat' Lettres a sa marraine, O. His attachment to the known is a manifestation of his desire for stability: Les hommes ne se separent de rien sans regret et meme les lieux, les choses et les gens qui les rendirent le plus malheureux, ils ne les abandonnent point sans douleur'. His obsession with the passing of time takes on different forms.
Sometimes the poet has the irrepressible feeling that time passes him by the river image is common here as in 'Le Pont Mirabeau'; at other times, the poet is irrevocably swept away by time from actual or potential happiness, as in 'Mai': Le mai le joli mai en barque sur le Rhin Des dames regardaient du haut de la montagne Vous etes si jolies mais la barque s'eloigne.
This is of course one of the commonest of lyrical themes but Apollinaire gives it a particular individual twist. J'ai eu le courage de regarder en arriere Les cadavres de mes jours 'Les Fiancailles', In this sense time is invincible but in Apollinaire's work, the idea of rebirth and resurrection is strong, as witness the lines from 'Merlin et la vieille femme': Merlin guettait la vie et 1'eternelle cause Qui fait mourir et puis renaitre 1'univers In the splendid line of 'La Chanson du mal-aime': Mon beau navire 6 ma memoire I- 50 the poet acknowledges the freedom which memory confers on him to explore the past whilst remaining in the present.
The imagination, working on the products of the memory, can reinterpret and override the linear flow of time. The past is thus recreated at the poet's will. The image takes on Christian overtones in: Langues de feu ou sont-elles mes pentecotes 'Palais', 1. Reference has already been made to Apollinaire's insecurities and feelings of alienation: he is one of the earliest writers to feel this problem which becomes dominant as the twentieth century progresses for a fuller discussion of this point, see my article on 'Guillaume Apollinaire and the Search for Identity' in Order and Adventure in Post-Romantic French Poetry: Essays presented to C.
Hackett, Oxford, Blackwell, There are no poems in Alcools which have an exclusively religious theme and yet the whole volume draws much sustenance from the Bible. Robert Couffignal U Inspiration biblique dans Vasuvre de Guillaume Apollinaire , has traced the borrowings which Apollinaire constantly made from the Bible, in his prose as well as his verse.
The great central event of the Christian faith—the Resurrection—has a privileged place in his imagery but in the main, except for the fundamental self-questioning, his interest is attached to the minor biblical figures and events which figure in his curious history of human achievement.
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There is certainly no anti-clericalism in Alcools and no attack on religion. Durry has well said, 'une nostalgic de la foi'.
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The Bible has of course a strong element of le merveilleux which greatly appealed to Apollinaire and added to his private gallery of other magical figures like Orpheus, Icarus and Merlin. This is another area in which the Surrealists will recognise the originality of his vision.
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What emerges from Alcools is Apollinaire's growing consciousness that the poet is a unique interpreter of the world, a creator, like God. Le mdtier de poete n'est pas inutile, ni fou, ni frivoie. Les poetes sont les createurs. Rien ne vient done sur terre, n'apparait aux yeux des hommes s'il n'a d'abord 6te imaging par un poete he wrote 18 January , Lettres a Lou, p. He triumphs over the world: 'la faussete est une mere feconde. The poet's triumph is over nature, time, regret and the human condition itself.
The materials from which he creates are all around us; Tart nait ou il peut' he wrote in O.
Cartas por la vida en la Tierra
His poems hold in tension so many conflicting attitudes and beliefs: a belief in permanence balanced against his apprehension of transience; the present against the past; twentieth-century man against his historical and legendary brothers; the new against the old; intuition against knowledge. Like alcool itself, a magical process involving fire and water, the poems create from conflict a new and heady vision of the world.
His youthful poems reveal his preoccupation with traditional forms as well as a desire to avail himself of the new liberties of metrics developed by the Symbolists. Thus, of the poems shown to Toussaint Luca, his friend at the Lycee de Nice in , 'Mort de Pan' signed with his early pseudonym of Guillaume Macabre is a sonnet in classical alexandrines, whilst 'Mardi gras' and 'Aurore d'hiver' O.
He agreed enthusiastically with Francis Viele-Griffin's definition of free verse as 'une conquete morale' but argued strongly that it was not 'une simplification prosa'ique de la poesie' 'Jean Royere', O. Lettres a sa marraine, 30 October , O. He claimed proudly in a letter to Andre Billy: 'J'ai donne une nouvelle vie aux vers de 8 pieds' 29 July , O.
There are many references to Apollinaire's methods of composition. He himself said: En effet Madeleine je ne compose qu'en chantant. Cette poesie etait vraiment inspired, il allongeait les notes pour mettre une syllabe de plus ou au contraire en supprimer. Parent, Klincksieck, , M.
Decaudin has remarked that 'le compte des syllabes est soumis a 1'oreille bien plus qu'a la regie. Apollinaire a le sens de la poesie parlee, il entend le vers'. So, Decaudin argues, one must say in 'Mai': 28 Introduction Vous etes si joli es mais la barque s'eloigne and, in 'La Loreley': Devant son tribunal Pevequ e la fit citer D'avance il 1'absolvit a caus e de sa beaute O belle Loreley aux yeux pleins de pierr e ries De quel magici-en tiens-tu la sorcell e rie.
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But Apollinaire was also affected by the typographical disposition of the poem on the page. Bearing in mind his experiments in Calligrammes where poems are set out in the form appropriate to the subject 'La Cravate et la montre', 'Cceur couronne et miroir', 'II Pleut' printed in slanting lines across the page , he wrote in 'L'Esprit nouveau et le poetes': Les artifices typographiques pousses tres loin avec une grande audace ont 1'avantage de faire naitre un lyrisme visuel qui 6tait presque inconnu avant notre epoque. Et nos amours, faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne? La joie venait toujours apres la peine.
In Alcools, its disposition is changed and becomes more interesting : Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine Et nos amours Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne La joie venait toujours apres la peine.
His use of rhyme is very daring. He never lost sight of the value of rhyme in the free rhythms of vers libre, both for its importance in marking line endings and for the potential of Introduction 29 surprise. Warren Ramsey well summarized Apollinaire's importance in the field of versification when he wrote: 'Not the least of Apollinaire's functions was that of reminding other poets of the traditional sources of French verse' foreword to Alcools, translated by Anne Hyde Greet.
The suppression of all punctuation on the proofs of Alcools has given rise to much critical comment. Louise Faure-Favier tells it thus. Paul Morisse of the editorial staff of the Mercure de France picked up a number of errors of punctuation on the proof sheets of Alcools and drew the poet's attention to them. Apollinaire then: dans un mouvement d'impatience et sans plus d'hdsitation, ddcida de supprimer toute la ponctuation.
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Souvenirs sur Apollinaire, Grasset, , pp. Mallarme had suppressed punctuation in his later poems and in Marinetti's manifestos in favour of Futurism had advocated, amongst other things, the end of punctuation.
In the same year, 'Zone' and 'Vendemiaire' appeared in reviews without punctuation, almost certainly before Apollinaire received the proofs of Alcools. Apollinaire's own explanation is contained in a letter to Henri Martineau, 19 July O. The recordings of'Le Pont Mirabeau', 'Marie' and 'Le Voyageur' made by Apollinaire himself for the Archives de la parole in the Sorbonne in makes clear how the poet, in his grave, rather light voice, observes strictly the ending of each line.
The suppression of punctuation adds to the flow of the poem, confers on it an added ambiguity and—an essential tribute which all readers must pay to the poet—causes us to slow down our reading. The style of Apollinaire avoids rhetoric and it is this aspect which has proved most influential. All these create an unstable poetic climate. For Tristan Tzara this marked a reaction away from a 'mallarmeisme savant' back to a tradition: allant de Villon, a travers Ronsard.
Alcools, Club du meilleur livre, pp.
His use of the pun 'le calembour createur' for Mme Durry and 'le calembour tremplin' for Max Jacob, opens up subtle perspectives. The image plays an important role in Apollinaire's poetry but in a somewhat different way from Symbolism. It is rare to find in his work a poem which is entirely constructed around a central image or series of images: perhaps 'Les Sapins' is the only example in Alcools. He does not favour the structure implicit in poems like Baudelaire's 'La Ghevelure' or the 'Spleen' series and had rather turned away from this, as witness his statement in a letter: On s'est habitu6 aux images.
Apollinaire's inexhaustible curiosity furnishes the diverse elements to make an image combining the traditional with the modern by a striking adaptation of a pastoral image to the context of the city: Bergere 6 tour Eiffel le troupeau des ponts bele ce soir 'Zone', 1. It was a long-held belief of his that even the most insignificant object could hold powerful meanings; in 'L'Esprit nouveau et les poetes' he insisted that 'le moindre fait est pour le poete le postulat, le point de depart d'une immensite inconnue ou flambent les feux de joie de significations multiples', and again, 'On peut partir d'un fait quotidien: un mouchoir qui tombe peut etre pour le poete le levier avec lequel il soulevera tout un univers'.
It was this emphasis on the presence of poetry in the most banal aspects of life which he might have found in Baudelaire which made Apollinaire one of the sources of Surrealism. Andre Breton thought that Apollinaire's 'trouvailles d'images' had the effect of 'creations spontanees' and Tristan Tzara wrote admiringly of his 'images de choc'.
Certain obsessive images emerge from the volume.
Light signifies lucidity, hope, confidence, the future and, combined with fire, the magic and dangerous alcool as well as the poet's sacrifice in creation. Darkness and particularly ombres represent despair, the subconscious, the past seen not as the repository of happiness but as a dead weight across the future. Firstly, the denial of eloquence practised by Apollinaire has become an accepted ambition of young poets in England and America as well as in France. He finally destroyed any lingering idea of hierarchy of poetic vocabulary. Next, Apollinaire's consciousness of the discontinuity of the human experience of reality is sharp and very much in accord with twentieth-century rejections of nineteenth-century concepts of literary realism.
The structure of the poems of Alcools rarely depends on narrative structures or time sequences rigorously preserved.