Friday, October 14, 2011

Paul Verlaine

Moi qui ai connu Rimbaud, je sais qu'il se foutait pas mal si "A" était rouge ou vert. Il le voyait comme ça, mais c'est tout.
(I, who knew Rimbaud, know that he really didn't give a damn whether "A" was red or green. He saw it like that, but that's all.)

From a letter written by Paul Verlaine to fellow poet Pierre Louÿs, referring to Arthur Rimbaud's poem, "Voyelles," which was the subject of 2 or 3 lines yesterday.  (We're skipping "Rap Friday" this week.  Actually we're skipping it all month.) 
As previously noted, Rimbaud moved to Paris at the invitation of symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (who had a pregnant wife at the time) just before his 17th birthday.  The two poets had a short and torrid affair and consumed mass quantities of absinthe and hashish.  After moving to London together, the two quarreled constantly and Verlaine returned to Paris after a few months.  

Shortly thereafter, he had a change of heart, telegraphed Rimbaud, begging the younger poet to meet him in Brussels, which Rimbaud quickly agreed to do.  The reunion went badly and Verlaine shot Rimbaud in the left wrist.  Verlain was later sentenced to two years in prison, where he converted to Catholicism.  Verlaine later descended into drug addiction, alcoholism, and poverty, and he died in 1896, when he was 51.  

This is all very French, don't you think?

Paul Verlaine drinking absinthe in Paris

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