Saturday, January 9, 2010

Did he or didn't he?

FRIDAY, January 8th issue of reports:

1896 - the French poet PAUL VERLAINE, died on this date (b. 1844).
Did he or didn't he? We know that Verlaine wrote 18 volumes of verse in alternating moods of sensuality and mysticism, that he wandered all over Europe with that strange and perverse young poet, Arthur Rimbaud, that he was imprisoned for two years after shooting his lover. But did he in fact write a poem that is almost certain never to be taught in French 101 – the so-called "Sonnet to an Asshole"? (see our Gay Wisdom for the violet poem). The chances are that he did. Even in English translation, the poem reflects the musical quality that was Verlaine's hallmark" "Dark and wrinkled like a deep pink,/It breathes, humbly nestled among the moss/Still wet with love…

Sonnet To An Asshole

This is the only poem known to have been composed jointly by Arthur Rimbaud and Paul Verlaine. The Parnassien poet Albert Mérat had published a book of sonnets entitled L'Idole, in which each poem extolled a part of his mistress' body – with one omission, which the two young iconoclasts proceeded to rectify. This sonnet appeared in the Album Zutique, a book of scabrous parodies by the Parisian literary circle who called themselves Les Zutistes.

Dark and wrinkled like a violet carnation,
It sighs, humbly nestling in the moss still moist from love
That follows the descent of sweet white cheeks
Down to their edge.

Filaments like tears of milk
Have wept beneath the cruel south wind
That drives them back across the little clots of russet clay,
And disappeared there where the slope has called them.

My Dream has often kissed its opening;
My Soul, that envies mortal intercourse
Has chosen this to be its wild and musky nest of sobs.

It is the swooning olive and the sweet cajoling flute
The tube through which celestial creamy pralines tumble down
Female Promised Land rimmed round with dew!


Sonnet du Trou du Cul

Obscur et froncé comme un oeillet violet
Il respire, humblement tapi parmi la mousse
Humide encor d'amour qui suit la fuite douce
Des Fesses blanches jusqu'au coeur de son ourlet.

Des filaments pareils à des larmes de lait
Ont pleuré, sous le vent cruel qui les repousse,
À travers de petits caillots de marne rousse
Pour s'aller perdre où la pente les appelait.

Mon Rêve s'aboucha souvent à sa ventouse ;
Mon âme, du coït matériel jalouse,
En fit son larmier fauve et son nid de sanglots.

C'est l'olive pâmée, et la flûte caline,
C'est le tube où descend la céleste praline :
Chanaan féminin dans les moiteurs enclos !

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