Todays poetic exegesis is from a poem by Paul Verlaine. It is homoerotic but not classical in content. There was a Lucian, though, who was a greco roman satirist.
The other day I was having a conversation about the Paris Commune. I don’t know much about the Paris Commune other than the fact that one of my favorite poets, Rimbaud, was there. I love poetry of Rimbaud, but really I like the life of Rimbaud. He gave up poetry and moved to Africa to become a trader. That is sort of poetic.
Anyway, Rimbaud was Verlaine’s lover. They had a very tumultuous affair in which Verlaine shot Rimbaud. Read the poetry of Rimbaud, but also, read a (few) biography(ies) on Rimbaud. Anyway, this post is about the poetry of Verlaine (which I is not as great as Rimbaud’s IMHO), but here we are and let us begin!
Lucien Letinois VVIX (24)
fyi Lucien was one of Verlaine’s lovers…
Stanza one – Lucien’s Voice.
Who does not love a velvet analogy?I love one. The voice is grave, low, and soft. I would not use the word grave it reminds me of gravel which is not soft. But perhaps the word in french is different. I don’t know what word Verlaine uses here, so I cannot say.
‘Trembling over moss’ I am personally smitten by moss. It is through the work of Robin Wall Kimmerer, who wrote Gathering Moss, and Braiding Sweetgrass, that I first fell in love with moss. I love moss, they are like tiny forests. Is moss a fungus or a plant? It is a plant, a non-vascular plant. I just finished reading a book about how reason is related to our skeleton, perhaps I should write about about how reason is based on plant morphology. But, I find moss fascinating, there are so many different kinds! I go on hikes with my children and continuously force them to look at different kinds of moss. Droplets of water do tremble there.
A voice like velvety dewy moss – delicious!
Stanza two – Lucien’s Laughter.
Sparkles – I think this is Cara Delevingne’s pet name for Ashley Benson. I do think bird songs as metaphor for laughter creates a new language. This stanza does not do it for me.
Stanza three – Verlaine’s memories of these qualities – voice and laughter. I guess because the love affair is over and all we have now are memories. What I (Verlaine) remember of you (Lucien) is your voice and laughter, not say, your chiseled jaw. “Like the ringing glory of holy martyrs” – sort of over the top. There are many ways we can talk about memory, I would like to workshop this paragraph.
Stanza four – How Verlaine feels. I can tell you this one – SAD. And in fact that is the first line of stanza four, “The sadness you leave” . It is more like Lucien leaves sadness not that the poet feel sadness. This is where the poem really starts to get going.
Scatters – scatters like what – perhaps like Lucien’s ashes. Scatters with these murmurs (murmurs are sort of like gurgles like water, like Lucien’s voice). The murmurs are “courage!” again I don’t really feel an exclamation point jives with murmur – but lets go with it. The murmurs urge courage to a heart in tumult filled with fluttering fluttering and such sad anxiety. I think the translator has done a good job here with alliteration (‘s’, ‘f’), also I like the phrase ‘sad anxiety’ I like the rhythm and s and x, and the anxiety is that is sad, not jittery or some other anxiety. Nice work!
Stanza five – Anger! the poet/Verlaine is angry that lucien is gone (dead probably). Storm, still your rage. The poet is not himself. The poet is a storm. It is jungian – I am possessed by my complex. Still your rage so I “can speak with my friend who seems asleep but only rests in ancient wisdom…” This is very cryptic and mystical. I really love it. I must calm my self, I must heal myself so I can commune with my dead lover ..
What I love most about this poem is the structure. I love the organization and flow: things i miss/love about my lover my lover’s voice, laughter, feelings, hearing the lover, how to speak with my lover. Some of the descriptions/stanza I love- they create a new feeling for me, the particulars of the lover’s laughter, the attempt to talk to my dead lover. Some don’t resonate however, like stanza 2.
The whole poem is interesting as a snapshot of the state of the mind of the poet – Verlaine. What we have are particular details about Lucien, Verlaine’s particular way of missing him, of how the poet/Verlaine is trying to move on, how the poet is trying to communicate with Lucien -perhaps through this very poem …