Paul Verlaine Bio

Great lyrical poet of France Paul Verlaine was born on March 30, 1844, in city Metz.

He has left bright record of what he felt and seen, on spirit and expression similar with later creativity of Blok, Chechov and other newest writers, and was also connected by strings of deep relationship with young impressionistic artists of France, Scandinavian countries and Russia.

The artists of this type were surrounded by the new urban reality, other, than Pushkin and Stendhal. Streets just have been covered by asphalt and have been illuminated by gas. Factories grew, as mushrooms, the daily newspapers spread. Extreme growing of railways, becoming a part of existence of each child, in different dependence on that, whether his childhood flew by in a train by night city or the night trains flied by his poor childhood.

On this, in a new fashion covered street, shadows were different from what they were in Balzac’s times, people passed by in a new fashion, and it should be drawn in a new fashion, in the consent with it’s nature. However a main novelty of a street were not lanterns and telegraphic wires, but whirlwind of egoism, which flew by with sharpness of an autumn wind and, like fallen leaves from parkways, brought to sidewalks poverty, prostitution and other “charms” of this time. This whirlwind rushed in eyes of each man and it was the center of a picture. It’s breath has formed a point of view of the new artists.

They wrote in points and half-tones, not because thay wanted so and that they were symbolists. The reality itself was a symbolist, it was in transitions and meant more than made, and served more as a sign of something then satisfied. Everything was displaced and has got mixed up, old and new, church, country, city and nation.

He was the son of a colonel, and when a boy was sent from a province to Paris in a closed educational institution. He married in 1870. Here the Destiny has sent him the malicious genius, that monster of talent, which was a brawler, original and poet — teenager Artur Rimbaud.

He has dug out this “beginner” somewhere and has invited him in Paris.The further existence of Verlain is filled with tears of his wife and child. Verlaine and Rimbaud wandered along large roads of France and Belgium, lived in London. Once in Bruxelles after large quarrel Verlaine has run out, following Rimbaud, who wanted to go away from him, two times has shot him, has wounded him, was arrested and is sentenced by court to the biennial conclusion in prison. After it Rimbaud has set off to Africa.

He has died in the winter 1896 year, not adding an anything amazing to for a long time to already usual glory, surrounded by respectful attention of youth and imitators.

Paul Verlaine Poems


In that cafe crowded with fools we stood
Just us two for the hideous turpitude
of liking men; they never thought, the cunts.
We sat on their dim-witted innocence
Their standard loves, their tiny gold rules
While holding to our principles and tools
We swung and parried to our heart’s content
Veiled in a cloud on peaceful pipes had sent
Like Zeus and Hera in their nebulous bed
Till our two Punch noses glad and red
Wiped by our fingers with delightful squeezed
Under our table jetted great white sneezes.

Translation by Roland Grant and Paul Archer


Tender, the young auburn woman, By such innocence aroused,
Said to the blonde young girl
These words, in a soft low voice:”Sap which mounts, and flowers which thrust,
Your childhood is a bower:
Let my fingers wander in the moss
Where glows the rosebud

“Let me among the clean grasses
Drink the drops of dew
Which sprinkle the tender flower, —

“So that pleasure, my dear,
Should brighten your open brow
Like dawn the reluctant blue.”

Her dear rare body, harmonious,
Fragrant, white as white
Rose, whiteness of pure milk, and rosy
As a lily beneath purple skies?

Beauteous thighs, upright breasts,
The back, the loins and belly, feast
For the eyes and prying hands
And for the lips and all the sense

“Little one, let us see if your bed
Has still beneath the red curtain
The beautiful pillow that slips so And the wild sheets. O to your bed!”

Translation by Roland Grant and Paul Archer


The one was fifteen years old, the other sixteen And they both slept in the same little room.
It happened on an oppressive September eve —
Fragile things! blue-eyed with cheeks of ivory.To cool their frail bodies each removed
Her dainty chemise fresh with the perfume of amber.
The younger raised her hands and bent backwards,
And her sister, her hands on her breasts, kissed her.

Then fell on her knees, and, in a frenzy,
Grasped her limbs to her cheek, and her mouth
Caressed the blonde gold within the grey shadows:

And during all that time the younger counted
On her darling fingers the promised waltzes, And, blushing, smiled innocently.

Translation by Francois Pirous


Your soul is like a painter’s landscape where charming masks in shepherd mummeries
are playing lutes and dancing with an air
of being sad in their fantastic guise.Even while they sing, all in a minor key,
of love triumphant and life’s careless boon,
they seem in doubt of their felicity,
their song melts in the calm light of the moon,

the lovely melancholy light that sets
the little birds to dreaming in the tree
and among the statues makes the jets of slender fountains sob with ecstacy.


Translation by C.F. MacIntyre


The sky is, there above the roof, so blue! so calm!
The tree-top, there above the roof
is swaying its twigs.The bell is, through the cloistral hush,
churning its sweet tones.
The bird is, from out of the tree-top
chanting its sorrow.

My Lord, my Lord, there is the Life,
simple and calm;
this peaceful noise
derives from the city.

What have you done, o you,
crying all the time
tell me, what have you done, o you with Youth?


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