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Selected Poems

4.12  ·  Rating details ·  1,679 ratings  ·  49 reviews
Verlaine ranks alongside Baudelaire, Mallarm�, and Rimbaud as one of the most influential poets of late nineteenth-century France. Remarkable not only for his exquisitely crafted verse, Verlaine is also the poet of strong emotions and appetites, with an unrivalled gift for the sheer music of poetry, and an inventive approach to its technique. This bilingual edition provide ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published April 15th 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published January 1st 1909)
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Average rating 4.12  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,679 ratings  ·  49 reviews

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Steven Godin
Oct 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, france
Like a loud flight of birds, dark complexity,
All my memories beating down on me,
Beating down through the yellow foliage
Of my heart’s bent alder-trunk, its gaze
Silvered violet in the lake of Regret,
Whose melancholy is still flowing yet,
Beat down, and then the evil murmur
That a moist rising breeze quells there,
Dies away by degrees in the leaves, so
In an instant you will hear no more, oh,
No more than a voice extolling the Absent,
No more than the voice – oh, languishment! –

Of the bird, my First Love
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, 2019-reads
This poetry collection by Verlaine, who ranks with Baudelaire and Rimbaud as one of the most outstanding poets of late nineteenth-century France, captured my attention with its unique craftsmanship:

Music, more music, always music!
Create verse which lifts and flies away,
Verse of a soul that has taken off
Into other stratospheres of love.

I read poetry for language, to listen to the rhythm and sound, to sense the metres. This is one of those instances where I couldn't help but become a bit of a poet
OUP edition, translated by Martin Sorrell

I didn't analyse it. I didn't read the French - just occasionally glimpsed how much prettier the structures and rhymes were, and if this was this good even in English, was it the perfectest thing in all French? I had thought I was stuck with this translation but a page or two in, I was lolling around blissfully in it.
Like a dream I'd actually want to wake up in.
(Not that I am, thankfully, one for often waking in cold-sweat nightmares, but this is a Sout
Cymru Roberts
May 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Earlier this year I chanced upon Baudelaire, which led, after scholarly Wikipedia searches, to the triune of Rimbaud-Verlaine-Mallarmé. I scooped up Rimbaud’s complete works and couldn’t get very far. Something about reading the rants of a fifteen year old… I couldn’t do it. Rimbaud didn’t have any respect for poetry, which is commendable, I grant him that, but it shows. His Saison d’Enfer is unreadable, at least in translation. It belongs with other works of the Black Speech such as Lautreamont ...more
Jan 18, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Romances without words,
mystic barcaroles heard,
dear, because your eyes,
color of skies,

because your voice, strange
visions which derange
and trouble the horizon
of my reason,

because the noble perfume
of your pallor's swan-plume
and because of the candor
of your odor,

ah, because all your person-
music imbuing, piercing;
voice, perfume, and nimbs
of dead seraphim-

has, with soft cadences
in its correspondences,
lured my heart's subtlety,
so let it be!"
Nov 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sorrell introduces this collection of poems by explaining, “Verlaine spent his life facing in two directions at once, unable to choose one at the expense of the other. The emotional man who yearned for peaceful family life was also the drunken assailant of his mother and his wife; the humble believer in God was also a foul-mouthed blasphemer; the poet with the most delicate touch imaginable was also the author of the most aggressively pornographic verse.” Somewhat autobiographically I believe Ve ...more
Verlaine's poems presents some of the most vivid, engrossing descriptions of love I've ever read. ...more
Sep 28, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poems-collection
Verlain is very heavy. I had to read each verse twice or more, to get possibly close to him. One must love Classics to pick up a Verlaine ...
Jan 10, 2013 marked it as to-read
I'm feeling the need for a little French decadence in my life. Since this Verlaine is not yet in my possession, I wonder if Audrey Tautou or Marion Cotillard are free tonight... ...more
Marcos Augusto
Jul 19, 2022 rated it really liked it
One of the most purely lyrical of French poets, Verlaine was an initiator of modern word-music and marks a transition between the Romantic poets and the Symbolists. His best poetry broke with the sonorous rhetoric of most of his predecessors and showed that the French language, everyday clichés included, could communicate new shades of human feeling by suggestion and tremulous vagueness that capture the reader by disarming his intellect; words could be used merely for their sound to make a subtl ...more
Jun 19, 2021 rated it really liked it
I memorized one of Verlaine’s poems in high school French class and I bought this book so I could look it up again and see how accurate my memory was. Well, “Claire de Lune” isn’t in this collection. Merde. It is on Wikipedia, if you’re curious. However, I did pick up some choice French vocab. For example, “Je ne sais rien de gai comme un enterrement!” (“I know nothing that’s more fun than a burial!”) The translations were, in all seriousness, wonderfully vivid and I enjoyed reading them (even i ...more
Aug 03, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
i wish i knew french. macintyre's translation focuses squarely on matching the rhythm and rhyme of the originals, but in the process he makes more than a few painfully amateurish word choices. what seems simply and tastefully expressed in the original french (or as far as i can tell, anyway) often turns grandiloquent and drippy in macintyre's english.

i got this for a dollar, so i can't complain too much - as it is, a decent intro to verlaine's sensabilities - but if i were you, i wouldn't pay fu
May 12, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
i read this in high school so it's not exactly fresh in my mind, but i remember verlaine's life and work having a pretty big impact on me at the time. i've always found verlaine's insecurity as a poet whenever comparing his own work to rimbaud's a curious thing. having been exposed to both, verlaine's writing always felt more mature and controlled. ...more
Matt Morris
Mar 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually, I read the Martin Sorrell translation which Goodreads doesn't seem to recognize. If you'd like to read my review of this & other books, visit me at ...more
Antonio Delgado
Jan 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Verlaine's decadence poetry is a sweat music for the absence of gods. This translation, however, is too closed to English romanticism than the French text. To be fair, romance languages have a musicality that English cannot achieve. "De la musique encore et toujours!" ...more
Jul 17, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I've liked other symolists/decadents/whatever, but Verlaine didn't do it for me. I suppose it could have been the translation, but I doubt it. ...more
Nov 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: les-grenouilles
Don't read this dual-language book if you don't know French as the translation is not very good. ...more
Lane Wilkinson
May 21, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Must be read in French. I cannot stress this enough.
Nov 08, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I suspect that if I could read French, I would actually love these poems.
Dec 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Admirable and inspiring. A highlight to any poetry-lovers read.
Jan 25, 2012 is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Yet to start reading these translations... I collect translations, just out of curiosity.
May 17, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Verlaine, as a French symbolist, moves me far less than Rimbaud.
Sep 27, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the whole, not for me. Though reading in translation probably isn't really reading it. ...more
Dec 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love the high and melodious timbre of Verlaine's verse, and his honesty and forthrightness. He had an interesting life. ...more
Michael Ledezma
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The most lyrically gifted poet of all time IMO.
Thomas Kiernan
Feb 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Liked this poet, his swings from debauchery to pious remorse, his lyricism.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
My humble opinion of good poetry books is that they're like bottomless jars of honey. Because you can always return to enjoying them and they never really end, when you can read them again and again and get a new, fuller impression every time you re-read them. Or you can get a whole new idea of them and the meaning they might be carrying every time you re-read them. And whats best is that they're entirely open to your subjective understanding and what you make out of them. Like every great piece ...more
Aug 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-owned
What this collection shows more than anything is that Verlaine always needed a muse, whether it be Rimbaud, his wife (perhaps for all the wrong reasons!), or his mistress Eugenie Krantz. He’s at his best when he’s writing at someone (or something) and when he’s writing with a noticeable chip on his shoulder. Only when forced to reflect on his own solitary existence and slowly dying flame near the end of his life does his verse begin to fall flat. It’s as if he needed the drama of personal contac ...more
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it

On a street in the heart of a city of dreams
It will be like life already lived:
A moment at once precise and vague…

Undecided, divided, a prolific poet of great variation, Verlaine had a wife and then had Rimbaud. Verlaine tried to sing with words, sometimes succeeding, sometimes falling flat. His nuance is admirable, his images strong.

I appreciated, as much as I could, the originals while reading the English translations in this bilingual edition. However, ultimately I felt much w
Vania Chaker
Sep 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy Verlaine. This book is nice because it has his original poems in French which are also translated into English. Verlaine was a very controversial figure in his time but his poems (in the original text) are beautiful - also in terms of meter, rhyme, alliteration of the words (in French). I didn't really bother reading them in English as I worried my full appreciation of his poems would be diluted or lost in translation. ...more
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Paul-Marie Verlaine was a French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.

Despite Rimbaud admiring his poetry, these poets had a stormy affair which led to Verlaine's incarceration after shooting Rimbaud. This incident indirectly preceded his re-conversion to Roman Catholicism.


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Wie eine seltne Gegend ist dein Herz,
Wo Masken, die mit Bergamasken schreiten,
Zum Tanze spielen voll geheimem Schmerz
Im Truggewand, mit dem sie bunt sich kleiden.

Obgleich in weichem Ton sie singen, wie
Der Liebe Sieg dem Lebensglück sich eine,
So glauben doch nicht an die Freude sie,
Und ihr Gesang fliesst hin im Mondenscheine.

Im kalten Mondenschein, des trübe Pracht
Die Vögel träumen lässt auf ihren Zweigen,
Und der die Wasserstrahlen weinen macht,
Die schlank aus weissen Marmorschalen steigen.”
More quotes…