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Guillaume Apollinaire
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Poetry (1900-1945) > Guillaume Apollinaire

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message 1: by Matthew (last edited Dec 20, 2012 03:01PM) (new)

Matthew La Jolie Rousse (The Pretty Redhead)

Here I am before you all a sensible man
Who knows life and what a living man can know of death
Having experienced love's sorrows and joys
Having sometimes known how to impose my ideas
Adept at several languages
Having traveled quite a bit
Having seen war in the Artillery and the Infantry
Wounded in the head trepanned under chloroform
Having lost my best friends in the frightful conflict
I know of old and new as much as one man can know of the two
And without worrying today about that war
Between us and for us my friends
I am here to judge the long debate between tradition and invention
Between Order and Adventure

You whose mouth is made in the image of God's
Mouth that is order itself
Be indulgent when you compare us
To those who were the perfection of order
We who look for adventure everywhere

We're not your enemies
We want to give you vast and strange domains
Where mystery in flower spreads out for those who would pluck it
There you may find new fires colors you have never seen before
A thousand imponderable phantasms
Still awaiting reality
We want to explore kindness enormous country where all is still
There is also time which can be banished or recalled
Pity us who fight always at the boundaries
Of infinity and the future
Pity our errors pity our sins

Now it's summer the violent season
And my youth is dead like the springtime
Oh Sun it's the time of ardent Reason
And I am waiting
So I may follow always the noble and gentle shape
That she assumes so I will love her only
She draws near and lures me as a magnet does iron
She has the charming appearance
Of a darling redhead

Her hair is golden you'd say
A lovely flash of lightning that lingers on
Or the flame that glows
In fading tea roses

But laugh at me
Men from everywhere especially men from here
For there are so many things I dare not tell you
So many things you would never let me say
Have pity on me


message 2: by Ally (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1653 comments Mod
Thanks Matt! - that's fantastic. We'll have to explore more poetry...I sometimes forget how much I love it.


message 3: by Matthew (last edited Dec 21, 2012 06:23AM) (new)

Matthew No problem, I'm glad to share it.
Apollinaire is one of my favorite poets. He helped to found both cubism and surrealism.
... although I suppose I should say that this poem is almost devoid of those qualities. It's relatively conventional 'war poetry'. He wrote it when he was relieved from duty after being shot in the head.


message 4: by Charles (new)

Charles I don't have any of Apollinaire's writing other than his art criticism. I'll have to fix that. Another author of that milieux that I like is Blaise Cendrars, especially Le main coupee.


message 5: by Greg (new)

Greg | 330 comments I can recommend a wonderful book by Roger Shattuck titled The Banquet Years, The origins of The Avant-Garde in France 1885 to World War I.
It covers Guillaume Apollinaire, Alfred Jarry, Erik Satie, and Henri Rousseau.
This book takes me back to that time, and gives a real sense of Paris.
Blaise Cendrars in mentioned mostly in the Alfred Jarry and Apollinaire sections.


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