Les Contrerimes by Paul-Jean Toulet

By Paul-Jean Toulet

Jorge Luis Borges tenait Paul-Jean Toulet (1867-1920) pour l'un des plus grands poètes français. Singulier destin que celui de cette determine haute en couleur : écolier indiscipliné, voyageur insatiable, Toulet vécut en France, à l'île Maurice, à Alger ; nègre de Willy, le mari de Colette, il fréquenta pendant ses années parisiennes Léon Daudet, Jean Giraudoux et Claude Debussy. Inclassable classique, il a su donner au madrigal, appelé par lui contrerime , une inquiète beauté admettant en son coeur l'ironie. Sensuels et mystérieux, anecdotiques et moqueurs, les poèmes rassemblés dans Les Contrerimes et les Nouvelles Contrerimes, marqués par leur concision, évoquent tout à los angeles fois les haïku japonais et les quatrains d'Omar Khayam, les épigrammes antiques et l. a. poésie d'Apollinaire. Ils nous promènent des cabarets des Halles à l'île Bourbon, du Béarn à Bénarès, de los angeles travel Eiffel au Tonkin ; suggèrent les plaisirs de l'ivresse et de l'amour ; esquissent des paysages peuplés de nymphes libertines. Ces vers charmants firent les délices des plus célèbres poètes, de Paul Claudel, qui en loua l'allure élégante et désinvolte , à Jacques Réda, en passant par Paul Valéry et Philippe Jaccottet.

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Her meat though more delicate in fiber is of a kind with that of Villon and La Grosse Margot: Vente, gresle, gelle, j’ai mon pain cuit! Carl Sandburg sings a Negro cotton picker’s song of the boll weevil. Verse after verse tells what they would do to the insect. They propose to place it in the sand, in hot ashes, in the river, and other unlikely places but the boll weevil’s refrain is always: “That’ll be ma HOME! ” My mother is given over to frequent periods of great depression being as I believe by nature the most light-hearted thing in the world.

His appetite for art was gargantuan. He consumed music, drama, painting, literature as if they were food. He visited France and Switzerland briefly. Through friends he had lines out to dadaism, surrealism, furturism, objectivism, imagism, cubism, cacophonous music. These convulsions of aesthetics caught Williams at a crucial time—his late 30’s and early 40’s—and he was struggling between discontent and assertion, self-examination and self-discovery. He was put down by poets who counted—Eliot, Stevens, Hilda Doolittle, even his old college pal Ezra Pound.

Carl Sandburg sings a Negro cotton picker’s song of the boll weevil. Verse after verse tells what they would do to the insect. They propose to place it in the sand, in hot ashes, in the river, and other unlikely places but the boll weevil’s refrain is always: “That’ll be ma HOME! ” My mother is given over to frequent periods of great depression being as I believe by nature the most light-hearted thing in the world. But there comes a grotesque turn to her talk, a macabre anecdote concerning some dream, a passionate statement about death, which elevates her mood without marring it, sometimes in a most startling way.

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