Leon Emile Kastner



The French Symbolists.



»   »   »
Texte zur Baudelaire-Rezeption
Texte zur Verlaine-Rezeption
Texte zur Mallarmé-Rezeption
Texte zur Theorie und Rezeption des Symbolismus


'TIS some twenty years since a certain group of enthusiastic young French poets began to sing in unwonted accents on the hills of Montmartre and Sainte Geneviève. So strange and defiant were their strains that there was immediately a flutter in the ranks of the oflficial and academic critics, indignant at these youths who wished to allure the Muse into Bohemian pastures new, and who showed so little respect for the traditional canons of French poetry. The critics had good reason for their indignation, for it cannot be denied that there existed then a marked disparity between the performance and presumption of these ardent young revolutionists. But years have passed since, and reason has come with years. Instead of flinging back insults at the taunts of their adversaries, the pioneers of the Symbolist school – it is to them we are alluding – have settled down to work, comparatively quietly, and gradually amassed a body of evidence that has long ago assured them victory and an honourable place in the history of French literature. Vicaire's amusing literary skit, Les Diliquescences d'Adoré Floupette, has lost its sting; the raillery of the journalists has not only ceased but turned into mild benevolence, and in many cases even to enthusiastic admiration; Anatole France has been won over; the canny Jeffrey of the Revue des Deux Mondes has since deputed one of his most obedient lieutenants to receive the whilom offenders into the temple of the French Muse, and happily has M. René Doumic carried out his orders by linking the new school on to the Lamartinian tradition; the Mercure de France the accredited review of the Symbolists, is recognised as an organ of independent French thought in matters literary and artistic, and is fast becoming a serious rival to the Revue des Deux Mondes – in fine, the Symbolists can be said without any exaggeration to have triumphed. The best of them, Verlaine, Verhaeren, Rodenbach, Albert Samain, Henri de Régnier, and others, stand shoulder to shoulder with the leading Parnassians, and among the younger members of the group such poets as Francis Jammcs and Fernand Gregh have already shown more than ordinary promise. This being so, it is not easy at first sight to understand why the bulk of people who take an interest in literature in this country are so unfamiliar with these poets. This is all the more remarkable when one recalls that of all French poets the Symbolists alone realise the Germanic conception of true lyric poetry, as I hope to show presently. The real reason seems to me to be, that in the unpoetic age in which we live, literary reputations based on poetic achievement alone are very slow to travel from one country to another; indeed, not a few, like the fairies, are unable to cross running water. A proof of this is that more than one English literary critic still takes his cue from Brunetière's article in the Revue des Deux Mondes (November 1, 1888), written at a time when the new poetry was still feeling its way, and such remarkable productions as Rodenbach's Le Règne du Silence, Samain's Au Jardin de l'Infante, Verhaeren's Villages Illusoires, and De Régnier's Les Médailles d'Argile had not yet seen the day. Neither can it be said that those who speak with more authority on the subject have succeeded in giving the average English reader a clear insight into the aims and aspirations of the French Symbolist school. George Moore, Gosse, and a few others, it is true, have devoted a few pages to this topic, but only as a pastime apparently or from a love of the curious, and Arthur Symons' more elaborate excursion in the same field, 1 except for one brilliant chapter on Mallarmé, lost much of its value from too great an abundance of biographical detail.

The unfamiliarity of the English public with these writers is also accounted for by the fact that, save Verlaine, none of them are – or were a short time ago – represented in the large libraries, not excepting the collection of the British Museum. Moreover, the obscurity of Mallarmé, claimed as a leader in the earlier days, and the antics of a few fumistes like René Ghil, who poses as the inventor of 'poetic orchestration,' though they have long since been accurately weighed up in France, are still used in this country as pegs for ridicule by those who consider that a laugh is an easy way of hiding one's ignorance.

In the present essay I propose to discuss [4] and explain the essential characteristics of the Symbolist or new French school, which it is now time to cease to call new. Before passing on to any detailed explanation it should be made quite clear that the terms 'Symbolist' and 'Symbolist school' are applied in a general way to poets who, in spite of certain common aims and tendencies, differ widely in temperament and talent, but who were all agreed on this one point, that they must proceed in a manner diametrically opposed to that of their predecessors, so that one way, the negative way, of characterising the poetry of the Symbolists is to say that it is the opposite of that of the Parnassians. It has always been so in the constitution of poetic 'schools,' and it is in this sense only that the word has any meaning. Each, poet keeps his own individuality. Ronsard and his associates were all aiming at the same goal, yet how different, for example, is the note and general atmosphere of Ronsard's Odes and Du Bellay's Regrets, and if we pass on to the nineteenth century, the same remark holds good of Victor Hugo's Orientales and Lamartine's Méditations, or again, if we take the Parnassians, of Leconte De Lisle's Poèmes Barbares and the poésie intime of Sully-Prudhomme.

I would recommend the reader who wishes to verify this point for himself as regards the French Symbolists, to turn over the leaves of the little anthology of the work of the French poets during the last twenty years edited by A. Van Bever and P. Léautaud, 1 an indispensable book for those who are interested in the new movement.

But the differences observable in the works of the various members of these several poetic schools are merely relative and insignificant as compared to the more general and comprehensive aims of each group.

It may be said that the object of the Symbolists is to manifest physically, by means of symbols, what is spiritually accessible only to the few, and more generally by rivalling music instead of the plastic arts as their predecessors the Parnassians had done, to replace the rhetoric and exteriority of French poetry, which the Romanticists, in spite of their innovations, had not succeeded in destroying, by the dreamy suggestiveness which the best English or German lyric poetry so admirably conveys.

It will be objected that the use of the symbol in poetry is as old as the hills, that the myths of primitive man are merely so many symbols. But this remark did not apply to French poetry twenty years ago, and moreover, never before had the symbol been consciously made the centre and the essential condition of art. In this connection the example of Wagner in music and of the English Pre-Raphaelites in painting might be alleged, and their influence on the new literary movement determined if space permitted.

The best, and strange to say, the most lucid definition of 'symbolism' I know, is that given by Mallarmé. It runs as follows: – La contemplation des objets, l'image s'envolant des rêveries suscitées par eux, sont le chant: les Parnassiens, eux, prennent la chose entièrement et la montrent; par là ils manquent de mystère; ils retirent aux esprits cette joie délicieuse de croire qu'ils créent. Nommer un objet, c'est supprimer les trois quarts de la jouissance du poème qui est faite du bonheur de deviner peu à peu, le suggérer, voilà le rêve. C'est le parfait usage de ce mystère qui constitue le symbole: évoquer petit à petit un objet pour montrer un état d'âme, ou, inversement, choisir un objet et en dégager un état d'âme, par une série de déchiffrements. 2

The symbol disengages from the mystic signs of nature a hidden soul, or rather étâts d'âme, to use Amiel's expression, which are very similar to ours, and which at least belong to the same category of sensibilities. Baudelaire had already been struck by these correspondances:

La Nature est un temple où de vivants piliers
Laissent parfois sortir de confuses paroles;
L'homme y passe à travers des forêts de symboles
Qui l'observent avec des regards familiers.
                                (Fleurs du Mal.)

Nature must yield her secrets, and the universal life blend with the life of him who questions her. It matters little whether the emotions of the reader differ from those of the poet. There is room for all interpretations, and the poet attains his object if he succeeds in evoking emotions, which, though they may differ in detail from his, will invariably flow from the same state of sensibility. Not only does the reader 'think' that he is creating life, as Mallarmé puts it, but he does so in reality from the moment that the symbol suggests and evokes emotion. It is this endless, [5] inexhaustible, creative power which lends all its charm to the new art, and distinguishes symbolism from allegory, which is merely the figured representation of the abstract, and which, decking out a preconceived idea, gives it artificially a sensible form by means of a few analogies. In order to make my meaning clearer, I cannot do better than quote a few instances from the Symbolist poets themselves.

Let us take as an example the following poem of Verhaeren, which I borrow from Vigié-Lecocq's La Poésie Contemporaine (Paris, 1896), the only really helpful and comprehensive book I know on the subject:

Parmi l'étang d'or sombre
Et les nénuphars blancs,
Un vol passant de hérons lents
Laisse tomber des ombres.

Elles s'ouvrent et se ferment sur l'eau
Toutes grandes, comme des mantes;
Et le passage des oiseaux, là-haut,
S'indéfinise, ailes ramantes.

Un pêcheur grave et théorique
Tend vers elles son filet clair,
Ne voyant pas qu'elles battent dans l'air
Les larges ailes chimériques,

Ni que ce qu'il guette, le jour, la nuit,
Pour le serrer en des mailles d'ennui,
En bas, dans les vases, au fond d'un trou,
Passe dans la lumière, insaisissable et fou.
          (Verhaeren, Poèmes, i. pp. 244-5.)

Every one is free to interpret this parable in his own way according to his emotions, but the different interpretations, being called forth by a certain state of sensibility, will all be related.

Here are a few of the interpretations which may suggest themselves, and which I reproduce as closely as possible in M. Vigié-Lecocq's own words.

We are all this poor man: with lowered eyes, we all cast our nets into the mud and shame which are hidden by the sham gold of pharisaic life, and we hope to lift out, in the meshes, honours, fortune or love. But the chimerical ideal hovers above our heads, and we shall never see it, since our eyes are obstinately fixed to the ground, and we shall never be able to grasp it, for it does not belong to this world. The 'slow herons' still pass on and their shadows continue to glide over the mirror wherein each soul is reflected, and man continues to cherish illusions and to await a day that will never come, and that he shall never grasp.

But it might also be an individual case, the heart-felt lament of a lover deceived, something like the everlasting and unsatiated longing of some symbolic Don Juan, who still hopes to clasp his dream of ideal beauty, and seeks it in what is only its shadow; he possesses the body but cannot reach the soul, and continues to pursue the impossible through the deceiving but seductive appearances of things.

It would likewise be legitimate to find other interpretations, and especially to apply to oneself, to any of one's illusions or hopes, the profound and mysterious meaning of the parable.

If space permitted, it would be easy to cite other good examples of well-sustained symbols, such as Henri de Régnier's l'Exergue, or la Couronne also of De Régnier, in which he feigns to see again in the evening twilight his thoughts returning from life's journey:

Lasses du long chemin, et la tête baissée,
Silencieusement, dans l'ombre mes Pensées,
Une à une, vers moi reviennent de la vie
Où toutes, à l'aurore, elles étaient parties,
Les voici, elles sont debout, au crépuscule.

The poet questions them, and asks what they have brought back from their long voyage into the land of pride, desire, and action. They have all been equally deceived, but the poet is still left with his ideal and can still live in the past:

Mais Toi qui partais chaste, ô Toi qui partais nue
Et seule de tes sœurs ne m'es pas revenue,
C'est vers Toi à travers moi-même que j'irai.
Tu es restée au fond de quelque bois sacré
Assise solitaire aux pieds nus de l'Amour
Et taciturne, vous échangez, tour à tour,
Toi te haussant vers lui et lui penché vers Toi,
Une à une, les fleurs divines dont vos doigts,
Qui d'un geste alterné les prennent et les donnent,
Tressent pour vos deux fronts une seule couronne.
          (Les Médailles d'Argile, pp. 32-3.)

Unfortunately a few of the Symbolists, in their desire to materialise the workings of their most subtle emotions, have lapsed into obscurity. This fault is especially observable in the later sonnets of Mallarmé, who not infrequently makes use of words purely for their musical value, and regardless of their accepted meaning, in order that the music of his verse should be in perfect harmony with his state of sensibility. Thereby he withdraws the key from a symbol perceptible to him, as it exists from the first in his mind united to the idea it materialises, but which becomes a mere enigma to the bewildered reader who comes to it only in its final stage.

Here is one of these opaque sonnets the music of which, whether it be the Leitmotiv or its variations, is just as unintelligible [6] to the ordinary mortal as the sibylline language in which it is written:

Quelle soie aux baumes de temps
Où la Chimère s'exténue
Vaut la torse et native nue
Que, hors de ton miroir, tu tends!

Les trous de drapeaux méditants
S'exaltent dans une avenue:
Moi, j'ai ta chevelure nue
Pour enfouir des yeux contents.

Non! La bouche ne sera sûre
De rien goûter à sa morsure,
S'il ne fait, ton princier amant,

Dans la considérable touffe
Expirer, comme un diamant,
Le cri des gloires qu'il étouffe.
                          (Poésies, p. 96.)

In this connection it is interesting to note that Mallarmé had a rival in the sixteenth century in the person of Maurice Scève, the leader of the École de Lyon, and in more than one sense a precursor of the modern Symbolists. The following dizain from his Délie, objet de plus haute vertu (1544) will afford good scope for mental gymnastics:

Et l'influence, et l'aspect de tes yeux
Durent toujours sans révolution
Plus fixement, que les Pôles des Cieux,
Car eux tendans à dissolution
Ne veulent voir que ma confusion,
Afin qu'en moi mon bien tu n'accomplisses,
Mais que par mort, malheur, et leurs complices
Je suive enfin à mon extrême mal,
Ce roi d'Éosse avec ces trois Eclipses
Spirans encor cet An embolismal.
                                (Dizain, ccccxvi.)

No wonder that the good Pasquier, while acknowledging the merits of Scève, wrote that Délie was written avec un sens si ténébreux et obscur, que, le lisant, je disois estre très-content de ne l'entendre, puisqu'il ne vouloit estre entendu. 1

However, it is only fair to say that in the early days before he was a slave to his theories, Mallarmé composed a few admirable verses of which I do not know the like in French:

La lune s'attristait.   Des séraphins en pleurs
Rêvant, l'archet aux doigts, dans le calme des fleurs
Vaporeuses, tiraient de mourantes violes
De blancs sanglots glissant sur l'azur des corolles.
- C'était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser
S'enivrait savamment du parfum de tristesse
Que même sans regret et sans déboire laisse
La cueillaison d'un Rêve au coeur qui l'a cueilli.
J'errais donc, l'oeil rivé sur le pavé vieilli,
Quand avec du soleil aux cheveux, dans la rue
Et dans le soir, tu m'es en riant apparue.
Et j'ai cru voir la fée au chapeau de clarté
Qui jadis sur mes beaux sommeils d'enfant gâté
Passait, laissant toujours de ses mains mal fermées
Neiger de blancs bouquets d'étoiles parfumées.
                                    (Vers et Prose, 69.)

I have said that the Symbolists make the symbol the essential condition of their art, but for all that they have not abandoned the old poetic themes, or invariably interpreted their theories as strictly and consequentially as in the examples discussed above. The symbol is not always worked out so thoroughly as by Henri de Régnier for example; once the motif is given and the emotion is awakened the poet frequently gives no further clue, but leaves us to create life out of our own reverie, for in dream there is action. All we have is a picture impregnated with emotion, so to speak; as in this piece, entitled Nuptiae of Fernand Gregh:

Pareils aux grands Amants des légendes antiques,
Nous avions fiancé nos âmes près des vagues,
Et ses yeux aggrandis et l'éclair de ses bagues
Luisaient dans l'ombre avec des clartés magnetiques.

Et nos baisers, parmi les choses éternelles,
Se changeaient en serments sur nos lèvres unies . . .
Et le vent et la mer, profondes harmonies,
Faisaient tonner pour nous leurs orgues solennelles . . .

Parfois, a nos serments attendris et pieux
Nous montrions du doigt l'éternité des cieux,
Dont les flots noirs berçaient le lumineux prestige;

Quand soudain une étoile aux voûtes de l'éther,
Ivre d'espace et d'ombre, et prise de vertige,
Se détacha du ciel et tomba dans la mer . . .
                            (La Maison de l'Enfance, p. 178.)

Landscapes as well as love-scenes are not eschewed, but here too description in the ordinary sense is replaced by a representation which does not aim at being a reproduction, and the time and locality are left undetermined on the same principle that the accidental circumstances of the sentimental episode were hushed. Remember the words of Mallarmé's definition: Nommer un objet, c'est supprimer les trois-quarts de la jouissance du poème qui est faite du bonheur de deviner peu à peu, le suggérer, voilà le rêve.

Le Séraphin des soirs passe le long des fleurs . . .
La Dame-aux-Songes chante à l'orgue de l'église;
Et le ciel, où la fin du jour se subtilise,
Prolonge une agonie exquise de couleurs.

Le Séraphin des soirs passe le long des cœurs . . .
Les vierges au balcon boivent l'amour des brises;
Et sur les fleurs et sur les vierges indécises
Il neige lentement d'adorables pâleurs.

Toute rose au jardin s'incline, lente et lasse,
Et l'âme de Schumann errante par l'espace
Semble dire une peine impossible à guérir . . .

[7] Quelque part une enfance très douce doit mourir . . .
O mon âme, mets un signet au livre d'heures,
L'Ange va recueillir le rêve que tu pleures.
      (Samain, Au Jardin de l'Infante, Soir, p. 117.)

Such pieces are not symbolical in the full sense, but there is no denying their suggestiveness – the suggestiveness of a song of Collins or Shelley.

The same may be said with still more truth of such simple exquisite melodies as Verlaine's Il pleut dans mon cœur, which renders so faithfully the 'endless drip, drip of melancholia,' or of that other magical lyric of the vagrant of the prisons and hospitals:

Les sanglots longs
Des violons
   De l'automne
Blessent mon coeur
Dune langueur

Tout suffocant
Et blême, quand
   Sonne l'heure,
Je me souviens
Des jours anciens
   Et je pleure

Et je m’en vais
Au vent mauvais
   Qui m'emporte
Deçà, delà,
Pareil à la
   Feuille morte.
        (Choix de Poésies, p. 27.)

It would be in vain to look for any symbolical intention in this simple little poem, as indeed in the bulk of Verlaine's verse, who never troubled himself much about theories and schools, save as regards the technique of poetry, as I hope to show in the second part of this paper. It is simply an exquisitely melodious little song, recalling the German Lieder.

Before concluding this part of my essay, may I be allowed to express the hope that my explanations, and more particularly the quotations I have given, may convince those who have not studied the poetry of the French Symbolist school that all French verse is not cold and rhetorical, that it no longer lacks soul, 'the haunting, elusive magic of wistful words set to the music of their rhythm, the finer light in light, that are the essence of poetry.'



Technique and Language.


As the poetry of the Symbolists was from the first diametrically opposed to that of the Parnassians, their predecessors, a natural consequence of this opposition was a change in the technique of poetry; their object being to evoke what cannot be seen or minutely analysed, and not to transcribe the visible world, they were inevitably led to abandon the methods of the plastic arts and to replace them by those of music. Verlaine exclaims in his Art Poétique a short poem of some forty lines composed somewhat late in the day:

De la musique encore et toujours!
Que ton vers soit la chose envolée
Qu'on sent qui fuit d'une âme en allée
Vers d'autres cieux à d'autres amours
                  (Choix de Poésies, p. 251.)

This conception of verse was perfectly reasonable in the eyes of men whose ideal was a poetry of dreams and shadows:

Car nous voulons la Nuance encor,
Pas la Couleur, rien que la nuance!
Oh! la nuance seule fiance
Le rêve au rêve et la fûte au cor!

                                  (Ibid., p. 251.)

We will now examine separately and in detail the technical modifications introduced by the Symbolists.

They seem to pride themselves especially on having made a liberal use of measures containing an odd number of syllables greater than seven, and claim that these lines (of 9, 11, or 13 syllables) have an inherent vagueness that makes them particularly adaptable to the kind of verse which they write:

De la musique avant toute chose,
Et pour cela préfère l'Impair
Plus vague et plus soluble dans l'air,
Sans rien en lui qui pèse ou qui pose
                                  (Ibid,, p. 260.)

We fear that on this point the new poets have been carried away by their imagination, and we fail to see why the stanzas quoted above (in lines of nine syllables), or the following lines of thirteen syllables from Verlaine's Amour, should be more 'vague' and 'soluble ' than if he had made use of the decasyllabic or of the Alexandrine:

Simplement, comme on verse un parfum sur une flamme
Et comme un soldat répand son sang pour la patrie,
Je voudrais pouvoir mettre mon cœur avec mon âme
Dans un beau cantique à la sainte Vierge Marie.
Mais je suis, hélas! un pauvre pécheur trop indigne,
Ma voix hurlerait parmi le chœur des voix des justes:
Ivre encor du vin amer de la terrestre vigne,
Elle pourrait offenser des oreilles augustes.
                                  (Ibid,, p. 276.)

Moreover, these Impairs are not peculiar to the Symbolists, as they seem too often [8] to forget, and have been employed by Mme. Desbordes-Valmore, Théodore de Banville, Maurice Rollinat, and largely by Richepin. Instances even occur in Ronsard and Malherbe, not to mention the old French poets, with whom these measures are by no means uncommon. 1

Much more legitimate and in keeping with their aspirations was the refusal of the Symbolists to follow blindly the so-called règle de l'alternance des rimes, which enjoins that a masculine rime must not be followed immediately by a different masculine rime, and in the same way that two different feminine rimes must not succeed each other immediately. Although this rule has long since become absurd, it has been faithfully observed by all poetic schools since Ronsard's day who was the first to formulate it, 2 and even the Romanticists, ardent revolutionists and reformers as they were in more than one respect, failed to see what fine effects could be attained by the use of rimes exclusively masculine or feminine, according as the poet wished to express precise or vague ideas. It follows naturally from the character of the new poetry that when the rimes are not mixed, feminine rimes are used exclusively, as in the well-known song of Verlaine:

Écoutez la chanson bien douce
Qui ne pleure que pour vous plaire,
Elle est discrète, elle est légère:
Un frisson d'eau sur de la mousse! etc.
                                  (Ibid., p. 161.)

Or in this less hackneyed piece by Fernand Gregh, one of the most promising of the younger poets, to whom the Academy awarded the Prix Archon-Despérouses some few years ago:

En hiver, près de l'âtre où le vent gronde et pleure,
Ayant derrière nous nos ombres colossales,
Nous écutions craquer le parquet vieux des salles,
Et parfois une horloge au loin chevroter l'heure . . .

Puis, tous les miroirs gris qu'un reflet vert effleure,
Le long des corridors pavés de grandes dalles,
Frissonnants au seul bruit fourré de nos sandales,
Nous allions dans le froid de l'antique demeure.

Dehors, tourblllonnait la neige des tourmentes,
Et, frileux, nous serrions nos doigts joints sous nos mantes,
Et le vent éternel emportait les journées;

Aux vitres pâlissaient de grandes fleurs de givre,
Et le temps s'arrêtait, tout semblait las de vivre,
Et dans l'ombre sonnaient des heures étonnées.
                            (La Maison de l'Enfance, p. 30.)

By the same opportunity the old epic feminine cæsura, which died out with Marot, might have been revived with advantage, the hypermetrical feminine syllable that could be placed at the end of the first hemistich, as now at the end of the line, tending considerably to reduce the already too marked monotony of French verse:

En plusors leus | avez sovant oi
Que la ligné -e | de nul home n'issi
Ne tant preudo -me, | ce sachiez bien de fi.
Com de cest con -te, | seignor, que ge vos di.
Bien ait la da -me | quel porta et norri.
Car tuit en fu -rent | li pais repleni
Et tuit li leu, | ce set en bien de fi
Ou Damedeu | et si saint sont servi.
                  (Aymeri de Narbonne, II. 23-32.)

I am aware that a few isolated examples of this kind of cæsura are found in the works of Verlaine, but they are rather accidental than intentional:

Comme ceux des aimé -es | que la Vie exila.
                        (Choix de Poésies, p. 11.)

Verlaine and a few of the other Symbolists have tried the experiment of coupling masculine and feminine rimes, which of course is forbidden by the traditional rules of French prosody. This practice is legitimate enough in cases where the feminine endings (-e, -es, -ent) are preceded by a vowel, for in that case there is perfect homophony according to modern pronunciation; but it cannot be defended whenever the feminine ending is preceded by a consonant, more particularly a double consonant, for then, although the feminine ending has no syllabic value in pronunciation, it brings about a lengthening of the preceding syllable which differentiates clearly such rimes as Nivelle: Michel; public: Angélique, etc., which occur in the following quotation:

Cest le chien de Jean de Nivelle
Qui mord sous l'œil même du guet
Le chat de la mère Michel;
François-les-bas-bleus s'en égare.

La lune à l'écrivain public
Dispense sa lumière obscure
Où Médor avec Angelique
Verdissent sur le pauvre mur, etc.
                        (Choix de Poésies, p. 120.)

It may be noted that as far back as 1844 Théodore de Banville had experimented on this same point:

Chante ta chanson, ô doux rossignol!
     Ta chanson qui nous console,

Et que pour toi seul, à côté du lys,
     La rose ouvre son calice! etc.
                (Stalactites, éd. Lemerre, p. 72.)

Logical likewise from their standpoint was the revolt of the Symbolists against [9] the exigences of 'rich' rime, which, gaining ground rapidly from the beginning of the Romantic movement, had become positively tyrannical:

Prends l'éloquence et tords-lui son cou!
Tu feras bien, en train d'énergie,
De rendre un peu la Rime assagie,
Si l'on n'y veille, elle ira jusqu'où?

Oh ! qui dira les torts de la Rime?
Quel enfant sourd ou quel nègre fou
Nous a forgé ce bijou d'un sou
Qui sonne creux et faux sous la lime?

      (Verlaine, Art Poétique, Choix, p. 250.)

Long before Verlaine, Alfred de Musset had poked fun at the apostles of the consonne d'appui at all costs. In a passage of La Coupe et les lèvres he exclaims:

Gloire aux auteurs nouveaux, qui veulent à la rime
Une lettre de plus qu'il n'en fallait jadis!
Bravo! c'est un bon clou de plus à la pensée.
La vieille liberté par Voltaire laissée
Etait bonne autrefois pour les petits esprits.
      (Premières Poésies, éd. Charpenter, p. 211.)

The Symbolists not only claim absolute freedom in the use of 'rich' or 'sufficient' rime, but are occasionally satisfied with rimes that are only approximatively homophonous and even with mere assonances, if the character of the subject in hand demands it. Such, for example, are the rimes, douce: bouche; onde: sombre; plaine: fraternelle; tristesse: baise, in la Brise en Larmes of Fernand Gregh:

Ciel gris au-dessus des charmes
Pluie invisible et si douce
Que sa caresse à ma bouche
Est comme un baiser en larmes;

Vent qui flotte sur la plaine
Avec les remous d'une onde
Doux vent qui sous le ciel sombre
Erre comme une âme en peine.

Ame en peine, âme des choses
Qui frissonne sur la plaine,
Ame éparse et fraternelle
Des cieux, de l'ombre et des roses;

Ciel, forêt bleue, aube grise,
Doux amis de ma tristesse,
Ma bouche au hasard vous baise
Sur les lèvres de la brise . . .
      (La Maison de l'Enfance, pp. 65-6.)

The poetic credo of the Symbolists as regards form is well expressed in Samain's lines:

Je rêve de vers doux et d'intimes ramages,
De vers à frôler l'âme ainsi que des plumages,

De vers blonds où le sens fluide se délie,
Comme sous l'eau la chevelure d'Ophélie,

De vers silencieux et sans rythme et sans trame,
Où la rime sans bruit glisse comme une rame,

De vers d'une ancienne étoffe, exténuée,
Impalpable comme le son et la nuée,

De vers de soirs d'automne ensorcelant les heures
Au rite féminin des syllabes mineures, etc
                            (Au Jardin de l'Infante, p. 67.)

The remaining technical innovations of the group of poets in question are not the inevitable result of any special conception of poetry, but due merely to a reasoned examination of the traditional tenets of French verse, many of which failing to keep pace with the evolution of French pronunciation have become positively absurd, while others had been applied till then with a rigour that was quite unnecessary and even detrimental to poetic conception. Thus they have systematically disregarded the ridiculous rule – reasonable enough as long as all final consonants were audible before any pause – which forbids rimes between words, though they be perfectly homophonous, unless those rimes are equally true in liaison. It is only fair to add, however, that the Romanticists and Parnassians, and much before them La Fontaine, had already shown a measure of independence on that score, especially as regards those words in which the final consonant is preceded by a nasal, such rimes as témoin: poing; commun: empunt; sang: finissant: blanc: méchant, etc., being found quite commonly; but the real precursor in this one point is Alfred de Musset, who for the sheer fun of the thing loved to upset any petty rule or restriction. 1

Little heed is also paid to the avoidance of hiatus, the same attitude in this respect being assumed as by Ronsard and his school: 2

J'ai bu en sa fraichenr le vin inespéré.
            (De Régnier, Premiers Poèmes, p. 12.)
Parce qu'il n'est plus rien de ce qu'il a été,
                        (Ibid., Tel qu'en songe, p. 60.)
J'ai bu au tuyau de fer de la source douce.
                (Francis Jammes, L'Angélus, p. 24.)
Les membres délicats où tu es eufermée.
                            (Moréas, Poésies, p. 141.)
Qui au bout du jardin se couvre de feuillage.
                                              (Ibid.,p. 153.)

Some of the bolder innovators likewise follow in the footsteps of the leader of the Pléiade 3 when they propose the syncope of [10] the feminine e in order to avoid the exclusion from the body of the line before an initial consonant of all words the accented vowel of which is immediately followed by -e, -es, or -ent:

Qui a le cœur couard, né' d'une faible mère.
                            (Moréas, Poésies, p. 162.)
Ni la rive abordé' de la Troyenne proue.
                                              (Ibid, p. 178.)

At other times the feminine e in the same position is written but not counted in the measure, a practice also borrowed from the poets of the sixteenth century. 1

Les moineaux des vieux toits pépi-(ent) à ma fenetre.
    (Jules Laforgue, Poésies Complètes p. 35.)
Entends-tu la Foli-(e) qui plane?
                                            (Ibid., p. 112.)

All these reforms and extensions of liberties that already existed in germ were well enough, but we come to much more debatable ground with the theory of 'free verse,' probably deduced from Walt Whitman, which has become the battlecry of a few of the noisiest and less gifted members of the group.

The vers-libristes, as they are pleased to call themselves, claim absolute freedom in art; the only criterion they say is beauty, and the poet should be left unhampered to choose his own rhythms according to the impulse of emotional necessity: Le vers est libre; – ce qui ne veut nullement dire que le vieil Alexandrin . . . soit aboli ou instauré; mais – plus largement – que nulle forme fixe n'est plus considérée comme le moule nécessaire à l'expression de toute pensée poétique; que désormais comme toujours, mais consciemment libre cette fois, le poète obéira au rythme personnel, auquel il doit être, sans que M. de Banville ou tout autre législateur du Parnasse aient à intervenir (Francis Vielé-Griffin: Joies, Préface, 1889). But M. Vielé-Griffin and the other advocates of vers libres overlook several important principles, which, if they had considered them for a moment, would have convinced them that they were aiming at the impossible. First of all they seem to ignore the fact that all the greatest French poets have found the Alexandrine – the standard French line – capable of adapting itself to the most varied emotions, not to speak of the shorter measures which are at the disposal of him who wishes to write French verse. Secondly, they forget the still more important fact that all arts obey certain rules, more or less subtle it is true, and that one of the fundamental principles of French prosody is number, without which no French verse is possible. I do not deny that the following 'laisse' of M. Vielé-Griffin is rhythmical. It may even be rhythmical prose, but it is certainly not French poetry:

II fait bon s'en aller au bois l'avril
Cueillir l'épine blanche aux haies sans feuilles,
Les sombres violettes, les pâles aubépines,
– Tristesse et joie en guirlandes futiles,
Deuils blancs, deuils violets
Qu'aux bois d'avril tu cueilles,
Espoir seulet,
De ta main fine.
                (Poèmes et Poésies, p. 161.)

The best way of proving this assertion is to take a few lines of one of the Ballades of Paul Fort who only claims to write rhythmical prose, and to interchange the typographical arrangement. It will first of all be necessary to quote Paul Fort's lines as they stand in the original: –

Laisse nager le ciel entier dans tes yeux sombres, et mêle ton silence à l'ombre de la terre: si la vie ne fait pas une ombre sur une ombre, tes yeux et sa rosée sont les miroirs des sphères.
        Sens ton âme monter sur sa tige éternelle: l'émotion divine, et parvenir aux cieux, suis des yeux ton étoiie, ou ton âme éternelle, entr'ouvrant sa corolle et parfumant les cieux.     (Ballades Françaises.)

Now if the above lines are printed as vers libres:

Laisse nager le ciel entier dans tes yeux sombres,
Et mêle ton silence à l'ombre de la terre:
Si ta vie ne fait pas une ombre sur une ombre,
Tes yeux et sa rosée sont les miroirs des sphères.

Or rather thus, for otherwise I notice they would be very much like Alexandrines, and consequently superior to the free verses of Vielé-Griffin:

Laisse nager le ciel entier
Dans tes yeux sombres,
Et mêle ton silence à l'ombre de la terre:
Si ta vie ne fait pas
Une ombre sur une ombre,
Tes yeux et sa rosée
Sont les miroirs des sphères, etc.

On the other hand, if the stanza from Vielé-Griffin is written like prose, I venture to think that the demonstration will be complete:

Il fait bon s'en aller au bois d'avril cueillir l'épine blanche aux haies sans feuilles, les sombres violettes, les pâles aubépines: tristesse et joie en guirlandes futiles, deuils blancs, deuils violets qu"aux bois d'avril tu cueilles, espoir seulet, de ta main fine.

Moreover, supposing these objections did [11] not hold good, it is impossible to grant that such outpourings as the following are dictated by emotional necessity:

Je leur dirai.
Que rien ne pleure, ici,
Et que le vent d"automne, aussi,
Lui qu'on croit triste, est un bymne d'espoir;
Je leur dirai
Que rien n'est triste ici, matin et soir,
Si non, au loin,
Lorsque novembre bruit aux branches
Poussant les feuilles au long des sentes blanches
– Elles fuient, il les relance
Jusqu'à ce qu'elles tombent lasses,
Alors il passe et rit –
Que rien n'est triste ici.
Si non, au loin, sur l'autre côté,
Monotone comme un sonnant la même note,
Le heurt des haches brandit tout un jour,
Pesant et lourd.
        (Vielé-Griffin, Poèmes et Poésies, p. 196.)

These lines, it is urged, would not lose by running thus; on the contrary they would gain, for then the rimes – another essential condition of French verse – would not be so scattered:

Je leur dirai, que rien ne pleure, ici,
Et que le vent d'automne, aussi,
Lui qu'on croit triste, est un hymne d'espoir;
Je leur dirai que rien n'est triste ici, matin et soir, etc.

Neither can the vers libres of La Fontaine, Molière, or Corneille be alleged in selfdefence by these bold experimenters; with the classicists the blending of the different measures was never arbitrary; they were careful not to make a very short line follow immediately on a very long line and vice versâ and also avoided the close combination of measures which differed only by one syllable more or less. By so doing they showed that they were solicitous of number, and that they recognised it as one of the fundamental and indispensable principles of French versification.

It is also worth noticing that Verlaine, who probably had as fine a sense of rhythm as any modern poet, persistently refused to lend his sanction to the innovations of the vers-libristes, and subsequently disowned the few verses of this kind composed in his youth.

The desire to appropriate the qualities peculiar to music was also responsible for many changes in the syntax and vocabulary of the language. It cannot be said in a general way that the Symbolists have been happily inspired in this respect; the purpose and aim of many of their innovations are far from obvious, and their endeavour to increase the suggestive value of the sounds of words not infrequently leads them to upset the accepted meaning of words and jumble together the logical syntactical elements of the sentence.

Naturally the full force of these remarks only applies to those of the Symbolists who sought to make up for lack of inspiration by elaborating a kind of aristocratic poetic language only intelligible to the initiated:

Un art bien élaboré
Et du vulgaire abhorré!
                          (Moréas, Poésies, p. 64.)

As far as the syntax is concerned the most striking peculiarities are perhaps the following: –

The use of intransitive verbs as transitive verbs:

N'ai-je pas sangloté ton angoisse supreme?
                          (Verlaine, Choix, p. 180.)
        Tu ne veux que sourire un regret.
                    (Vielé-Griffin, Poèmes, p. 89.)
Vos yeux mentent l'azur de leur limpidity.
            (De Rénier, Prem. Poèmes, p. 263.)

A marked prepossession for the reflexive form of verbs as in Middle French:

Vers le soleil qui s'agonise.
                 (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 96.)
Où j'étais ce mauvais sans plus qui s'édulcore.
                           (Verlaine, Choix, p. 274.)
Le son du cor s'afflige vers le bois.
                                          (Ibid., p. 201.)
Dans ce halo de linge où le front s'angélise.
                                (V. B. and L., p. 302.)

Aller used as a semi-auxiliary, as in Old and Middle French, is especially affected by Verlaine, even when all idea of motion is absent:

Vont contrastant parmi l'or somptueux d'un soir.
                                          (Choix, p. 59.)

Prepositions are used very loosely: à=par, à=jusqu'à, à=de, de=par, jusque=jusqu'à, and en le, en la=dans le, dans la – all occur commonly.

The vocabulary was likewise considerably hustled and increased, the idea being much the same as that of the Pléiade in the sixteenth century, that it was legitimate to draw from all sources in order to enrich poetic diction.

The desire to appear new and original often leads to forced images and comparisons, Laforgue particularly being an offender in this respect:

Moi, je suis laminé d'esthétiques loyales.
                             (Poés. Compl., p. 176.)
Ils disent d'un œil faisandé
                                        (Ibid., p. 171.)
Qui grignotent des lieues.
                                          (Ibid., p. 45.)

I hardly think, however, that such turns as the following, in the same poet, should be taken seriously:

[12] Cétait un très-au-vent-d'octobre paysage,
                       (Poésies Complètes, p. 37.)
Feu-d'artificeront envers vous mes sens encensoirs.
                                          (Ibid., p. 64.)

Rare technical terms seem to have a particular attraction: 1

Mais aux poignets sertis des Belles souriantes.
              (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 175.)
Dont la griffe au pli raye un ancien lampas.
                                         (Ibid., p. 265.)
Et prosté aux coussius où son mal la taraude.
          (A. Samain, Au Jard. de l'Inf., p. 159.)
Au gouffre lamé de passé qui souffre.
                               (V. B. and L., p. 105.)

The Symbolists, more particularly De Régnier, are also very fond of using all figures of speech in which abstractions enter:

Où blanchira le vol des colombes fidèles.
               (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 29.)
La multiplicité verticule des troncs.
                                          (Ibid., p. 38.)
Les cristaux incrustés aux rondeurs des colonnes.
                                        (Ibid., p. 134.)
Où la flûte s'essouffle en cascades de rires.
                                        (Ibid., p. 153.)

They have also continued the derivation of substantives from the accented stem of verbs:

Mes orgueils, écumants du haut frein de mon veuil.
                  (Vielé- Griffin, Poèmes, p. 81.)
Va, globe au studieux pourchas.
              (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 101.)

Derivation by means of suffixes is responsible for a large number of the new words invented, (a) Verbs: Pèleriner (Verhaeren, Poèm., i. p. 99), vacarmer (ibid., p. 66), ceinturer (ibid., p. 92), larmer (ibid., p. 114), fronder='to put on leaves' (Moréas, Poés., p. 51), roser (Vielé-Griffin, Poèm., p. 114), salter (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 308), ombrer (ibid., p. 103), hallaliser (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 53), auber (ibid., p. 88), ubiquiter (ibid., p. 90), aubader (ibid., p. 108), etc.

(b) Adjectives: hosannahlle (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 100), don quichottesque (ibid., p. 237), aurorale (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 192, étesien (ibid., p. 133), ramé (De la Tailhède, Métamorphose, p. 15), feuillèrent (F. B. and L., p. 324).

(c) Substantives are very common: apercevance, badauderie, errance, fragrance, lissage, ouatement, verslibriste, voyance, etc., etc.

Composition by means of particles is rarer:

Tout le passé s'enlinceule de givre.
                  (Vielé-Griffin, Poèmes, p. 152.)
Bat toujours d'un grand bruit incessant, inlassé.
                 (Gregh, Maison de l'Enf., p. 44.)
Prends garde d'enrubanner ta douceur.
                                          (Ibid., p. 87.)

A large number of mots savants are borrowed from Latin, or those of the same kind which were abandoned after the first exuberance of the Renaissance, are revived: Inébrié (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 105), viride (ibid., p. 126), quiète (ibid., p. 143), incurvé (ibid., p. 174), florescent (ibid., p. 174), décliver (ibid., p. 180), gracile (ibid., p. 192), squame (ibid., p. 249), ultime (ibid., p. 319), immarcessible (Vielé-Griffin, Poèmes, p. 74), hilare (ibid., p. 26), ululer (ibid., p. 30), alacre (ibid., p. 82), fluer (Verlaine, Choix, p. 285), igné (ibid., p. 262), facond (Moréas, Poèmes, p. 223), fulve (ibid., p. 51), albe (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 162), alme (F. Gregh, Maison de l'Enf., p. 18), élucider (F. B. and L., p. 306), sylve (ibid., p. 247).

Occasionally the mot savant receives its original Latin meaning:

Je t'apparus parmi la candeur du ciel bleu.
            (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 182.)
  Parmi les matelots endormis ou prolixes.
        (F. Gregh, Maison de l'Enf., p. 208.)

A striking peculiarity is the liberal borrowing of words from O.F. and from sixteenth-century French:

ardre (Vielé-Griffin, Poèmes, p. 16), emmi (ibid., p. 69), gone (ibid., p. 80), aigue (ibid., p. 121), orée (ibid., p. 122), s'éperdre (ibid., p. 208), prée (ibid., p. 238), issir (ibid., p. 305), ire (De Régnier, Prem. Poèm., p. 128), hoir (ibid., p. 138), rai (ibid., p. 141), gemmé (ibid., p. 173), clamer (Verlaine, Choice, p. 74), fiance (ibid., p. 251), soulas (ibid., p. 317), ahanner (Laforgue, Poés. Compl., p. 179), attraire (F. B. and L., p. 247).

No one has gone so far in this respect as Jean Moréas, who has gradually drifted from symbolism, and by a curious evolution, which his Hellenic origin explains in part, became the leader of the so-called école romane, whose ambition it is to rival the school of Ronsard 2:

      Moi que la noble Athene a nourri,
      Moi l'élu des Nymphes de la Seine,
Je ne suis pas un ignorant dont les Muses ont ri
      [13] L'intègre élément de ma voix
  Suscite le harpeur, honneur du Vendômois:
Et le comte Thibaut n'eut pas de plainte plus douce
      Que les lays amoureux qui naissent sous mon pouce.
      L'Hymne et la Parthénie, en mon âme sereine,
      Seront les chars vainqueurs qui courent dans l'arène;
        Et je ferai que la Chanson
        Soupire d'un tant! courtois son,
      Et pareille au ramier quand la saison le presse.
        Car par le rite que je sais,
      Sur de nouvelles fleurs, les abeilles de Grèce
        Butineront un miel français.
            (Jean Moréas, Poésies, p. 131-2.)

I quote a few examples of these old words from the Poésies (1886-1896) of Moréas, which show that he cannot possibly be read without an Old French dictionary by those who have no knowledge of the older language:

mire (médecin, p. 13), bouhour (joute, p. 17), barat (tromperie, p. 63), trop plus (beaucoup plus, p. 70), ord (sale, still seen in ordure, p. 71), cuide (crois, p. 71), gorgias (élégant, coquet, p. 75 – the same word as the English 'gorgeous'), coint (gentil, p. 90 – the English 'quaint'), sade (doux, gentil, p. 99), nice (simple, innocent, sot, p. 99 – the English 'nice'), guerdon (récompense, p. 100), etc.

Moréas even resuscitated the Homeric compounds dear to the Pléiade, and to Du Bartas especially:

Fila quenouillette aime-laine.
                                (Poésies, p. 70.)
Poussent parmi les champs le bœuf creuse-sillons.
                                  (Ibid., p. 145.)

The idea of borrowing from O.F. was probably suggested by the example of Ronsard and his associates, and by his words in the Art Poétique 1 or those of Du Bellay, in the Deffence et Illustration de la Langue Francoyse (1549):

Quand au reste, use de motz purement Francoys, non toutefois trop communs, non point aussi trop inusitez, si tu ne voulois quelquefois usurper, et quasi comme enchâsser ainsi qu'une Pierre précieuse, et rare, quelques motz antiques en ton Poëme, à l'exemple de Virgile, qui a usé de ce mot 'olli' pour 'illi,' 'aulai' pour 'aulœ,' et autres. Pour ce faire, te faudroit voir tous ces vieux Romans, et Poëtes Francoys, ou tu trouveras un 'ajourner,' pour 'faire jour' (que les Praticiens se sont fait propre), 'anuyter,' pour 'faire nuyt,' 'assener,' pour 'frapper' ... 'isnel,' pour 'leger,' et mil autres bons motz, que nous avons perdu par notre negligence (éd. Person, p. 129-130).

But though this method was defensible at a time when the Pléiade were striving to create a poetic vocabulary capable of sustaining higher themes and equalling that of Greek and Latin, it is absurd to repeat the same experiment after a lapse of three hundred and fifty years. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that a good proportion of the old words found in the works of the poets of the second half of the sixteenth century were merely 'archaic' 2 to them, whereas two-thirds at least of those used by Moréas and his disciples are sheer Hebrew to the average Frenchman. Fortunately, in spite of his undoubted talent, Moréas has found comparatively few followers, and the Symbolist school as a whole cannot with any justice be held responsible for his eccentricities.



[Die Anmerkungen stehen als Fußnoten auf den in eckigen Klammern bezeichneten Seiten]

[3] 1 The Symbolist Movement in Literature, London, W. Heinemann, 1899.   zurück

[4] 1 Poètes d'aujourd'hui, 1880-1900. Morceaux Choisis, Accompagnés de Notices Biographiques et d'un Essai de Bibliographie. Published by the Société du Mercure de France. Paris, 1900.   zurück

[4] 2 See Jules Huret, Enquète sur lÉvolution Littéraire, p. 60. Paris, 1894.   zurück

[6] 1 Cf. Recherches de la France (1560-65). Paris, ii. p. 79.   zurück

[8] 1 See Bartsch's article in the Zts. f. rom, Phil., ii. 196.   zurück

[8] 2 See Abrégé de l'Art Poétique in Œuvres (éd. Blanchemain), vii. p. 324.   zurück

[9] 1 The following rimes, for example, are found in De Musset: – tapis: tapi; nom: moribond; plomb: sillon; haut: Jung-Frau; où: loup; d'or: dort; autrui: nuit – all in the Premières Poésies,   zurück

[9] 2 Œuvres, éd. Blanchemain, vii. p. 327.   zurück

[9] 3 Ibid., pp. 327-8.   zurück

[10] 1 Cf. Poésies Choisies de Baïf, éd. Becq de Fouquières, p. 314, I. 18:
                  Toy qui levant la veu(e) trop haute.
                                                            (Les Mimes.) zurück

[12] 1 Compare Ronsard's words: 'Tu practiqueras bien souvent les artisans de tous mestiers, comme de Marine, Venerie, Fauconnerie, et principalement les artisans de feu, Orfèvres, Fondeurs, Mareschaux, Minerailliers; et de là tireras maintes belles et vives comparaisons avecques les noms propres des mestiers, pour enrichir ton œuvre et le rendre plus agréable et parfait' (Art Poétique, (Œuvres, éd. Blanchemain, vii. p. 320-321). zurück

[12] 2 The literary manifesto of the école romane will be found in the preface of Moréas' Pèlerin Passioné. zurück

[13] 1 Cf. Œuvres, éd. Blanchemain, vii. p. 320.   Cf. also Preface to the Franciade, Œuvres, iii p. 32. zurück

[13] 2 I allude to such words as aherdre (s'attacher à), bienveignier (accueillir avec bienveillance), brehaing (stérile), eschever (esquiver, éviter), esmayer (émouvoir), iré (irrité), souef (doux), souloir (avoir coutume), etc. zurück





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Modern Language Quarterly.
Bd. 6, 1903, Nr. 1, April, S. 3-13.

Gezeichnet: L. E. Kastner.

URL: https://archive.org/details/modernlanguageq05britgoog

The Modern Language Quarterly (1900-1904)   online
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/008895788
URL: https://archive.org/advancedsearch.php
URL: https://www.jstor.org/journal/modelangquar1900

Die Textwiedergabe erfolgt nach dem ersten Druck (Editionsrichtlinien).




Brandmeyer, Rudolf: Poetiken der Lyrik: Von der Normpoetik zur Autorenpoetik. In: Handbuch Lyrik. Theorie, Analyse, Geschichte. Hrsg. von Dieter Lamping. 2. Aufl. Stuttgart 2016, S. 2-15.

Décaudin, Michel: La crise des valeurs symbolistes. Vingt ans de poésie française 1895 – 1914. Genf u.a. 1981 (= Références, 11).

Habib, M. A. R. (Hrsg.): The Cambridge History of Literary Criticism, 6: The Nineteenth Century, c. 1830-1914. Cambridge 2013.

Higgins, Jennifer: English Responses to French Poetry 1880-1940. Translation and Mediation. Leeds 2011.

Kastner, Leon Emile / Atkins, Henry Gibson: A Short History of French Literature. New York 1901.
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/100746852

Kastner, Leon Emile: A History of French Versification. Oxford 1903.
URL: https://archive.org/details/historyoffrenchv00kastuoft
URL: https://catalog.hathitrust.org/Record/001076017

Martin, Meredith: The Rise and Fall of Meter. Poetry and English National Culture, 1860-1930. Princeton u.a. 2012.

Murat, Michel: Le vers libre. Paris 2008 (= Littérature de notre siècle, 36).

Temple, Ruth Z.: The Critic's Alchemy. A Study of the Introduction of French Symbolism into England. New York 1953.



Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer