21 May 2003
Jean sent me this, distributed on a list she subscribes to. It's from Baudelaire's preface to Le Spleen de Paris (until this moment, I had no idea that the French for spleen was spleen: unlikely, but I'm very glad to learn it), and it is too beautiful to let pass unregarded. It also describes the point and purpose of what I do, what I aim at, what I struggle for; and does it more acutely than ever I have managed. Damn these poets, sometimes they do nail a thing absolutely. But I still say that ours is the more challenging art, to do the work without the labour-saving tools of rhyme and metre and long-established templates.
Anyway, Baudelaire said this:
Quel est celui de nous qui n'a pas, dans ses jours d'ambition, rêvé le miracle d'une prose poétique, musicale sans rythme et sans rime, assez souple et assez heurtée pour s'adapter aux mouvements lyriques de l'âme, aux ondulations de la rêverie, aux soubresauts de la conscience ?
And an unacknowledged hand translates it thus:
Who among us has not, in his ambitious moments, dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without meter or rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the jolts of consciousness?
There's a line to go to bed with. So I shall.
© Chaz Brenchley 2003
Reproduced here by permission of Chaz Brenchley, who asserts his moral right to be identified as the author of this work.