The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus

Overview

Guillaume Apollinaire’s first book of poems has charmed readers with its brief celebrations of animals, birds, fish, insects, and the mythical poet Orpheus since it was first published in 1911. Though Apollinaire would go on to longer and more ambitious work, his Bestiary reveals key elements of his later poetry, among them surprising images, wit, formal mastery, and wry irony.

X. J. Kennedy’s fresh translation follows Apollinaire in casting the poems into rhymed stanzas, ...

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Overview

Guillaume Apollinaire’s first book of poems has charmed readers with its brief celebrations of animals, birds, fish, insects, and the mythical poet Orpheus since it was first published in 1911. Though Apollinaire would go on to longer and more ambitious work, his Bestiary reveals key elements of his later poetry, among them surprising images, wit, formal mastery, and wry irony.

X. J. Kennedy’s fresh translation follows Apollinaire in casting the poems into rhymed stanzas, suggesting music and sudden closures while remaining faithful to their sense. Kennedy provides the English alongside the original French, inviting readers to compare the two and appreciate the fidelity of the former to the latter. He includes a critical and historical essay that relates the Bestiary to its sources in medieval "creature books," provides a brief biography and summation of the troubled circumstances surrounding the book’s initial publication, and places the poems in the context of Apollinaire’s work as a poet and as a champion of avant garde art.

This short introduction to the work of an essentially modern writer includes four curious poems apparently suppressed from the first edition and reprints of the Raoul Dufy woodcuts published in the 1911 edition.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Chronicles
This tasteful volume is just right for those who have a discerning eye and ear and appreciate the poetry of the natural world.

— Catharine Savage Brosman

Baltimore Magazine
From the textured, deckle-edged pages and bold type to the striking Raoul Dufy woodcuts, this collection of poems by lit legend Apollinaire is a joy to behold.
RALPH: Review of Arts, Literature, Philosophy, and the Humanities - A. W. Allworthy
A book to love, a treasure-trove.
Chronicles - Catharine Savage Brosman
This tasteful volume is just right for those who have a discerning eye and ear and appreciate the poetry of the natural world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781421400075
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 4/2/2011
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

X. J. Kennedy has written poetry, children's verse, and fiction as well as textbooks on writing and literature. Before becoming a full-time writer, he taught at the University of Michigan, the University of North Carolina–Greensboro, Tufts University, Wellesley College, the University of California–Irvine, and the University of Leeds. He now lives in Lexington, Massachusetts, with his wife and sometime coauthor, Dorothy M. Kennedy.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Table of Contents

A Natural History of the Poet: Apollinaire's Mythic Zoology vii

About This Translation xix

The Bestiary, or Procession of Orpheus

Orpheus 2

Tortoise 4

Horse 6

Tibetan Goat 8

Serpent 10

Cat 12

Lion 14

Hare 16

Rabbit 18

Dromedary 20

Mouse 22

Elephant 24

Orpheus 26

Caterpillar 28

Housefly 30

Flea 32

Grasshopper 34

Orpheus 36

Dolphin 38

Devilfish 40

Jellyfish 42

Crawfish 44

Carp 46

Orpheus 48

Sirens 50

Dove 52

Peacock 54

Owl 56

Ibis 58

Ox 60

Four Deleted Poems

Condor 65

Crab Louse 66

Ape 67

Spider 67

Notes 69

About the Translator 75

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