Last Verses

Overview

The Last Verses of Jules Laforgue is the first full-length collection of free verse published in the French language and, in many ways, it remains far in advance of any free verse innovations conjured in the past one hundred years and more. Laforgue, in his famous Complaints and Harlequinades, was a profound influence upon such Modernist poets as Eliot and Pound. Yet in his Last Verses he set a precedent which no one as yet has managed to emulate or to advance. Why should this be? Simply put, Last Verses does not...
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Overview

The Last Verses of Jules Laforgue is the first full-length collection of free verse published in the French language and, in many ways, it remains far in advance of any free verse innovations conjured in the past one hundred years and more. Laforgue, in his famous Complaints and Harlequinades, was a profound influence upon such Modernist poets as Eliot and Pound. Yet in his Last Verses he set a precedent which no one as yet has managed to emulate or to advance. Why should this be? Simply put, Last Verses does not reject poetic formalism but, rather, projects it into uncharted and unvoiced regions of spiritual and sexual extremity. The freedom of these poems rests entirely in the purity of their despair, a purity not to be measured by any extant means. This music is made by no instrument but itself. This music is made on the farther shore of death.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Laforgue (1860-1887) will never command the name recognition of Baudelaire or Rimbaud, but he stands just one step below those giants in his importance to European letters: T.S. Eliot said that he found his own style through youthful devotion to the tormented Laforgue, whose self-dramatizing, sometimes self-satirizing, odes and effusions brought free verse to France. Torment takes control in this volatile suite, composed in the last years of the tubercular poet’s short life: exclamations reflect an obsessive lover, one who attributes his “simple agony” sometimes to the conditions of all existence, sometimes to romantic folly and self-doubt: “The world is the World, okay,” he resolves; “I’ll make a poisonous world of my own,” with “Every holiday/ An inquest and autopsy!” In the poem after that one Laforgue imagines himself as a satisfied dandy, “sprawled atop a stagecoach, smoking,/ Grinning at the sky.” A few pages later, though, he falls back into despair: “If only of her own free will one evening/ She’d come to drink at my lips or die!” Laforgue’s extremes come off superbly, neither too familiar nor antique, in the clean lines of Revell, admired for his own poetry as well as for other translations, including Rimbaud—whose fans should check Laforgue out ASAP. (Sept.)
From the Publisher

"This is an outstanding translation. Revell renders the French in just the right idiomatic language." —Marjorie Perloff on The Self-Dismembered Man and Alcools: Poems

"Contemporary poet Donald Revell gives us a vivid and vibrant interpretation of Apollinaire's masterpiece." —Virginia Quarterly Review on The Self-Dismembered Man and Alcools: Poems

"Woe to those readers who are doomed to read Rimbaud only in French, for in addition to giving us a bracing translation of Une Saison En Enfer, Donald Revell has given birth to a great poem." —James Longenbach on A Season in Hell

"He brings to his Rimbaldian projects an enviable range of knowledge, as well as a warm attachment to the work and a strong technique." —Fred Chappell, Asheville Poetry Review v.17 #1 on A Season in Hell

"[Last Verses] provides a new translation of what many consider the first free verse poetry in French, rendered beautifully by American poet and translator Revell." —Publishers Weekly (June 27, 2011)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781890650544
  • Publisher: Omnidawn Publishing
  • Publication date: 9/1/2011
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 1,486,103
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Among the most innovative of poets in the French language, JULES LAFORGUE was an important influence on the young T S Eliot and called and “exquisite poet” by Ezra Pound. Called both part-symbolist and part-impressionist, his associative method, speech-rhythms and heterogeneous diction make him one of the most individual French poets. Laforgue died at the age of 27 in 1887.

DONALD REVELL is Professor of English & Director of Creative Writing programs at UNLV. Thief of Strings is his tenth poetry collection, published by Alice James. Donald Revell's previous translations include The Illumninations by Arthur Rimbaud, and A Season in Hell by Arthur Rimbaud, both of which were published by Omnidawn. A Season in Hell won the PSA translation award. His books of essays include Invisible Green: Selected Prose, published by Omnidawn. He serves as poetry editor of Colorado Review. Revell lives in the desert south of Las Vegas with his wife, poet Claudia Keelan, and their children Benjamin Brecht and Lucie Ming.

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