Alcools: Poems

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Wesleyan University Press, 1995 - Literary Criticism - 171 pages
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Alcools, first published in 1913 and one of the few indispensable books of twentieth- century poetry, provides a key to the century’s history and consciousness. Champion of “cubism”, Guillaume Apollinaire (1880-1918) fashions in verse the sonic equivalent of what Picasso accomplishes in his cubist works: simultaneity. Apollinaire has been so influential that without him there would have been no New York School of poetry and no Beat Movement. This new translation reveals his complex, beautiful, and wholly contemporary poetry. Printed with the original French on facing pages, this is the only version of this seminal work of French Modernism currently available in the United States.
 

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This book is marred by poor scholarship. Just how good is Don Revell's French? The translations are hasty, incomplete and inaccurate. How could a reputable university agree to publish them? I am no scholar- a humble teacher of the language, but I think if you compare my literal translation of Les Colchiques with Don Revell's you can see the extent of the problem.
The meadow is poisonous but pretty in the Fall
The cows grazing in it
Are slowly being poisoned
The meadow saffron's bruised eye and lilac colour
Bloom there your eyes are like that flower
Purplish like their bruise and like this fall
And my life is slowly being poisoned for your eyes.
The children come noisily from school
Dressed in smocks (hoqueton = rough canvas cloth; hoquet = hiccup) and playing the mouth-organ
They gather the saffron flowers which are like mothers
Their daughters' daughters and are your eyelids' shade
Which flutter as the flowers flutter in the crazy wind.
The herd-boy sings softly
While slow and lowing the cows abandon
For ever this large meadow ill-flowered by the Fall.
 

Review: Alcools

User Review  - S. - Goodreads

Take a clean sheet of paper, add some serious heliotropes for uplift, but damp down with the melancholy of almonds and gypsies and sad hotels. Note the pallor roseying, the radiance, the soar that ... Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Le Pont Mirabeau I Mirabeau Bridge
12
Les Cokhiques I Saffrons
34
Clotilde
60
Marie
74
Salome Salome
84
Automne Autumn
98
Rhenanes Rhenanes
112
Signe Sign
130
Clair de Lune Clair de Lune
144
Hunting Horns
158
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About the author (1995)

DONALD REVELL recently became Writer-in Residence and Professor of English at the University of Utah. Winner of a Guggenheim and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, his most recent Wesleyan book is Beautiful Shirt (1994).

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