Is it really possible for a poet of this quality to disappear without a trace? Not alone, moreover: along with Carco, Derème, and a few others of this “fanciful school”, who, on the fringes of the noisy revolutions in art and literature, those where one nail always drives away the next, prided themselves on only knowing how to make verses. And such verses! Extremely virtuosic, both delectable and objectionable, more sly than appears, conforming to luxurious rhyme, acrobatic rhythm, and mischievous, eccentric enjambment, only to the degree that the thought found itself even more scathing, between humour and profound discontentment, between irony and despair. Their master, Paul-Jean Toulet, is still somewhat alive, thanks to a few accents (“Prends garde à la douceur des choses” – “Be wary of the sweetness of things”) that persist in every memory. To his art of dodging and modesty filled with emotion, are related the two poems by Jean Pellerin that I wanted to set to music; here, once again, there is talk of love and death, these two compulsory figures of our theatre; and if, in the latter, suffering is expressed in plain language, it is because the acrobatics of a rhyme or a rejet takes away nothing from the gravity of that mask.
(translation: John Tyler Tuttle)
baryton et piano
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