Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Belated Birthday, Renée Vivien



Renée Vivien, b. June 11, 1877, was a British Symbolist poet who wrote in French. (Her mother, actually, was from Michigan.) She had an affair with American expat playwright Natalie Clifford Barney but was unable to tolerate the latter's infidelities. She was addicited to chloral hydrate and alcohol and tried unsuccessfully to overdose on laudanum. She eventually died at the age of 32 of pneumonia in the setting of substance abuse and, perhaps, anorexia (she had begun to starve herself and only weighed 70 lbs).

Excerpt from Chair des choses:

Je possède, en mes doigts subtils, le sens du monde,
Car le toucher pénètre ainsi que fait la voix,
L'harmonie et le songe et la douleur profonde
Frémissent longuement sur le bout de mes doigts.

Je comprends mieux, en les frôlant, les choses belles,
Je partage leur vie intense en les touchant,
C'est alors que je sais ce qu'elles ont en elles
De noble, de très doux et de pareil au chant.

Car mes doigts ont connu la chair des poteries
La chair lisse du marbre aux féminins contours
Que la main qui les sait modeler a meurtries,
Et celle de la perle et celle du velours...