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Paul Verlaine

Paul VerlaineAKA Paul-Marie Verlaine

Born: 30-Mar-1844
Birthplace: Metz, France
Died: 8-Jan-1896
Location of death: Paris, France
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Cimitiere des Batignolles, Paris, France

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Bisexual
Occupation: Poet

Nationality: France
Executive summary: Leader of symbolist poetry movement

French lyric poet, born at Metz on the 30th of March 1844. He was the son of one of Napoleon's soldiers, who had become a captain of engineers. Paul Verlaine was educated in Paris, and became clerk in an insurance company. He was a member of the Parnassian circle, with Catulle Mendès, Sully Prudhomme, François Coppée and the rest. His first volume of poems, the Poèmes saturniens (1866), was written under Parnassian influences, from which the Fêtes galantes (1869), as of a Watteau of poetry, began a delicate escape; and in La Bonne Chanson (1870) the defection was still more marked. He married in 1870 Mlle. Mautet. During the Commune he was involved with the authorities for having sheltered his friends, and was obliged to leave France. In 1871 the strange young poet Arthur Rimbaud came somewhat troublingly into his life, into which drink had already brought a lasting disturbance. With his lover Rimbaud he wandered over France, Belgium, England, until a pistol-shot, fortunately ill-aimed, against his companion brought upon him two years of imprisonment at Mons. Solitude, confinement and thought converted a pagan into a Catholic, without, however, rooting out what was most human in the pagan; and after many years' silence he published Sagesse (1881), a collection of religious poems, which, for humble and passionate conviction, as well as originality of poetic beauty, must be ranked with the finest religious poems ever written. Romances sans paroles, composed during the intervals of wandering, appeared in 1874, and shows us Verlaine at his most perfect moment of artistic self-possession, before he has quite found what is deepest in himself. He returned to France in 1875. His wife had obtained a divorce from him, and Verlaine made another short stay in England, acting as a teacher of French. After about two years' absence Verlaine was again in France. He acted as teacher in more than one school and even tried farming. The death of his mother, to whom he was tenderly attached, dissolved the ties that bound him to "respectable" society. During the rest of his life he lived in poverty, often in hospital, but always with the heedless and unconquerable cheerfulness of a child. After a long obscurity, famous only in the Latin Quarter, among the cafés where he spent so much of his days and nights, he enjoyed at last a European celebrity. In 1894 he paid another visit to England, this time as a distinguished poet, and lectured at London and Oxford. He died in Paris on the 8th of January 1896. His eighteen volumes of verse (among which may be further mentioned Jadis et naguère, 1884; Amour, 1888; Parallèlement, 1889; Bonheur, 1891) vary greatly in quality as in substance; they are all the sincere expression, almost the instantaneous notation, of himself, of his varying moods, sensual passion, the passion of the mystic, the delight of the sensitive artist in the fine shades of sensation. He brought into French verse a note of lyrical song, a delicacy in the evocation of sound and color, which has seemed almost to create poetry over again, as it provides a language out of which rhetoric has been cleansed and a rhythm into which a new music has come with a new simplicity.

Father: Nicolas Auguste Verlaine (b. 1798, d. 1865)
Mother: Elisa Stéphanie Dehée (b. 1809, d. 1886)
Wife: Mathilde Maute (separated around 1872)
Son: (one son from Mathilde)
Boyfriend: Arthur Rimbaud

Author of books:
Poèmes Saturniens (1866, poetry)
Fêtes galantes (1869, poetry)
La Bonne Chanson (1870, poetry)
Romances sans paroles (1874, poetry)
Sagesse (1881, poetry)
Jadis et naguère (1884, poetry)
Amour (1888, poetry)
Parallèlement (1889, poetry)
Bonheur (1891, poetry)


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