Project Gutenberg's The Poet Assassinated, by Guillaume Apollinaire

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Title: The Poet Assassinated

Author: Guillaume Apollinaire

Translator: Matthew Josephson

Release Date: November 23, 2019 [EBook #60771]

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by Laura Natal Rodrigues at Free Literature (Images
generously made available by Hathi Trust.)









André Rouveyre (May 1916)


There are men who cannot bring themselves to conform with the rest of human society, who cannot conceive of a secure and honorable career even at the hands of a tolerant age. They flee, they are eternally escaping from the fold by some particularly outrageous or suicidal action. Rimbaud having mastered the art of poetry in his twenties, deserted literature to lead caravans through the African desert. Apollinaire at almost as early an age had also mastered the traditional forms of his art, but with Rimbaud's example before him could not become "an explorer, a trapper, a robber, a hunter, a miner."

Possessed of great energy, curiosity, and disrespect, he was from the start thrown upon the side of those who flout authority, court disorder and embrace the glitter and profusion of an intensely mundane existence.

To regard the spectacle of modern life and to sense the cleavage with the past and with the art or humanities of the previous day, is to be "modern". For many the word is hateful; and yet Apollinaire set out deliberately to be modern: to revalue the contributions of the past in terms of the phenomenal changes which the twentieth century and the Great War had brought in.

The barbarous new age he courted, adopting much of its method, the character of its institutions and its cruel philosophy. Perhaps he has interpreted his age best in his own personality, that is to say his life, a large and daring conception in itself.

"Vain to be astonished at his continual feast-making," says his friend the painter, Rouveyre, "at the rash exploits he undertook, at the crown of thorns he inflicted upon himself... He was a prodigious creator and all of his literary and social games, were of the most brilliant and lavish character, far more so than their objects. Like God, who could make man out of nothing, Apollinaire made many, with the same poverty of material." (Souvenirs de mon Commerce—A. Rouveyre, Paris, 1919, Mercure de France.)

Apollinaire was born in Monte Carlo in 1880. It is still a delicate matter to approach the facts of his life, to some extent, because of his confusing boasts and pretensions. We do know that his mother was Mme de Kostrovitzka, a lady of Polish descent who lived in France, and that Apollinaire (i. e., Wilhelm de Kostrovitzki) was baptized in Rome on September 29, 1880.

He received an extensive and preciose education. He lived with his mother in a chateau outside of Paris, a huge mansion that had a billiard room, music parlors, salons, and animals of all kinds: monkeys, dogs, snakes, parrots, canaries. Apollinaire travelled much when he was quite young, chiefly in Germany, Italy and Eastern Europe; he lived and studied in the Rhineland. Then he came back to Paris, with "all the poems he had been collecting in a cigar-box."

A literary career in Paris, is perfectly conventional by now. You run after the editors of newspapers, and finally you are allowed to contribute "feuilletons" to them. Then the magazines, the publishers, and you have "arrived." Apollinaire became a journalist and lived for a time by the veriest pot-boiling, some of which included translations of Aretino, an edition of the Marquis de Sade, introductions to pornographical classics, and even a great bibliographical work, called, "The Inferno of the National Library." But he soon became notorious in Paris. He gathered a motley horde of writers, painters and types (i. e., idiots, or freaks), and paraded from the right bank to the left, from the Montmartre to Montparnasse. His associates are now the most distinguished names of France, Henri-Matisse, Picasso, Dérain, Braque, Rousseau (the old man whom he "discovered" near the fortifications of Paris), and André Salmon, Marie Laurencin, Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, "baron" Mollet, his secretary.

He was intensely conscious of the time-spirit. An original and rugged intellect, he disquieted those who were repelled by his lavish and heedless manner. For him the French literature of the Symbolist era, which de Gourmont still presided over, was dead, and he became, during that whole period from 1905 to the end of the Great War, the only living force in France. He predicted the sterile close of the literature of de Regnier and Paul Fort, "Prince of Poets" (!), heralding an age of boundless expansion and experiment, with new zones of experience, new forms, and a yet more complex and rich civilization.

Such ideas were in the air of Europe: there was Marinetti, in Italy: Cézanne had nearly brought his stupendous work to a close; and a group of painters, Picasso, Duchamps, Picabia, Braque, Dérain (the Cubists), launched their work upon a frightened world. The abstract investigations of the Cubists appealed to him powerfully. Apollinaire became their ringleader. His book, "The Cubist Painters," is an authoritative apology for this movement. But not content with this, he conceived little movements of his own, invented names for them, wrote up programs, and precipitated bad painters into careers. It was not all buffoonery. He may have placed silly, vacuous individuals at the head of the reviews he organized, "Les Soirées de Paris", Nord Sud (named after the new subway); but some of the best modern writing of the time, by Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, André Salmon, Paul Valéry, Apollinaire himself, and some extremely youthful poets who are now Dadaists, were included in them. His great charm in conversation, his uproarious wit, his complete shamelessness, made him idol of all who were drawn to him.

Alcools, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1913. It was the escape of a personality from the "eternal recurrence." The Symbolists had sought a kind of exalted, objective state; this false mysticism was accompanied by an attitude of fatigue, and preciose resignation. Even the language, in their hands had become crystallized, or static. Apollinaire's attitude was the complete reverse. A wonderfully happy man, his verse was lustier and sturdier. He had learned much from the reawakened interest in the "primitive" Italian painters. There was no false shading in his work. Every line was as direct as in a child's drawing. No one could use clichés or write of the most common diurnal experiences as freshly as he. His verse had also a certain heroic character, an air of prophecy.

It has always been the good fortune of France that Paris draws gifted strangers from other lands, who bring real gold to her. Apollinaire, a weird mixture of what Slavic and Latin strains, laid rough hands on the language. His aberrations are superb. He could never resist the foreigner's impulse toward jeux des mots; and none are quicker than the French themselves to accept and enjoy the new puns and double-entendres. For the French have gone farther, their language has been more pawed over and revivified through foreign usage than ours. Apollinaire's exoticisms were not bizarre; they had the air of being conceived in conversation.

In the summer of 1914, Apollinaire was in Deauville, surrounded by a cosmopolitan horde of Poles, Germans, Hungarians, Czechs and Russians when the Great War began. He embraced the superb irony of these events with the utmost ardour; his attitude was precisely that which Pascal epitomizes:

"Why do you wish to kill brother?"
"Do I not live on the other side of the river?"

He went into the artillery, and was stationed at Nîmes. He became Second Lieutenant Guillaume Apollinaire. There were dull months upon months in the barracks. There was also active fighting. He was three times wounded in the head, and trepanned. In the Fall of 1915, he lay in a hospital in Paris, recovering from a successful operation. It was at this time that he assembled the fragments of a novel over which he had been working for a period of years, The Poet Assassinated.

The poet, Croniamantal, is one of the few frankly epic figures of modern literature. Apollinaire had never really outlived the poet's age of twenty-five, and the preposterous life of his hero is drawn against the artistic and social foibles of his age. By no means mere satire in the 18th century sense. Apollinaire grows positively hilarious and intoxicated over his characters so that at times he is beside himself with sheer fun. Results: humor of extraordinary eloquence and sonority, and a form that is complete unrepresentative, with perpetual digressions and asides.

There have been so many tired men in France who wrote like flagellants. Flaubert made his waking hours a nightmare; Gautier was much too corseted; to Stendhal writing was a torturesome but resistless destiny; Villiers was a devout artisan; Mallarmé goaded himself into obscuracy and speechlessness.

We must go back to Stendhal to find such extreme opposition to naturalism. It is enemy of all that was Ibsen. Distortion or under-emphasis are employed to fantastic ends; when a puppet is uninteresting or wrung dry he is dismissed or killed. Here is the destructive side of it: Apollinaire runs all the risks, obeys no rules, and writes for fun.

In the following year he was dismissed from the army and pronounced unfit for anything but censorship service.

Discharged from the hospital, he bought himself the most immaculate officer's uniform, somewhat constricting for his already corpulent form and his double chin, and in a victoria rode up to the editorial offices of the Mercure de France. His manner was perfectly that of "a Marseillaise tenor in an opera comique." His friends were in an uproar over him. The art life of Paris, flared up again, under the guns. He broke loose again upon his maddest tours de forces. A great welcoming ball was given him, an orgy attended by a howling, cursing, fighting throng, in which men and women tore about like Chaplin in the films. There had never been such an outlandish and heterogeneous bazaar. Apollinaire was ravished at being the orchestra-leader of such disorders and follies. To stupefy them he gave a production of his preposterous play, Les Mammelles de Tiresias. From the point of view of "action," of living, these were his greatest moments. Even before the war, these carryings on had passed all boundaries and were a source of scandal all over the world. Apollinaire was the man of the day, for this desperate crowd. He made poets and painters. "He made men and women seem much madder than they really were." While they understood little his interior laughter, his rebellious imagination.

I have stressed Apollinaire's social adventures, regarding them as an aspect of his creative expression. Wholly absorbed in art, he was completely wanting in the false reverence and dignity which some affect. Believing in the new painting of Picasso, Braque, Dérain, he could as well hold a street demonstration, parading his friends as sandwich-men bearing cubist paintings.

In the last days of 1918 he was stricken with influenza and was taken off very quickly. All the fools and freaks stopped pirouetting.

Calligrammes, his book of war poems had just appeared, and it is agreed that his strongest and most singular expressions lie in these reactions to the war. All other artists were involuntarily baffled by their moral sentiments. Only Apollinaire, with his completely negative philosophy, his un-morality, his shame in all of the common virtues, could retort to this war with his gorgeous buffoonery and his ringing apostrophes. He seized the new meanings of the modern era, from the phallic zeppelins in the sky, the labels on his tobacco tins, the pages of newspapers, or the walls of old cities. If these things are unworthy, if the age is damnable, then Apollinaire is damned.

"Is there nothing new under the sun?" he asks. "Nothing—for the sun, perhaps. But for man, everything." He calls upon artists to be at least as forward as the mechanical genius of the time. The artist is to stop at nothing in his quest for novelty of form and material; to seize upon all the infinite possibilities afforded by the new instruments and opportunities, creating thereby the myths and fables of the future.


À René Dalize


The glory of Croniamantal is now universal. One hundred and twenty-three towns in seven countries on four continents dispute the honor of this notable hero's birth. I shall attempt, further on, to elucidate this important question.

All of these people have more or less modified the sonorous name of Croniamantal. The Arabs, the Turks and other races who read from right to left have never failed to pronounce it Latnamainorc, but the Turks call him, bizarrely enough, Pata, which signifies goose or genital organ. The Russians surname him Viperdoc, that is, born of a fart, the reason for this soubriquet will be seen later on. The Scandinavians, or at least, the Dalecarlians, call him at will, quoniam, in Latin, which means, because, but often serves to indicate the noble passages in popular accounts of the middle ages. It is to be noted that the Saxons and the Turks manifest with regard to Croniamantal, a similar sentiment, since they refer to him by an identical surname, whose origin, however, is still scarcely explained. It is believed that this is an euphemistic allusion to the fact stressed in the medical report of the Marseilles doctor, Ratiboul, on the death of Croniamantal. According to this official document, all the organs of Croniamantal were sound, and the lawyer-physician added in Latin, as did Napoleon's aide Major Henry: partes viriles exiguitatis insignis, sicut pueri.

For the rest, there are countries where the notion of the Croniamantalian virility has entirely disappeared. Thus, the negroes in Moriana call him Tsatsa or Dzadza or Rsoussour, all feminine names, for they have feminized Croniamantal as the Byzantines feminized Holy Friday in making it Saint Parascevia.[1]


Two leagues from Spa, on the road bordered by gnarled trees and bushes, Vierselin Tigoboth, an ambulant musician who was coming on foot from Liège, struck his flint to light his pipe. A woman's voice cried:

He lifted his head, and a wild laugh burst out: "Hahaba! Hohoho! Hihihi! thine eyelids are the color of Egyptian lentils! My name is Macarée. I want a tom-cat."

Vierselin Tigoboth perceived by the roadside a young woman, brunette and formed of nice curves. How charming she seemed in her short bicyclist's skirt! And holding her bicycle with one hand, while gathering sloes with the other, she ardently fixed her great golden eyes on the Flemish musician.

"Vs'estez one belle bâcelle," said Vierselin Tigoboth, smacking his tongue. "But, my God, if you eat all those sloes, you will have the colic tonight, I'm sure."

"I want a tom-cat," repeated Macarée and unclasping her bodice she showed Vierselin Tigoboth her breasts, sweet as the buttocks of the angels, and whose aureole was the tender color of the rose clouds of sunset.

"Oh! oh!" cried Vierselin Tigoboth, "As pretty as the pearls of Amblevia, give them to me. I shall gather a big bouquet of ferns for you and of irises, color of the moon."

Vierselin Tigoboth approached to seize this miraculous flesh which was being offered to him for nothing, like the holy bread at Mass; but then he restrained himself.

"You're a sweet lass, by God, you're nicer than the fair of Liège. You're a nicer little girl than Donnaye, than Tatenne, than Victoire, whose gallant I have been, and nicer than Rénier's daughters, whom old Rénier always has for sale. Mind you, if you want to be my love, 'ware o' the crablouse, by God."


They are the color of the moon
And round as the wheel of Fortune.


If you fear not to catch the louse
Then I should love to be your spouse.

And Vierselin Tigoboth approached, his lips full of kisses: "I love you! It is pooh! O beloved!"

Soon there were nothing but sighs, the songs of birds and of russet and horned little hares, like elves, fleet as the seven-league boots, passing by Vierselin Tigoboth and Macarée, prone under the power of love behind the plumtrees.

Then Macarée was off on the old contraption.

And sad unto death, Vierselin Tigoboth cursed the instrument of velocity which rolled away and vanished behind the terraced rotunda, at the same moment that the musician began to make water while humming a jingle...

André Dérain


Macarée soon became aware that she had conceived by Vierselin Tigoboth.

"How annoying!" she thought at first, "But medicine has made much progress lately. I shall get rid of it when I want. Ah! that Walloon! He will have toiled in vain. Can Macarée bring up the son of a vagabond? No, no, I condemn this embryo to death. I should never even preserve this foetus in alcohol. And thou, my belly, if thou knewest how much I love thee since knowing thy goodness. What, wouldst stoop to carry such baggage as thou findest along the road? O too innocent belly, thou art unworthy of my selfish soul.

"What shall I say, o belly? thou'rt cruel, thou partest children from their parents. No! I love thee no longer. Thou'rt naught but a full bag, at this moment, o my belly, smiling at the nombril, o elastic belly, downy, polished, convex, sorrowful, round, silky, which ennobles me. For thou makest noble, o my belly, more beautiful than the sunlight. Thou shalt ennoble also the child of the Flemish vagabond and thou art worthy of the loins of Jupiter. What a misfortune! a moment ago I was about to destroy a child of noble race, my child who already lives in my beloved belly."

She opened the door suddenly and cried:

"Madame Dehan! Mademoiselle Baba!"

There was a rattling of doors and bolts and then the proprietors of Macarée's lodging came running out.

"I am pregnant," cried Macarée, "I am pregnant!"

She was sitting up in bed, her legs spread apart. Her skin looked very delicate. Macarée was narrow at the waist and broad-hipped.

"Poor little one," said Madame Dehan, who had but one eye, no waistline, a moustache, and limped. "After confinement women are just like crushed snail-shells. After confinement women are simply prey to disease (look at me!) an egg-shell full of all sorts of rubbish, incantations and other witch-spells. Ah! Ah! You have done very well."

"All foolishness," said Macarée. "The duty of women is to have children, and I am sure that their health is generally improved thereby, both physically and morally."

"Where are you sick?" asked Mademoiselle Baba.

"Shut up! I say," exclaimed Madame Dehan. "Better go and look for my flask of Spa elixir and bring some little glasses."

Mademoiselle Baba brought the elixir. They drank of it.

"I feel better now," said Madame Dehan, "After so much emotion, I need to refresh myself."

She poured out another little glass of the elixir for herself, drank it and licked the last few drops up with her tongue.

"Think of it," she said finally, "think of it, Madame Macarée ... I swear by all that I hold sacred, Mademoiselle Baba can be my witness, this is the first time that such a thing has happened to one of my tenants. And how many I have had! My Lord! Louise Bernier, whom they nicknamed Wrinkle, because she was so skinny; Marcelle la Carabinière (the freshest thing you ever saw!); Josuette, who died of a sunstroke in Christiania, the sun wishing thus to have his revenge of Joshua; Lili de Mercœur, a grand name, mind you, (not hers of course) and then vile enough for a chic woman, as Mercœur put it: 'You must pronounce it Mercure,' screwing up her mouth like a chicken's hole. Well she got hers, all right, they filled her as full of mercury as a thermometer. She would ask me in the morning; What sort of weather do you think we'll have today?' But I would always answer: 'You ought to know better than I...' Never, never in the world would any of those have become enceinte in my house."

"Oh well, it isn't as bad as that," said Macarée, "I also never had it happen to me before. Give me some advice, but make it short."

At this moment she arose.

"Oh!" cried Madame Dehan, "what a well-shaped behind you have! how sweet! how white! what embonpoint! Baba, Madame Macarée is going to put on her dressing-gown. Serve coffee and bring the bilberry tart."

Macarée put on a chemise and then a dressing gown whose belt was made of a Scotch shawl.

Mademoiselle Baba came back; she brought a big platter with cups, a coffee pot, milk-pitcher, jar of honey, butter cakes and the bilberry tart.

"If you want some good advice," said Madame Dehan, wiping away with the back of her hand the coffee that dribbled down her chin, "You had better go and baptize your child."

"I shall make sure and do that," said Macarée.

"And I even think," said Mademoiselle Baba, "that it would be best to do it on the day he is born."

"In fact," Madam Dehan mumbled, her mouth full of food, "you can never tell what may happen. Then you will nurse him yourself, and if I were you, if I had money like you, I should try to go to Rome before the confinement and get the Pope to bless me. Your child will never know either the paternal caress or blow, he will never utter the sweet name of papa. May the blessing of the Holy Papa at least follow him all his life."

And Madame Dehan began to sob like a kettle boiling over, while Macarée burst into tears as abundant as a spouting whale. But what of Mademoiselle Baba? Her lips blue with berries, she wept so hard that from her throat the sobs flooded down to her hymen and nearly choked her.


After having won a great deal of money at baccarat, and already rich, thanks to Love, Macarée, whose corpulency nothing could conceal, came to Paris, where above all, she ran after the most fashionable modistes.

How chic she was, how chic she was!

* * *

One night when she went to the Théâtre Français a play with a moral was presented. In the first act, a young woman whom surgery had rendered sterile lamented the fatness of her husband who had the dropsy and was very jealous. The doctor went out saying:

"Only a great miracle and great devotion can save your husband."

In the second act, the young woman said to the young doctor:

"I offer myself up for my husband. I want to become dropsical in his stead."

"Let us love each other, Madame. And if you are not unfaithful to the principle of maternity your wish will be granted. And what sweet glory I shall have thereof!"

"Alas!" murmured the lady, "I no longer have any ovaries."

"Love," cried the doctor at this, "Love, madame, is capable of working the greatest miracles."

In the third act, the husband, thin as an I, and the lady, eight months gone, felicitated each other on the exchange they had made. The doctor communicated to the Academy of Medicine the results of his experiments in the fecundation of women become sterile as a result of surgical operations.

* * *

Toward the end of the third act, someone shouted "Fire!" in the hall. The frightened spectators rushed from the hall howling. In fleeing, Macarée possessed herself of the arm of the first man she encountered. He was well dressed and fair of feature, and as Macarée was charming, he seemed flattered that she had chosen him as her protector. They made each other's acquaintance at a café and from there went to sup in the Montmartre. But it appeared that François des Ygrées had negligently forgotten to take his purse with him. Macarée gladly paid the bill. And François des Ygrées pushed gallantry so far as not to allow Macarée to spend the night alone, the incident at the theatre having rendered her nervous.

* * *

François, baron des Ygrées (a doubtful baronetcy belonging to whoever claimed it) called himself the last offshoot of a noble house of Provence and pursued a career in heraldry on the sixth floor of an apartment in the rue Charles V.

"But," he said, "the revolutions and the demagogues have changed things so that arms are no longer studied except by ill-born archaeologists, and the nobility is no longer tutored in this art."

The baron des Ygrées, whose coat of arms was of azur à trois pairies d'argent posés en pal, was able to inspire enough sympathy in Macarée for her to want to take lessons in heraldry out of gratitude for that night at the Théâtre Français.

Macarée showed herself, it is true, little given to learning the terminology of heraldry, and one might even say that she did not interest herself seriously in anything but the arms of the Pignatelli who had furnished popes for the Church and whose coat-of-arms was adorned with kettles.

However, these lessons were wasted time to neither Macarée nor François des Ygrées, for they ended by marrying. Macarée brought as her dot, her money, her beauty and her fatness. François des Ygrées offered to Macarée a great name and his noble bearing.

Neither complained of the bargain and they found themselves very happy.

"Macarée, my dear wife," said François des Ygrées a few days after their marriage, "Why have you ordered so many robes? It seems to me that hardly a day passes without some modiste brings new costumes. They do, true enough, honor to your taste and to their skill."

Macarée hesitated for a moment and then replied:

"It is to our honeymoon that you refer, François!"

"Our honeymoon, yes, I have thought of it. But where do you want to go?"

"To Rome," said Macarée.

"To Rome, like the bells of Easter?"

"I want to see the Pope," said Macarée.

"Very fine, but what for?"

"That he may bless the child who lies under my heart," said Macarée.


"It will be your son," said Macarée.

"You are quite right, Macarée. We shall go to Rome like the bells of Easter. You will order a new robe of black velvet; and the dressmaker must not neglect to embroider our arms at the bottom of the skirt: of azur à trois pairies d'argent posés en pal."


Per carita, baroness, (I had almost called you Mademoiselle!) Ah! Ah! Ah! But the baron, your husband, he would protest. Ah! ah! quite true, you have a little belly which commences to become arrogant. They do their work well, I see, in France. Ah! if that fine country would only become religious again, the population decimated by anti-clericalism would at once, (yes, baroness) the population would increase considerably. Ah! dear Christ! how well she listens, the arrogantine, when one talks seriously, yes, baroness, you have the air of an arrogantine. Ah! ah! ah! so, you want to see the Pope. Ah! ah! ah! the benediction of a mere cardinal like me will not do. Ah! ah! tut-tut, I understand quite well. Ah! ah! I shall try to obtain an audience for you. Oh! no need to thank me, you can let my hand go. How well she kisses, the arrogantine, oh! Come here, again, I want you to carry away with you a little souvenir of me.

"There! a chain, with the medal of the holy house of Lorette. Let me put it about your neck... Now that you have the medal you must promise me never to part with it. There, there, there! Come here so that I can kiss you on the forehead. Come, come, can she be afraid of me, the little arrogantine? Done! Now tell me why you laugh?... Nothing! Well! Now, one bit of advice! When you go to the Vatican, I warn you not to use so much odour, I mean so much perfume. Goodbye, arrogantine. Come and see me again. My compliments to the baron."

* * *

It was thus, that, thanks to Cardinal Ricottino, who had been to Paris as nuncio, Macarée obtained an audience with the Pope.

She went to the Vatican dressed in her beautiful armorial robe. The baron des Ygrées, in full dress, accompanied her. He admired much the bearing of the royal guards, and the Swiss mercenaries, inclined to drunkenness and brawling, seemed fine devils to him. He found occasion to whisper into his wife's ear something about one of his ancestors who was a cardinal under Louis XIII...

* * *

The couple returned to the hotel deeply moved and almost prostrated by the benediction of the Pope. They undressed chastely, and in bed, they spoke for a long time about the pontiff, the whitened head of the old church, a pressed lily, the snow which Catholics think eternal.

"My dear wife," said François des Ygrées finally, "I esteem you to adoration, and I love the child whom the Pope has blessed with all my heart. May he come, the blessed infant, but I want him to be born in France."

"François," said Macarée, "I have never yet been to Monte-Carlo. Let us go there! I needn't lose our whole pile. We are not millionaires, but I am sure that we shall be lucky in Monte-Carlo."

"Damn! damn! damn!" swore François, "Macarée, you make me see red."

"Ho, there," cried Macarée, "you gave me a kick, you——"

"I note with pleasure, Macarée," said François des Ygrées waggishly, recovering his good humor, "that you do not forget that I am your husband."

"Come, then, li'l nobs, let's go to Monaco."

"Yes, but you must have your confinement in France, for Monaco is an independent state."

"Agreed," said Macarée.

On the morrow the baron des Ygrées and the baroness, all swollen by mosquito bites, took tickets at the station for Monaco. In the coach they laid charming plans.


The baron and the baroness des Ygrées in taking tickets for Monaco had thought to arrive at the station which is the fifth on the way from Italy to France and the second in the little principality of Monaco.

The name of Monaco is properly the Italian name of this principality, although it is widely used nowadays in French, the French terms Mourgues and Monéghe having fallen into desuetude.

However the Italians call Monaco, not only the principality which bears that name but also the capital of Bavaria which the French call Munich. The messenger accordingly gave the baron tickets for Monaco-Munich instead of Monaco-principality. Before the baron and the baroness had noticed their error they were already at the Swiss frontier, and after having recovered from their astonishment, they decided to finish the voyage to Munich in order to see at close hand all that the anti-artistic spirit of modern Germany could conceive of ugliness in architecture, sculpture, painting and the decorative arts...

* * *

The cold winds of March made the couple shiver in this stone-box Athens.

"Beer," the baron des Ygrées had said, "is excellent for women who are enceinte."

And so he led his wife to the royal brewery of Pschorr, to the Augustinerbräu, to the Münchnerkindl and other great breweries. They penetrated to the Nockerberg where there is a great garden. They drank there, as long as it held out, the famous March beer, Salvator, and it didn't last very long, for the Munich people are great drunkards.

* * *

When the baron and his wife entered the garden they found it thronged with a mob of drinkers, who were already under-the-weather and sang head to head and danced dizzily, breaking all the empty steins.

Peddlers sold roast fowl, grilled herrings, pretzels, rolls, sausages, sweets, souvenirs, post-cards. And there was also Hans Irlbeck, the King of Drinkers. Since Perkeo, the midget drunkard of the great cask of Heidelberg, no such boozer had ever been seen. At the time of the March beer, and in May, Bock-time, Hans Irlbeck drank his forty quarts of beer a day. Ordinarily he did not have occasion to drink more than twenty-five.

Just as the gracious Ygrées pair passed by, Hans placed his colossal buttocks on a bench which, bearing already the weight of some twenty huge men and women, cracked disconsolately. The drinkers fell, their legs in the air. Some bare thighs could be seen because Munich ladies never wear their stockings above their knees. Bursts of laughter everywhere. Hans Irlbeck who had also been floored, but had not let go of his stein, spilled its contents over the belly of a girl who had rolled near him, and the beer bubbling under her resembled that which she did when she got to her feet after swallowing a quart at one gulp in order to recover her composure.

But the proprietor of the garden cried:

"Donnerkeil! damned swine ... a bench broken."

And he started off with his towel under his arm, calling loudly for the waiters:

"Franz! Jacob! Ludwig! Martin!" while the patrons called for the proprietor:

"Ober! Ober!"

However the Oberkellner and the waiters did not come back. The drinkers crowded about the counters and took their steins themselves, but the kegs were no longer emptied, and no more were heard the sonorous blows of another cask being put under the hammer. The singing ceased, the drinkers, angered, proffered oaths at the brewers and at the March beer itself. Some profited by the lull to vomit with violent efforts, their eyes almost popping out of their heads; their neighbors encouraged them with imperturbable seriousness. Hans Irlbeck who had picked himself up, not without difficulty, grumbled with a great snort:

"There is no more beer in Munich!"

And he repeated, with the accent of his native city:

"Minchen! Minchen! Minchen!"

After raising his eyes toward heaven, he fell upon a vendor of fowls, and having ordered him to roast a goose for him, began to formulate his desires:

"No more beer in Munich... if there were only some white radishes!"

And he repeated many times the Munich expression:

"Raadi, raadi, raadi..."

Suddenly he stopped. The crowd of drinkers, beside themselves, gave a cry of exultation. The four waiters had just appeared at the door of the brewery. With dignity they were carrying a sort of canopy under which the Oberkellner marched proud and erect, like a negro king dethroned. Behind him came fresh kegs of beer which were put under the hammer at the sound of the bell, while shouts of laughter rang out, and cries and songs rose above this teeming butte, hard and agitated as the Adam's apple of Gambrinus himself, when, burlesqued in the costume of a monk, a white radish in one hand, he tossed off with the other the jug which rejoiced his gullet.

And the unborn child found himself right shaken by the laughter of Macarée who, greatly amused by the spectacle of this colossal gluttony, drank and drank in company with her spouse.

But then, the vivacity of the mother exerted a happy influence on the character of the offspring who acquired therefrom much common sense, before his birth, and some of the real common sense, of course, which great poets are made of.


Baron François des Ygrées left Munich when the baroness knew that the hour of delivery was approaching. Monsieur des Ygrées did not want to have a child born in Bavaria; he was sure that that country was overrun with syphilis.

They arrived in the springtime, in the little port of Napoule, which in an excellently turned verse the baron baptised for eternity:

Napoule of the golden skies.

It was there that the delivery of Macarée's child took place.

* * *

"Ah! Ah! Aie! Aie! Aie! Ouh! Ouh! Whee-ee-ee!"

The three local midwives took to improvising pleasantly:


I dream of war.

O my friends, the stars, the bright stars, have you ever counted them?

O my friends, do you even remember the titles of all the books you have read and the names of their authors?

O my friends, have you ever thought of the poor men who tread the broad highways?

The herdsmen of the golden age led their herds to pasture without fear that the cattle would flee, they feared only the jungle beasts.

O my friends, what do you think of all these cannons?


What do I think of these cannons? They are vigorous phalli.

O my beautiful nights! I am happy because of a sinister horn which enchanted me last night, 'tis a good augury. My hair is perfumed with abelmosch.

O! the beautiful and rigid phalli that these cannons are! If women had to do military service they would all go into the artillery. The sight of the cannons in battle would be strange for them.

Lights are born on the sea far off.

Reply, o Zelotide, reply with thy sweet voice.


I love his eyes at night, he knows my hair well and its odour. In the streets of Marseilles an officer pursued me for a long time. He was well dressed and of fair colour, there was gold on his costume and his mouth tempted me, but I fled his kisses and took refuge in my "bedroom" of the "family-house" where I was stopping.[2]


O Zelotide, spare the sad men as thou sparest this beau. Zelotide what thinkest thou of the cannons.


Alas! Alas! I want to be loved.


They are the tools of the ignoble love of the people. O Sodom! Sodom. O sterile love!


But we are women, why dost thou speak of Sodom?


The fire of heaven devoured her.


When you have finished your monkey-tricks, if it please you, will you not forget to give a little attention to the baroness des Ygrées.

* * *

The baron slept in a corner of the room on several travelling blankets. He made a fart which caused his better half to laugh until the tears came. Macarée wept, cried, laughed and a few moments later brought into the world a sturdy child of the male sex. Then, exhausted by these efforts, she rendered up her soul, with a scream that was like the ululation of the eternal first wife of Adam, when she crossed the Red Sea.

In reporting the above, I believe that I have elucidated the important question of the birthplace of Croniamantal. Let the 123 towns in 7 countries dispute the honor of his birth.[3]

We know now, and the state records bear testimony that he was born of the paternal fart at Napoule of the golden skies, on the 25th of August, 1889, but not announced at the mayoralty until the following morning.[4]

It was the year of the Universal Exposition, and the Eiffel Tower, which was just born, saluted the heroic birth of Croniamantal with a beautiful erection.

The baron des Ygrées made another fart which woke him by the macabre bed where the corpse of Macarée reclined. The child cried, the midwives croaked, the father sobbed, and declaimed:

"Ah, Napoule with the golden skies, I have killed my hen with the golden eyes!"

Then he bathed the new-born calling him by a name which he invented forthwith and which did not belong to any saint in Paradise: CRONIAMANTAL. He left on the following day, having arranged for the funeral of his spouse, written the necessary letters assuring his inheritance, and announced the child under the names of Gaëtan—Francis—Etienne—Jack—Amélie—Alonso des Ygrées. And with this nursling whose putative father he was, he took the train for the Principality of Monaco.[5]


A widower, François des Ygrées established himself near the principality; on the grounds of Roquebrune; he took pension with a family, which included a pretty brunette called Mia. There he reared the bearer of his own name with the baby-bottle.

Often he would go out at dawn for a walk at the sea shore. The road was fringed with amaryllis which he would always compare involuntarily with packages of dried cod. Sometimes, because of the contrary winds, he would turn to light an Egyptian cigarette whose smoke rose in spirals like the bluish mountains emerging far off in Italy.

* * *

The family in whose bosom he had installed himself was composed of the father, the mother and Mia. M. Cecchi, a Corsican, was a croupier at the casino. He had previously been croupier at Baden-Baden and had married a German woman there. Of this union Mia was born; her carnation tint and black hair bespoke her Corsican blood. She was always dressed in buoyant colors. Her walk was balanced, her figure arched; she was smaller at the breast than at the buttocks, and a touch of strabism lent her dark eyes a somewhat distraught look, which only rendered her more tempting.

Her speech was lazy, soft, guttural, but pleasant nevertheless. It was the accent of the Monegascans whose syntax Mia followed. After having seen the young girl gather roses, François des Ygrées began to take notice of her and was much amused by her syntax for whose rules he enjoyed making research... First of all, he noticed the italianisms in her vocabulary, and especially the habit of conjugating the verb "to be" with the wrong auxiliary. For example, Mia would say: "Je suis étée," instead of "J'ai été." He also noted her bizarre way of repeating the verb in her principal clause: "I was at the Moulins, while you went to Menton, I was;" or better: "This year I am going to the gingerbread fair at Nice, I am."

One time before sunrise, François des Ygrées went down to the garden. He abandoned himself to sweet reveries, during which he caught cold. All of a sudden he began to sneeze about twenty times in succession.

Sneezing aroused him. He saw that the sky had whitened and the horizon cleared with the first light of dawn. Then the first shafts of sunlight enflamed the sky along the Italian coast. Before him spread the still sorrowful sea, and on the horizon, like little clouds above the film of sea, could be seen the curving peaks of Corsica, which always disappeared after the rising of the sun. The baron des Ygrées shivered, then he yawned and stretched himself. He kept on regarding the sea to the east where one might have said there glittered a royal navy in sight of a seaport with white houses, Bodighère, which furnished palms for the festivities of the Vatican. He turned toward the immobile guardian of the garden, a great cypress, begirt with a full-blown rose bush which clambered up almost to its top. François des Ygrées breathed of the sumptuous roses of nonpareil fragrance whose petals, as yet closed, were of flesh.

And just then Mia called him to have his breakfast.

With her braid hanging down her back, she had just come to pick some figs and she was letting a few creamy drops flow into a pitcher of milk. She smiled at François des Ygrées, saying:

"Have you slept well?"

"No, there are too many mosquitoes."

"Don't you know that when you are stung you should rub the place with lemon and in order not to be stung by them you should put vaseline on your face before going to sleep. They never bite me."

"That would be too bad. For you are very pretty, and ought to be told so oftener."

"There are those who tell me so and others who think so without telling. Those who tell it to me make me neither hot nor cold, as for the others, so much the worse for them..."

And François des Ygrées conceived at once a little fable for the timid:


An oyster dwelt, beautiful and wise, on a rock. She never dreamed of love but during fine weather simply bayed beatifically at the sun. A herring saw her and it was as a spark of powder. He tumbled hopelessly in love with her without daring to avow it.

One summer day, happy and coy, the oyster yawned. Smuggled behind a rock the herring looked on, but all at once the desire to imprint a kiss upon his beloved became so overpowering that he could no longer restrain himself.

And so he threw himself between the open shells of the oyster who in her surprise shut them with a snap, decapitating the wretched herring, whose headless body floats aimlessly upon the ocean.

"'Twas so much the worse for the herring," said Mia laughing, "He was much too foolish. I too want people to tell me that I am pretty, not for fun, but so as we can marry..."

And François des Ygrées noted for future consideration her curious peculiarities of syntax: "so as we can marry." ...And he thought further: "She doesn't love me. Macarée dead. Mia indifferent. Alas I am unhappy in love."

* * *

One day he found himself in the valley of Gaumates on a little knoll covered with skinny little pines. The shore trimmed by the white-blue of the waves stretched far out before him. The Casino emerged from the bank of splendid trees in its gardens. This palace looked like a man squatting and lifting his arms toward heaven. Near it, François des Ygrées hearkened to an invisible Mammon:

"Regard this palace, François, it is made in the image of man. It is sociable like him. It loves those who come to it and especially, those who are unhappy in love. Go there and thou wilt win, for thou canst not lose in play, since thou hast lost all in love."

Since it was six o'clock, the angelus tinkled from the different churches in the neighborhood. The voice of the bells prevailed against the voice of the invisible Mammon, who became silent, while François des Ygrées searched for him.

* * *

On the next day, François took the road to the temple of Mammon. It was Palm Sunday. The streets were littered with children, young girls and women carrying palms and olive-branches. The palms were either very simple or woven in a peculiar fashion. At each corner of the street, the weavers of palms were sitting against the wall, working. Under their deft hands the palm fibers bent, circled bizarrely and charmingly. The children were playing about already with hard eggs. On a square a troop of urchins were pummelling a red-headed kid whom they had found trying to consume a marble egg. Very small girls were going to mass, well dressed and carrying like candles the woven palms in which their mothers had hung sweet-meats.

François des Ygrées thought:

"The sight of these palms brings good luck and today, which is gay Easter, I shall break the bank."

* * *

In the game hall, he regarded at first the diverse throng which pressed about the tables...

François des Ygrées approached a table and played. He lost. The invisible Mammon had come back and spoke sharply each time they erased a deal:

"Thou hast lost!"

And François saw the crowd no more, his head was turning, he placed louis, packages of bills, on one square, diagonally, transversally. He played a long time losing as much as he wanted to.

He turned away at last and saw the whole brilliant hall where the players still pressed about the tables as before. Noticing a young man whose chagrined face revealed that he had had no luck, François smiled at him and asked whether he had lost.

The young man replied angrily:

"You too? A Russian just won more than two hundred thousand francs by my side. Ah! if I only had a hundred francs more, I would make up what I have lost twenty or thirty times over. But Oh, I have beastly luck, I am hoodooed, done for. Imagine..."

And taking François by the arm, he led him toward a divan on which they sat down.

"Imagine," he continued, "I have lost everything. I am almost a thief. The money I have lost did not belong to me. I am not rich, I had a position of trust. My employer sent me to recover claims in Marseilles. I got them. I took the train to come here and try my luck. I lost. What is there left? They will arrest me. They will say that I am a dishonest man, even though I haven't ever profited of the money I took. I have lost all. If I had won, no one would have reproached me. What luck I have! There is nothing for me to do but to kill myself."

And suddenly rising the young man put a revolver to his mouth and fired. The corpse was carried away. Several players turned their heads a moment, but none of them bothered at all, and most of them took no notice of the incident which, however, made a profound impression on the mind of the baron des Ygrées. He had lost all that Macarée had left him and the child. As he went out François felt the whole universe contract about him like a tiny cell, and then like a coffin. He got back to the villa where he lived. At the door he passed Mia who was chatting with a stranger who carried a valise.

"I am a Hollander," said the man, "but I live in Provence and I would like to hire a room for several days; I have come here to make some mathematical observations."

At this moment the baron des Ygrées sent a kiss with his left hand to Mia, while with a revolver in his right he blew his brains out and rolled in the dust.

"We have only one room to rent," said Mia, "but it has just become free."

And she quickly closed the eyelids of the baron des Ygrées, gave cries of grief, and aroused the neighborhood.

* * *

As to the young child, whom his father had in such a characteristic burst of lyricism named for aye Croniamantal, he was gathered up by the Dutch traveller who soon carried him off to bring him up as his own son.

On the day they left, Mia sold her virginity to a millionaire trap-shooting-champion, and it was the thirty-fifth time that she had lent herself to this little commercial transaction.

André Dérain


The Dutchman, named Janssen, led Croniamantal to the region of Aix, where there was a house which the people of the neighborhood called le Chateau. Le Chateau had nothing lordly about it other than its name and was nothing but a vast domicile having a dairy and a stable.

Mr. Janssen possessed a modest income and lived alone in this dwelling which he had bought in order to live in solitude, a suddenly broken off betrothal having rendered him rather hypochondriac. He devoted all his energies now to the education of the son of Macarée and Vierselin Tigoboth: Croniamantal, heir of the old name of des Ygrées.

The Dutchman, Janssen, had travelled much. He spoke all the languages of Europe, Arabian, and Turkish, not to mention Hebrew and other dead languages. His speech was as clear as his blue eyes. He soon made the friendship of several scholars of Aix whom he would visit from time to time and he corresponded with many foreign scientists.

When Croniamantal was six years of age, Mr. Janssen would often take him to the country. Croniamantal came to love these lessons along the paths of wooded hills. Mr. Janssen would often stop and show Croniamantal the birds hopping about or butterflies pursuing each other and fluttering together among the wild rose-bushes. He would say that love reigned over all of Nature. They would also go out on moonlit nights and the master would explain to his pupil the hidden destinies of the heavenly bodies, their regular course, and their effects upon the life of man.

Croniamantal never forgot how one moonlit night his master led him to a field at the edge of a forest; the grass bubbled with milky light. Fireflies fluttered around them; their phosphorescent and jagged lights gave the site a strange aspect. The master called the attention of his disciple to the sweetness of this May night.

"Learn," he said, "learn to know all of Nature and to love her. Let her be your veritable nurse, whose salutary mammals are the moon and the hills."

Croniamantal was thirteen years of age at this time and his mind was quite ripe. He listened attentively to Mr. Janssen's words.

"I have always lived in her, but I must say, lived badly, for one should not live without human love as companion. Do not forget that all is a sign of love in Nature. I, alas! am damned for not having observed this law whose demands nothing can withstand."

"What," said Croniamantal, "you, my teacher, who know so many sciences did not recognize this law which every country lout and even the animals, the vegetables, and inert matter observe?"

"Happy child who at your age can put such questions!" said Mr. Janssen. "I have always known that law, from which no human being should rebel. But there are some luckless men destined never to know the joys of love. That often happens to poets and scientists. Their souls are vagabond; I am always conscious of existences preceding my own. This knowledge has never stirred any but the sterile bodies of scientists. (You should not be astonished in the least at what I say.) Whole races respect animals and proclaim the principle of metempsychosis, a most worthy belief, self-evident but fantastical, since it takes no account of lost forms and of their inevitable dispersion. Their worship should have extended to the vegetable kingdom and to minerals. For what is the dust of roads but the ashes of the dead? It is true that the Ancients did not concede life to inert matter. But rabbis believed that the same soul inhabited the body of Adam, Moses and David. In fact, the name, Adam, is composed in Hebrew of the letters Aleph, Daleth and Mem, the first letters of the three names. Your soul like mine, inhabited other human forms, other animals, or was dispersed and will continue so after your death, since all things must serve again. For perhaps there is nothing new any more, and creation has ceased, perhaps... I affirm that I have not desired love, but I swear that I would not begin such a life over again. I have mortified my flesh and suffered severe punishment. I should like your life to be happy."

Croniamantal's master made him devote most of his time to the sciences, keeping him au courant with all recent inventions. He also instructed the boy in Latin and Greek. They often read the Eclogues of Virgil or translated Theocritus in an olive grove. Croniamantal had learned a very pure French, but his master taught him in Latin. He also taught him Italian, and at an early age Croniamantal received the poems of Petrarch, who became one of his favorite poets. Mr. Janssen also taught Croniamantal English, and made him familiar with Shakespeare. Above all he gave the boy a taste for old French authors. Among the French poets he admired chiefly Villon, Ronsard and his pléiade, Racine and La Fontaine. He also made him read translations of Cervantes and of Goethe. On his advice, Croniamantal read the romances of chivalry which might have made part of the library of Don Quixote. They developed in Croniamantal an unquenchable thirst for experiment and perilous love adventures; he devoted himself to fencing and to horseback riding; at the age of fifteen he declared to anyone who came to visit them that he had decided to become a celebrated and peerless cavalier, and already he dreamed of a mistress.

Croniamantal was, at this time, a handsome youth, thin and straight. The girls at the village fêtes, when he touched them lightly, would stifle little bursts of laughter and redden, lowering their eyes under his regard. Habituated to poetic forms, his mind thought of love as a conquest. Thoughts of Boccacio, his natural daring, his education, everything disposed him to take the final step.

One May day, he went out for a long ride. It was morning, everything was still fresh. The dew hung from the flowers of the hedges, and on either side of the road stretched the fields of olive trees whose gray leaves trembled gently in the sea breeze and compared agreeably with the blue sky. He arrived at a place where the road was being mended. The road menders, handsome boys in bright colored caps, worked lazily, singing the while, and stopping occasionally to drink from their flasks. Croniamantal thought that these handsome fellows had sweethearts. It is thus that they call a lover in that country. The boys say "my sweetheart," the girls, "my sweetheart," and in fact they are both sweet in that lovely country. Croniamantal's heart leaped and his whole being, exalted by the springtime and the riding, cried for love.

At a turn in the road, an apparition increased his trouble. He arrived close to a little bridge thrown across a river which cut the road. The place was isolated, and across the hedges and the trunks of poplars, he saw two beautiful girls bathing, quite naked. One was in the water and held herself up by a branch. He admired her brown arms and abundant beauties, hardly concealed by the water. The other, standing on the bank, dried herself after her bath and exposed ravishing lines and graces which inflamed the heart of Croniamantal; he decided to join them and mingle in their pleasures. Unluckily, he perceived in the branches of a neighboring tree two youths spying on this prey. Holding their breath and watching the least movements of the bathers, they did not see the equestrian, who, laughing uproariously, threw his horse into a gallop and cried aloud as he crossed the little bridge.

The sun had risen almost to its zenith and was now darting its dreadful rays. An ardent thirst added itself to the amorous inquietudes of Croniamantal. The sight of a farm along the road brought him unspeakable joy. He arrived at a little orchard whose blossoming trees made a lovely sight. It was a little wood, rose and white with the cherry and peach blossoms. On the fence linen was drying and he had the pleasure of seeing a charming peasant girl of about sixteen, at work washing clothes in a vat in the shadow of a fig-tree that had just begun to bloom. Not having noticed his arrival, she continued to accomplish her domestic function which he found noble; for, his imagination full of memories of antiquity, he compared her to Nausica. Descending from his horse he approached and contemplated the young girl with ravishment. He looked at her back. Her folded up skirt discovered a well made leg in a very white stocking. Her body moved in a manner that was pleasantly exciting because of the efforts occasioned by the soaping. Her sleeves were rolled up and he observed her pretty brown plump arms, which enchanted him.

I have always loved beautiful arms particularly. There are people who attach great importance to the perfection of the foot. I admit that they touch me too, but the arm is to my mind that which should be most perfect in woman. It is always in motion, one always has one's eye upon it. One might say that it is the veritable organ of the graces, and that by its deft movements, it is the veritable arm of Love, since when curved, this delicate arm resembles a bow, and when extended, the arrow thereof.

This was also Croniamantal's point of view. He was thinking of this, when his horse, who suddenly remembered that it was the habitual hour for being fed, began to whinny. At once the young girl turned and showed surprise at seeing a stranger regarding her from above the fence. She blushed and only seemed the more charming. Her dusky skin attested to the Moorish blood that flowed in her veins. Croniamantal asked her for food and drink. With much good grace this sweet girl did have him enter the house and served him a rude repast. With some milk, eggs, and black bread, his thirst and his hunger were soon sated. In the meantime, he questioned his young hostess, in the hope of finding an opportunity for paying her gallant compliments. He learned that her name was Mariette, and that her parents had gone to the neighboring town to sell vegetables; her brother was working on the road. This family lived happily on the products of the orchard and the barnyard.

At this moment, her parents, fine looking peasants, returned, and there was Croniamantal already in love with Mariette, quite disappointed. He paid the mother for the meal, and went off, after having given Mariette a long look which she did not return, but he had the satisfaction of seeing her blush as she turned away.

He mounted his horse and took the road to his house. Being for the first time in his life, sad for love, he found extreme melancholy in this same countryside which he had previously traversed. The sun had dropped low over the horizon. The grey leaves of the olive trees seemed as sad as himself. The shadows stretched out like waves. The river where he had seen the bathers was abandoned. The lapping of the water became unbearable for him, like a mockery. He threw his horse into a gallop. Then there was the dusk, lights appearing in the distance. Then night came; he slowed up his horse and abandoned himself to a disordered revelry. The sloping road was bordered with cypresses, and it was thus, somnolent with the night and with love, that Croniamantal pursued his melancholy way.

* * *

His master soon noticed in the days that followed that he gave no more attention to the studies to which he had been wont to apply himself with such diligence. He divined that this disgust came of love.

His respect was mingled with a little scorn because Mariette was nothing but a simple peasant girl.

The end of September had been reached, and one day Mr. Janssen led Croniamantal out under the laden olive trees in the orchard and censured his disciple for his passion, the latter hearkening to his reproaches with ruddy embarrassment. The first winds of autumn complained in the fields and Croniamantal, very sad and much ashamed, lost forever his desire to see again the pretty Mariette and kept nothing but the memory of her.

* * *

And so Croniamantal attained his majority.

A disease of the heart which was discovered in him led to his dismissal by the military authorities. Soon after, his guardian died suddenly, leaving him by will the little which he possessed. And after having sold the house called le Chateau, Croniamantal went to Paris to give himself freely to his taste for literature; he had been for some time past composing poems secretly and accumulating them in an old cigar-box.


In the early days of the year 1911, a young man who was very badly dressed went running up the rue Houdon. His extremely mobile countenance seemed to be filled with joy and anxiety by turns. His eyes devoured all that they saw and when his eyelids snapped shut quickly like jaws, they gulped in the universe, which renewed itself incessantly by the mere operation of him who ran. He imagined to the tiniest details the enormous worlds pastured in himself. The clamour and the thunder of Paris burst from afar and about the young man, who stopped, and panted like some criminal who has been too long pursued and is ready to surrender himself. This clamour, this noise indicated clearly that his enemies were about to track him like a thief. His mouth and his gaze expressed the ruse he was employing, and walking slowly now, he took refuge in his memory, and went forward, while all the forces of his destiny and of his consciousness retarded the time when the truth should appear of that which is, that which was, and of that which is to be.

The young man entered a one story house. On the open door was a placard:

Entrance to the Studios

He followed a corridor where it was so dark and so cold that he had the feeling of having died, and with all his will, clenching his fists and gritting his teeth he began to take eternity to bits. Then suddenly he was conscious again of the motion of time whose seconds, hammered by a clock, fell like pieces of broken glass, while life flowed in him again with the renewed passage of time. But as he stopped to rap at a door, his heart beat more strongly again, for fear of finding no one home.

He rapped at the door and cried:

"It is I, Croniamantal!"

And behind the door the heavy steps of a man who seemed tired, or carried too weighty a burden, came slowly, and as the door opened there took place in the sudden light the creation of two beings and their instant marriage.

In the studio, which looked like a barn, an innumerable herd flowed in dispersion: they were the sleeping pictures, and the herdsman who tended them smiled at his friend. Upon a carpenter's table piles of yellow books could be likened to mounds of butter. And pushing back the ill-joined door, the wind brought in unknown beings who complained with little cries in the name of all the sorrows. All the wolves of distress howled behind the door ready to devour the flock, the herdsman and his friend, in order to prepare in their place the foundations for the NEW CITY. But in the studio there were joys of all colours. A great window opened the whole north side and nothing could be seen but the whole blue sky, the song of a woman. Croniamantal took off his coat which fell to the floor like the corpse of a drowned man, and sitting on the divan he gazed for a long time at the new canvas placed on the support. Dressed in a blue wrap, barefooted, the painter also regarded the picture in which two women remembered themselves in a glacial mist.

The studio contained another fatal object, a large piece of broken mirror hooked to the wall. It was a dead and soundless sea, standing on end, and at the bottom of which a false life animated what did not exist. Thus, confronting Art, there is the appearance of Art, against which men are not sufficiently on their guard, and which pulls them to earth when Art has raised them to the heights. Croniamantal bent over in a sitting posture, leaned his fore-arms on his knees, and turned his eyes from the painting to a placard thrown on the floor on which was painted the following announcement:

I AM AT THE BAR—The Bird of Benin

He read and re-read this sentence while the Bird of Benin contemplated his picture, approaching it and withdrawing from it, his head at all angles. Finally he turned towards Croniamantal and said:

"I saw the woman for you last night."

"Who is she?" asked Croniamantal.

"I do not know, I saw her but I do not know her. She is a really young girl, as you like them. She has the sombre and child-like face of those who are destined to cause suffering. And despite all the grace of her hands that straighten in order to repel, she lacks that nobility which poets could not love because it would prevent their being miserable. I have seen the woman for you, I tell you. She is both beauty and ugliness; she is like everything that we love nowadays. And she must have the taste of the laurel leaf."

But Croniamantal, who was not listening to him, interrupted at this point to say:

"Yesterday I wrote my last poem in regular verses:



and my last poem in irregular verses (take care that in the second stanza the word wench is taken in its less reputable meaning):


Why did Hjalmar return
The tankard of beaten silver lay void,
The stars of the evening
Became the stars of the morning
The sorceress of the forest of Hruloë
Prepared her repast
She was an eater of horse-flesh
But he was not
Mai Mai ramaho nia nia.

Then the stars of the morning
Became again the stars of the evening
And reciprocally
They cried—In the name of Maröe
Wench of Arnamoer
And of his favorite zoöphyte
Prepare the drink of the gods
—Certainly noble warrior
Mai Mai ramaho nia nia.

She took the sun
And plunged him into the sea
As housewives
Dip a ham in gravy
But alas! the salmons voracious
Have devoured the drowned sun
And have made themselves wigs
With his beams
Mai Mai ramaho nia nia.

She took the moon and did her all with bands
As they do with the illustrious dead
And with little children
And then in the light of the only stars
The eternal ones
She made a concoction of sea-brine
The euphorbiaceans of Norwegian resin
And the mucous of Alfes
To make a drink for the gods
Mai Mai ramaho nia nia.

He died like the sun
And the sorceress perched at the top of a fir pine
Heard until evening
The rumours of the great winds engulfed in the phial
And the lying scaldas swear to this
Mai Mai ramaho nia nia.

Croniamantal was silent for an instant and then added:

"I shall from now on write only poetry free from all restrictions even that of language.[7]

"Listen, old man!"

A. Z.
Telephone: 33-122 Pan : Pan

"Your last line, my poor Croniamantal," said the Bird of Benin, "is a simple plagiarism from"

"That is not true," said Croniamantal. "But I shall compose no more pure poetry. That is what I have come to, through your fault. I want to write plays."

"You had better go to see the young woman of whom I spoke to you. She knows you and seems to be crazy about you. You will find her in the Meudon woods next Thursday at a place that I shall designate. You will recognize her by the skipping rope that she will hold in her hand. Her name is Tristouse Ballerinette."

"Very well," said Croniamantal, "I shall go to see Ballerinette and shall sleep with her, but above all I want to go to the theatres to offer my play, Ieximal Jelimite, which I wrote in your studio last year while eating lemons."

"Do what you want, my friend," said the Bird of Benin, "but do not forget Tristouse Ballerinette, the woman of your future."

"Well said," said Croniamantal. "But I want to roar to you once more the plot of Ieximal Jelimite. Listen:

"A man buys a newspaper on the seashore. From the garden of a house at one side emerges a soldier whose hands are electric bulbs. A giant 10 feet tall descends from a tree. He shakes the newspaper vendor, who is of plaster and who in falling breaks to bits. At this moment a judge arrives. With strokes of a razor he kills everybody, while a leg which passes hopping crushes the judge with a kick in the nose, and sings a pretty little song."

"How wonderful!" said the Bird of Benin. "I shall paint the decoration, you have promised me that."

"That goes without saying," answered Croniamantal.[8]


On the following day Croniamantal went to The Theatre, which was meeting at Monsieur Pingu's, the financier. Croniamantal succeeded in gaining entry by bribing the doorman and the butler. He entered boldly the hall where The Theatre, its satellites, its stool-pigeons and its hired thugs were gathered.


Ladies and Gentlemen of THE THEATRE, I have come to read you my play entitled Ieximal Jelimite.


Good gracious, wait a minute, young man, until you have been informed about our methods of procedure. You are here in the midst of our actors, our authors, our critics and our spectators. Listen attentively and don't even speak.


Gentlemen, I thank you for the cordial reception that you give me and I shall profit, I am sure, of all that I hear.


My rôles have slowly withered like the roses
But mother, I love my metempsychoses
O seats of proteus and their metamorphoses


Do you remember, Madame! One snowy night of 1832, a lost stranger knocked at the door of a villa situated on the road leading from Chanteboun to Sorrento...


Nowadays, for a play to be successful it is important that it should not be signed by its author.


Roll about in the sweet peas
Play dead... suckle...
Dance the polka... now the mazurka...


Juice o' the grape
Ruddy liquor
Let us drink drink
If we may


Horde of gluttons
There's no more
A crumb left
In the plate


Bloated heads
Drink o drink
The juice o' the grape

(To the spectators)
Pay! Pay! Pay! Pay! Pay! Pay! Pay!


The theatre, my dear brothers, is a school for scandal, it is a place of perdition for the soul and the body. According to the testimony of the stage carpenters everything is faked in the theatre. Witches older than Morgane come there to pose as little girls of fifteen years.

How much blood is spilt in a melodrama! I say truthfully, though it be false, this blood will be upon the heads of the children of the authors, the actors, the directors, and the spectators, unto the seventh generation. Ne mater suam, the little girls used to say to their mothers. Nowadays they ask: "Are we going to the theatre tonight?"

I tell you frankly my friends. There are few shows which do not endanger the soul. Outside of the spectacle of nature I know of nothing that one may witness without fear. This last spectacle is Gallic and healthy, my dear friends. The sound dilates the glands, chases Satan from the stinking shades where he lies and thus the Fathers come in from the desert to exorcise themselves.


Are you p..., Charlotte?


No, mama, I am roasting.


We have with us today the entrails of a mother!


My friend, you do not look very confident today. I am going to explain the meaning of several words from the theatrical vocabulary. Listen attentively and remember them if you can.

Acheron (ch hard)—A river of Hades, not of hell.

Artists (two types)—Is never used except in speaking of a comedian or a comedienne.

Brother—Avoid using this substantive together with "little." The adjective "young" is more proper.

NOTA BENE—This phrase does not apply to operettas.

"High Life"—This very French expression is translated in English as "fashionable people."

Liaisons—They are always dangerous in the theatre.

Papa—Two negatives are equal to an affirmative.

Cooked Potatoes—(never used in the singular)—A crudity that is deleterious to the stomach.

Tut-tut—This worn expression...

Would you like to have some titles for plays also? They are very important in order to succeed. Here are some sure ones:

THE CONTOUR; The Circumference; THE CONDOR; Hurry up Harry; THE TOWER; Louise, your shirt is coming out; STEP ALONG; The Mysterious Bar; HUNDREDTH TO THE RIGHT; The Magician; THE GUELF; I am going to kill you; MY PRINCE; The Artichoke; THE SCHOOL FOR LAWYERS; The Torch-bearer!

Good-bye, sir, don't thank me.


Gentlemen, I have come to give you a report of the triumph, last night. Are you ready? I begin:


A play in three acts by Messrs. Julien Tandis, Jean de la Fente, Prosper Mordus and Mmes Nathalie de l'Angoumois, Jane Fontaine and the countess M. Des Etangs, etc. Sets by Messrs. Alfred Mone, Leon Minie, Al. de Lemere. Costumes by Jeanette, hats by Wilhelmine, properties by the MacTead Company, phonographs by Hernstein and Company, sanitary napkins by Van Feuler Brothers.

I recall the captive who dared to p... before Sesostris. I never saw a more poignant scene than this from the play of Messrs, and Mmes etc. I must speak of the scene which made such a great hit at the opening night and in which the financier Prominoff bursts into a fit of rage against the coroner.

The play, which was very good, otherwise, did not accomplish all that was expected of it. The courtesan wife who feathers her nest out of the green old age of a vulgar brewer, remains, however, an unforgettable and touching figure which leaves in the shadow that of Cleopatra and Mme de Pompadour. M. Layol is an excellent comedian. He acted the father of a family in every sense of the expression. Mlle Jeannine Letrou, a young star of tomorrow, has very pretty legs. But the real revelation was Mme Perdreau whose sensitive nature we know so well. She acted the scene of the reconciliation with the most perfect naturalism. In short a great evening and prospects for a hundred night run.[9]


Young man we are going to give some subjects for plays. If they were signed by famous names we would play them, but they are masterpieces by unknowns which were given to us and which we are generously turning over to you because of your nice face.

PLAY WITH A THESIS—The prince of San Meco finds a louse on his wife's head and makes a scene. The princess has not slept with the viscount of Dendelope for the past six months. The couple make a scene before the viscount, who, not having slept with anyone but the princess and Mme Lafoulue, wife of a Secretary of State, causes the ministry to fall and overwhelms Mme Lafoulue with his scorn.

Mme Lafoulue makes a scene with her husband. Everything becomes clear, however, when Monsieur Bibier, the Deputy, arrives. He scratches his head. He is stripped. He accuses his electors of being lousy. Finally everything is in order once more. Title: Parliamentarism.

COMEDY OF MANNERS—Isabelle Lefaucheux promises her husband that she will be faithful to him. Then she remembers that she has promised the same thing to Jules, the boy who works in their store. She suffers from not being able to grant her faith and her love.

However, Lefaucheux fires Jules. This event precipitates a dramatic triumph of love, and we soon find Isabelle cashier in a department store where Jules is salesman. Title: Isabelle Lefaucheux.

HISTORICAL PLAY—The famous novelist Stendhal is the ringleader of a Bonapartist plot which ends in the heroic death of a young singer during a presentation of Don Juan at the Scala Theatre in Milan. Since Stendhal had hidden his identity under a pseudonym, he withdraws from the affair admirably. Grand marches, procession of historical personages.

OPERA—Buridan's ass hesitates to satisfy his hunger and his thirst. The she-ass of Balaam prophesies that the ass will die. The golden ass comes, eats and drinks. The Wild-Ass's-Skin comes and displays his nudity to this asinine herd. Passing by, Sancho's ass thinks that he can prove his robustness by carrying off the child, but the traitor, Melo, warns the Genius of la Fontaine. He proclaims his jealousy and beats the golden ass. Metamorphoses. The Prince and the Infant make their entrance on horseback. The King abdicates in their favor.

PATRIOTIC PLAY—The Swedish government lays suit against the French Government for manufacturing an imitation of "Swedish matches." In the last act they exhume the remains of an alchemist of the XIVth Century who invented these matches, at La Ferté-Gaucher, a village in France, not far from Paris.


The handsome chauffeur
Cried to his neighbor
If you will show me your salon
I wilt show you my kitchen.

Here is enough to nourish a whole career of playwriting, sir.


Young man, it is also important to know theatrical anecdotes; they help to fill out the conversation of a young dramatic author; here are a few:

Frederick the Great was accustomed to having his court actresses whipped before each presentation. He believed that flagellation communicated a rosy tint to their skin which was not without its charm.

At the court of the Grand Turk, the Bourgeois Gentilhomme was being played, but in order to adapt it to the taste of the environment the mamamouchi became a Knight of the Garter.[10]

Cecile Vestris, while returning to Mayence, one day, had her carriage held up by the famous Rhenish bandit Schinderhans. She rallied her spirits against this ill-fortune and danced for Schinderhans in the hall of a roadside tavern.

Ibsen was sleeping one time with a young Spanish lady who cried out at the proper moment:

"Now!... now!... Mr. Dramatist!"

An erudite actor admitted to me that he had liked only one statue in all his life: The Squatting Scribe, sculptured by an Egyptian, long before Jesus-Christ, and which he saw in the Louvre. But they are beginning to talk much less of Scribe, and yet he still reigns over the theatre.


Do not forget the final scene, nor the words at the end, nor the fact that the more crust you have the more you shine, nor that a number that is cited must end in 7 or 3 in order to seem accurate; nor not to lend money to anybody who says: "I have five acts at the Odéon," or "I have three acts at the Comédie-Française," nor to say carelessly: "If you want some free passes, I have so many of them, that I am obliged to give them to my concierge;" that doesn't lead to anything.

A young man at this point made good the occasion to come and sing with equivocal gestures and a lascivious air, some childish and entrancing songs.


What juice, sir!


Juice of the hat?


No-no! I am mistaken. What a fluid!

He trembles like the paunch of an archbishop.


Use the proper word, not your paunch.


What a joy, sir, what a joy! It would soften a crocodile to tears and would please a scholar as well as a financier.


Good-bye, gentlemen, I am your devoted servant. With your permission I will return in a few days. I feel that my play is not in proper shape yet.

André Dérain


On a spring morning, Croniamantal, following the instructions of the Bird of Benin, reached the Meudon woods and stretched himself out in the shade of a tree whose branches hung very low.


God I am tired, not of walking but of being alone. I am thirsty—not for wine, hydromel or beer, but for water, fresh water from that lovely wood where the grass and the trees are rose at every dawn, but where no spring arrests the progress of the parched traveller. The walk has sharpened my appetite; I am hungry, though not for the flesh nor for fruit, but for bread, good solid bread, swollen like mammals, bread, round as the moon and gilded as she.

He arose then. He went deep into the woods and came to the clearing, where he was to meet Tristouse Ballerinette. The damsel had not yet arrived. Croniamantal longed for a fountain and his imagination, or perhaps some sorcerer's talent in himself which he had never suspected, caused a limpid water suddenly to flow among the grass.

Croniamantal flung himself down and drank avidly, when he heard the voice of a woman singing far off:

'Tis the shepherdess beloved of the king
Who has gone to the fountain
In the dewy fields, all blossoming
To the fountain
But here comes Croquemitaine
To the fountain
And Hickorydock! advance no further.


Dost thou think already of her who sings? Thou laughest dully in this clearing. Dost thou believe that she has been rounded like a round table for the equality of men and weeks? Thou knowest well, the days do not resemble each other.

About the round table, the good are no longer equal; one has the sun in his face, it dazzles him and soon quits him for his neighbor. Another has his shadow before him. All are good, and good thou art thyself, but they are no more equal than the day and the night.


Wears the rose and the lilac
The king rides off—Hello Germaine
Thou wilt come back again


The voices of women are always ironical. Is the weather always fair? Someone is already damned instead of me. It is nice in the deep woods. Hearken no longer to the voice of woman! Ask! Ask!


Hello Germaine
I come to love between thine arms
Ah! Sire, our cow is full
Really Germaine
Your servant also, I believe.


She who sings in order to lure me will be ignorant as I, and dancing with lassitudes.


The cow is full
When autumn comes she'll calve
Farewell my king Dondidondaine
The cow is full
And my heart empty without thee

Croniamantal stands on the tip of his toes to see if he can perceive through the branches the so-beloved who comes.


But when will come my Croquemitaine
At the fountain it is very cold
After the winter I shall be less cold.

In the clearing there appeared a young girl, svelte and brunette. Her countenance was sombre and starred with roving eyes like birds of bright plumage. Her sparse but short hair left her neck bare; her hair was tousled and dark, and by the skipping rope which she carried, Croniamantal recognized her to be Tristouse Ballerinette.


No further, child with bare arms! I shall come to you myself. Someone has just hushed under the pines and will be able to overhear us.


This one is surely the issue of an egg, like Castor and Pollax. I recall how my mother, who was very foolish, used to talk to me about them of long evenings. The hunter of serpent's eggs, son of the serpent himself,—I am afraid of those old memories.


Have no fear, woman of the naked arms. Stay with me. My lips are filled with kisses. Here, here. I lay them on thy brow, on thy hair. I caress thy hair with its ancient perfume. I caress thy hairs which intertwine like the worms on the bodies of the dead. O death, o death, hairy with worms. I have kisses on my lips. Here, here they are, on thy hands, on thy neck, on thine eyes, thine eyes. I have lips full of kisses, here, here, burning like a fever, sustained to enchant thee, kisses, mad kisses, on the ear, the temple, the cheek. Feel my embraces, bend under the effort of my arm, be languid, be languid. I have kisses upon my lips, here, here, mad ones, upon thine eyes, upon thy neck, upon thy brow, upon thy youth, I longed so to love thee, this spring day when there are no more blossoms on the branches which prepare themselves to bear fruit.


Leave me, go away. Those who move each other are happy, but I do not love you. You frighten me. However, do not despair, o poet. Listen, this is my best advice: Go away!


Alas! Alas! To leave again, to wander unto the oceanic limits, through the brush, the evergreen, in the scum, in the mud, the dust, across the forests, the prairies, the plantations, and the very happy gardens.


Go away. Go away, far from the antique perfume of my hair, o thou who belongest to me.

And Croniamantal went off without turning his head once; he could be seen for a long time through the branches, and then his voice could be heard growing fainter and fainter as he disappeared from view.


Traveller without a stick, pilgrim without staff and poet without a writing pad, I am more powerless than all other men, I own nothing more and I know nothing...

And his voice no longer reached Tristouse Ballerinette who was admiring her image in the pool.

In another age monks cultivated the forest of Malverne.


The sun declines slowly, and blessing thee, O Lord; we are going to sleep in the monastery so that the dawn may find us in the forest.


Every day, every day, flights of anguished birds see their nests crushed and their eggs broken when the trees sway with shaking branches.


It is the happy hour of twilight when the girls and boys come to roll on the grass. And all of them have kisses that want to fall like over-ripe fruit or like the egg when it is about to be laid. Do you see them there, do you see them dance, muse, haunt, chant from dusk to the dawn, his pale sister?


(In the middle of the Cortège)

I am afraid to live and I should like to die. Convulsions of earth. Labor! O lost time...


Gay! Gay! the broken eggs
The ready-made omelette cooked on a downy fire
Here! Here!
Take to the right

Turn to the left
Straight ahead
Behind the fallen oak
There and everywhere.


(In another age, near the Forest of Malverne and a little before the passage of the monks.)

The winds disperse before me, the forests fall away and become a wide track with corpses here and there. The travellers meet with too many corpses for some time, with garrulous corpses.


I don't want to work any more, I want to dream and pray.

He sleeps, his face turned to the sky, on the road bordered with willows of the color of mist.

The night had come with the moonlight. Croniamantal saw the monks bent over the nonchalant bodies of their brothers. Then he heard a little plaint, a feeble cry that died in a last sigh. And slowly they passed in Indian file before Croniamantal, who was hidden behind a clump of willows.


I should love to send this man astray amid the spectres that float among the bubbles. But he flees toward the times that come, and whither he is already arrived.

The banging of distant doors changes into the sound of trains in motion. A large, grassy track, barred by trunks and fenced with enormous joined stones. Life commits suicide. A path that people follow. They never tire. Subways where the air is poisoned. Corpses. Voices call Croniamantal. He runs, he runs, he descends.

* * *

In the lovely woods, Tristouse promenaded meditating.


My heart is sad without thee, Croniamantal. I loved thee without knowing it. All is green. All is green above my head and beneath my feet. I have lost him whom I loved. I must search this way and that way, here and yonder. And among them all I shall surely find someone who will please me.

Returned from other times, Croniamantal cried out at sight of Tristouse and the fountain again:


Goddess! who art thou? Where is thine eternal form?


Oh, there he is again, handsomer than ever... Listen, o poet. I belong to thee, henceforth.

Without looking at Tristouse, Croniamantal bent over the pool.


I love fountains, they are beautiful symbols of immortality when they never run dry. This one has never run dry. And I seek a divinity, but I desire her to appear eternal to me. And my fountain has never run dry.

He knelt and prayed to the fountain, while Tristouse, all in tears, lamented.

O poet, adorest thou the fountain? O Lord, return my lover to me! Come to me! I know such lovely songs.


The fountain hath its murmur.


Very well, then! Sleep with thy cold lover, let her drown thee! But if thou livest, thou belongest to me and thou shalt obey me.

She was gone, and throughout the forest of twittering birds, the fountain flowed and murmured, while there arose the voice of Croniamantal who wept and whose tears mingled with the worshipped flood.


O fountain! Thou who springest like a staunchless blood. Thou who art cold as marble, but living, transparent and fluid. Thou, ever renewed and ever the same. Thou who makest living thy verdant banks, I love thee. Thou art my unrivalled goddess. Thou quenchest my thirst. Thou purifiest me. Thou murmurest to me thine eternal song which rocks me to sleep in the evenings.


At the bottom of my little bed full of an Orient of gems, I hear thee with contentment, o poet whom I have enchanted. I recall Avallon where we might have lived, thou as the King Fisher and I awaiting thee under the apple trees. O islands of apple trees. But I am happy in my precious little bed. These amethysts are sweet to my gaze. This lapis-lazuli is more blue than a fair sky. This malachite represents to me a prairie. Sardonyx, onyx, agate, rock-crystal, you shall scintillate tonight, for I will give a feast in honor of my lover. I shall come alone as befits a virgin. The power of my lover has already been manifested and his gifts are sweet to my soul. He has given me his eyes all in tears, two adorable fountains, sweet tributaries of my stream.


O fecund fountain, thy waters resemble thy hair. Thy flowers are born about thee and we shall love each other always.

Nothing could be heard but the song of birds and the rustling of leaves, and at times the plashing of a bird playing in the water.

A dandy appeared in the little wood: It was Paponat the Algerian. He approached the fountain dancing.


I know you. You are Paponat who studied in the Orient.


Himself. O poet of the Occident, I come to visit you. I have learned of your enchantment, but I hear that it is not yet too late to converse with you. How humid it is here! It is not at all surprising that your voice is harsh, and you will certainly need a medicament to clear it. I approached you dancing. Is there no way of saving you from the situation in which you have placed yourself.


Bah! But tell me who taught you to dance.


The angels themselves were my dancing masters.


The good or the bad angels? But no matter. I have had enough of all the dances, save one which the Greeks call kordax.


You are gay, Croniamantal, we shall be able to amuse ourselves. I am glad I came here. I love gaiety. I am happy!

And Paponat, his bright eyes profoundly whirling, rubbed his hands gleefully.


You look like me!


Not much. I am happy to live, while you die beside the fountain.


But the happiness which you proclaim, do you not forget it? and forget mine? You resemble me! The happy man rubs his hands. Smell them. What do they smell like?


The odour of death.


Ha! ha! ha! The happy man has the same odour as death! Rub your hands. What difference between the happy man and the corpse! I am also happy, although I don't want to rub my hands. Be happy, rub your hands. Be happy! again! Now do you know it, the odour of happiness?


Farewell. If you make no case for the living, there is no way of talking to you.

And as Paponat disappeared into the night where glittered the innumerable eyes of the celestial animals of impalpable flesh, Croniamantal rose suddenly thinking to himself: "Well—enough of the beauties of Nature and of the thoughts she evokes. I know enough about that for a long time; we had better return to Paris and try to find that exquisite little Tristouse who loves me madly."


Paponat who came back that night from the Meudon woods where he had gone in search of adventure arrived just in time to take the last boat. He had the good luck to run into Tristouse Ballerinette there.

"How are you, young lady?" he asked. "I just saw your lover, Croniamantal, in the woods. He is on the verge of going mad."

"My lover?" said Tristouse. "He is not my lover."

"He is said to be. At least they have been saying he is, in our literary and artistic circles, ever since yesterday."

"They can say whatever they want," said Tristouse firmly. "Anyway I shall have nothing to be ashamed about in such a lover. Is he not handsome and has he not a great talent?"

"You are right. But my, what a pretty hat you have, and what a pretty dress! I am very much interested in the fashions."

"You are always very elegant, Mr. Paponat. Give me the address of your tailor and I shall tell Croniamantal about it."

"Quite useless, he would not use it," said Paponat laughing. "But tell me now, what are the women wearing this year? I have just come from Italy and I am not in touch with things. Please tell me all about it."

"This year," began Tristouse, "the modes are very bizarre and familiar, simple and yet full of fantasy. All material belonging to the different processes of Nature may now enter into the composition of a woman's costume. I have seen a robe made of cork. It was certainly as good as the charming evening gowns of towel which created such a rage at premieres. A great couturier is thinking of launching tailor-made costumes of the backs of old books, bound in calf. Charming! All literary women will want to wear it, and one can approach them and whisper into their ears under the guise of reading the titles of the books. Fish-skeletons are also worn much with hats. You may see delightful young girls, very often, wearing cloaks à la Saint-Jacques de Compostelle; their costume, so it is said, is starred with Saint Jacques shells. Porcelain, stone work and china have suddenly taken an important place in the sartorial art. These materials are worn in belts, on hat-pins, etc.; I have had the good luck to see an adorable reticule all made of the glass eyes that oculists use. Feathers are used not only to decorate hats with, but shoes, gloves, and next year they will even be used with umbrellas. Shoes are being made of Venetian glass and hats out of Bohemian crystal. Not to mention oil-painted gowns, highly colored woolens, and robes bizarrely spotted with ink. In the Spring many will wear dresses made of puffed gold leaf, with pleasant shapes, giving lightness and distinction. Our aviatrices will wear nothing else. For the races there will be the hat made of toy balloons, about twenty at a time being used, giving a luxuriant effect, and very diverting explosions from time to time. The mussel-shell will be worn on slippers. And note that they are beginning to dress with living animals. I met a woman who wore on her hat at least twenty birds; canaries, goldfinches, robins, held by a string tied to their feet, all singing at the top of their voices and flapping their wings. The head-dress of an ambassadress, ever since the last Neuilly fair is made up of a coil of about thirty snakes. 'For whom are those snakes that hiss overhead?' asked the little Romanian attaché with his Dacian accent, who was supposed to be quite a ladies' man. I forgot to tell you that last Wednesday I saw a lady on the boulevards with a ruff having little mirrors laid together and pasted to the material. In the sunlight the effect was sumptuous. One might have thought it a gold mine on a promenade. Later it began to rain and the lady resembled a silver mine. Nutshells make pretty buttons, especially if they are interspersed with filberts. A robe embroidered with coffee grains, cloves, cloves of garlic, onions, and bunches of raisins, is proper to wear when visiting. Fashion is becoming practical and no longer spurns any object, but ennobles all. It does for these things what romanticists do with words."

"Thank you," said Paponat, "you have given me a great deal of information and told it charmingly."

"You are too kind," replied Tristouse.


Six months passed. For the last five Tristouse Ballerinette had been the mistress of Croniamantal, whom she loved passionately for eight days. In exchange for this love, the lyrical youth had rendered her glorious and immortal forever by celebrating her in marvellous poems.

"I was unknown," she mused, "and now he has made me illustrious among all the living.

"I was thought ugly because of my thinness, my large mouth, my bad teeth, my irregular features, my crooked nose. Now I am beautiful and all men tell me so. They mocked at my clumsy and jerky gait, at my sharp elbows which, when I walked, moved like the feet of geese.

"What miracles are born of the love of a poet! But how heavily a poet's love weighs! What sorrows accompany it, what silences to endure! Now that the miracle has been accomplished, I am beautiful and renowned. Croniamantal is ugly, he has wasted his property in a short time; he is poor, lacking in elegance, no longer gay; the slightest of his gestures make him a hundred enemies.

"I love him no longer. I need him no longer, my admirers are enough for me. I shall rid me of him gradually. But that is going to be very annoying. Either I must go away, or he must disappear, so that he doesn't bother me, and so that he isn't able to reproach me."

And after eight days, Tristouse became the mistress of Paponat, although still seeing Croniamantal, whom she treated more and more coldly. The less she came to see him, the more desperately he cared for her. When she did not come at all, he spent hours in front of the house she lived in in the hope of seeing her come out, and if by chance she did, he would escape like a thief, fearing that she might accuse him of spying on her.

* * *

It was by running around after Tristouse Bailerinette that Croniamantal continued his literary education.

One day as he was wandering about Paris, he suddenly found himself at the Seine. He crossed a bridge and walked for some time, when suddenly perceiving before him M. François Coppée, Croniamantal regretted that this passerby was dead. But there is nothing against talking with the dead, and the encounter passed off very pleasantly.

"Come," thought Croniamantal, "to a passerby he would appear to be nothing but a passerby, and the very author of the Passerby.[11] He is a clever and spiritual rhymester, with some feeling for reality. Let us speak to him about rhyme."

The poet of the Passerby was smoking a dark cigarette. He was dressed in black, his visage black; he stood bizarrely on a high stone, and Croniamantal saw quite easily by his pensive air that he was composing verses. He came alongside of him and after having greeted him, said brusquely:

"Dear master, how sombre you seem."

He replied courteously.

"It is because my statue is of bronze. That exposes me constantly to scorn. Thus the other day."

Passing by one day the negro Sam MacVea
Seeing I was the blacker, sat down and muttered:

"See how adroit those lines are. Did you notice how well the couplet I just recited for you rhymes for the eye."

"Indeed," said Croniamantal, "for it is pronounced Sam MacVee, like Shakespeer."

"Well here is something that comes off better," continued the statue:

Passing by one day the negro Sam MacVea
Christened this tablet with a flask of eau-de-vie.

"There is a bit of refinement that ought to appeal to you. It is the rime riche, the perfect rhyme to delight the ear."

"You certainly enlighten me on the rhyme," said Croniamantal. "I am very happy, dear master, to have met you in passing by."

"It is my first success," replied the metallic poet. "But I have just composed a little poem bearing the same title: it is about a gentleman who passes by. The Passerby, across the corridor of a railroad coach; he perceives a charming lady with whom, instead of going only to Brussels, he stops at the Dutch frontier:

They passed at least eight days at Rosendael
He tasted the ideal, she the real
In all things, it chanced, their ways differed,
It was from veritable Love they suffered.

"I call your attention to the last two lines, which through rhyming somewhat imperfectly contain a subtle dissonance, which is further emphasized by the fact of their being morbidly feminine rhymes."

"Dear master," exclaimed Croniamantal, "speak to me of vers libre."

"Long live liberty!" cried the bronze statue.

And having saluted him, Croniamantal went his way looking for Tristouse.

* * *

On another day Croniamantal was walking along the boulevards. Tristouse had missed an appointment with him, and he hoped to find her in a tea room where she sometimes went with her friends. He turned the corner of the rue Le Peletier, when a gentleman, dressed in a pearl-grey cape, accosted him, saying:

"Sir, I am going to reform literature. I have found a superb subject: it is about the sensations of a well bred young bachelor who permits an improper sound to escape in an assemblage of ladies and young people of good family."

Croniamantal was properly amazed at the novelty of the subject, but understood at once how much it would take to test the sensibilities of the author.

Croniamantal fled... A lady stepped on his feet. She was also an authoress, and did not neglect to inform him that this incident would furnish him with a subject of fresh and delicate character.

Croniamantal took to his heels and reached the Pont des Saint Pères where three people were disputing over the subject of a novel and begged him to decide who was right; it was about the case of an officer.

"Fine subject," cried Croniamantal.

"Listen," said his neighbor, a bearded man, "I claim that the subject is too new and too unusual for the present day public."

And the third man explained that it was about an officer of a restaurant company, the man who held office, who presided over the soiled dishes...

Croniamantal did not reply to them but made off to visit an old cook who wrote verse, and at whose place he hoped to find Tristouse at tea time. Tristouse was not there, but Croniamantal was hugely entertained by the mistress of the house who declaimed some poems to him.

It was a poetry that was full of profundity, and in which words had a new meaning entirely. Thus archipel was only used in the sense of papier buvard.[12]

* * *

Some time later, the rich Paponat, proud of being the lover of the renowned Tristouse, and desirous of not losing her, for she did him honor, decided to take his mistress for a trip through Central Europe.

"Fine," said Tristouse, "but we will not travel as lovers, for even though you are nice to me, I don't love you enough, or at least I force myself to the point of not loving you. We shall travel as two friends, and I shall dress up as a young man; my hair is rather short, and I have often been told that I have the air of a handsome young man."

"Very well," said Paponat, "and since we both are in need of repose we shall make our retreat in Moravia in a convent of Brünn where my uncle, the prior of Crepontois, retired after the expulsion of the monks. It is one of the richest and finest convents in the world. I shall present you as one of my friends, and have no fear, we shall be taken for lovers just the same."

"That suits me," said Tristouse, "for I love to pass for that which I am not. We leave tomorrow."


Croniamantal went perfectly mad upon hearing of the departure of Tristouse. But at this time he began to become famous, and as his poetical repute waxed so did his vogue as a dramatist.

The theatres played his plays and the crowd applauded his name, but at the same moment the enemies of poets and poetry were increasing in number and growing in audacious hatred.

He only became more and more sorrowful, his soul shrinking within his enfeebled body.

When he learned of the departure of Tristouse he did not protest, but simply asked the concierge if she knew the destination of the voyage.

"All that I know," said the woman, "is that she has gone to Central Europe."

"Very well," said Croniamantal, and returning to his quarters he gathered up the several thousand francs he still possessed and took the train for Germany at the Gare du Nord.

On the following day, Christmas eve, the train was engulfed in the enormous terminal of Cologne. Croniamantal, carrying a little valise, descended last from his third-class coach.

On the platform of the opposite track the red cap of the station master, the spiked helmets of policemen, and the silk hats of high functionaries indicated that an important person was awaited by the next train. And to be sure Croniamantal heard a little old man, with quick gestures, explaining to his fat wife who gaped with astonishment at the spiked helmets, the red cap, and the silk hats:

"Krupp... Essen... No orders... Italy."

Croniamantal followed the crowd of passengers who had come in on his train. He walked behind two girls, who must have been pigeon-toed, so much did their gait resemble that of the goose. They kept their hands concealed under short cloaks; the head of the first one was covered with a small black hat, from which there dangled a bouquet of blue roses, as well as some straight, black feathers, with the stem trimmed except at the tip, which trembled as if with cold. The hat of the other girl was of a soft, almost brilliant felt, an enormous knot of satinette shrouding her with ridicule. They were probably two servant maids out of a job, for they were pounced upon at the exit by a group of strait-laced and ugly ladies wearing the ribbon of the Catholic Society for the Protection of Young Girls. The ladies of the Protestant Society for the same purpose stood a little further off. Croniamantal following behind a stout man with a short, hard and russet beard, dressed in green, descended the stairway that led to the vestibule of the station.

Outside he saluted the Dome, solitary in the midst of the irregular square which it filled with its bulk. The station heaped its modern mass close to the huge cathedral. Hotels spread their signs in hybrid languages and appeared to hold their respectful distance from the gothic colossus. Croniamantal sniffed the odour of the town for a long time. He seemed to be disappointed.

"She is not here," he said to himself, "my nose would smell her, my nerves would vibrate, my eyes would see her."

He crossed the town, passed the fortifications on foot as if driven by un unknown force along the main road, downstream, on the right bank of the Rhine. And in truth, Tristouse and Paponat had arrived the night before in Cologne, taken an automobile and continued their journey; they had taken the right bank of the Rhine in the direction of Coblenz, and Croniamantal was following their trail.

Christmas eve came. An old prophet of a rabbi from Dollendorf, just as he was venturing upon the bridge which links Bonn with Buel, was repulsed by a violent gust of wind. The snow fell in a great rage. The sound of the gale drowned all the Christmas songs, but the thousand lights of the trees glittered in each house.

The old Jew swore:

"Kreuzdonnerwetter... I shall never get to Haenchen... Winter, my old friend, thou canst avail nothing against my old and joyous carcass, let me cross without hindrance this old Rhine which is as drunken as thirty-six drunkards. As to myself, I bend my steps toward the noble tavern frequented by the Borussians only to tipple in company with those white bonnets and at their cost, like a good Christian, although I am a Jew."

The sound of the gale doubled in fury, strange voices made themselves heard. The old rabbi shivered and raised his head crying:

"Donnerkeil! Ui jeh, ch, ch, ch. Eh! Say, up there, you ought to go about your business instead of making life miserable for poor happy devils whose fate sends them abroad on such nights... Eh! mothers, are you no longer under the domination of Solomon? ...Ohey! Ohey! Tseilom Kop! Meicabl! Farwaschen Ponim! Beheime! You want to prevent me from drinking the excellent Moselle wines with the students of Borussia who are only too happy to toast with me because of my science and my inimitable lyricism, not to mention all my talents for sorcery and prophecy.

"Accursed spirits! know ye that I might have drunk also Rhine wines, not to mention the wines of France. Nor should I have neglected to polish off some champagne in your honor, my old friends!... At midnight, the hour when the Christkindchen is made, I should have rolled under the table and have slept at least during the brawling... But you unchain the winds, you make an infernal uproar during this saintly night which should have been peaceful... as to being calm, you seem to be twisting his pigtail up there, sweet ladies... To amuse Solomon, no doubt... Lilith! Naama! Aguereth! Mahala! Ah! Solomon, for thy pleasure they are going to kill all the poets on this earth.

"Ah Solomon! Solomon! jovial king whose entertainers are the four nocturnal spectres moving from the Orient to the North, thou desirest my death, for I am also a poet like all the Jewish prophets and a prophet like all the poets.

"Farewell drunkenness for tonight... Old Rhine, I must turn my back to thee. I am going back to prepare me for death and dictate my last and most lyrical prophecies..."

A horrible crash, like a stroke of thunder, burst just then. The old prophet pressed his lips together, lowering his head and looking down; then he bent down and held his ear quite close to the ground. When he straightened up he murmured:

"The earth herself can no longer suffer the unbearable contact with poets."

Then he took his way across the streets of Buel, turning his back on the Rhine. When the rabbi had traversed the railroad track he found himself before a crossing and as he hesitated not knowing which to take, he lifted his head again by chance. He saw before him a young man with a valise coming from Bonn; the old rabbi did not recognize the person and cried to him:

"Are you mad to go out in such weather, sir?"

"I am hurrying to rejoin someone whom I have lost and whose track I am following," replied the stranger.

"What is your profession," cried the Jew.

"I am a poet."

The prophet stamped with his foot and as the young man disappeared he cursed him horribly because of the pity he felt, then lowering his head he went to look at the signposts along the road. Wheezing, he took the road straight ahead of him.

"Happily the wind is fallen... at least one can walk... I had thought at first that he was coming to kill me. But, no, he will probably die even before me, this poet who is not even a Jew. Well, let us go quick and merrily to prepare us a glorious death."

The old rabbi walked faster; with his long cloak he gave the effect of a returned spirit, and some children who were returning from Putzchen after the Christmas Tree party passed him crying with terror, and for a long time they threw stones in the direction in which he had disappeared.

* * *

Croniamantal covered in this way part of Germany and the Austrian Empire; the force that propelled him drew him across Thuringia, Saxony, Bohemia, Moravia, up to Brünn, where he decided to stop.

On the very night of his arrival, he scoured the town. Along the streets surrounding the old palace enormous Swiss guards in breeches and cocked hats, were standing before the doors. They leaned on long canes with crystal heads. Their gold buttons gleamed like the eyes of cats. Croniamantal lost his way; he wandered about for some time in poor streets where shadows passed vividly across drawn blinds. Officers in long blue coats passed by. Croniamantal turned to glance at them, then he walked outside of the town with night coming on, to look at the sombre mass of the Spielberg. While he was looking at the old state prison, he heard the sound of feet dose by and then saw three monks pass gesticulating and talking loudly. Croniamantal ran after them and asked them directions.

"You are French," they said; "come with us."

Croniamantal examined them and noticed that they wore above their frocks little beige cloaks that were very elegant. Each one carried a light cane and wore a melon-shaped hat. On the way one of the monks said to Croniamantal:

"You have wandered far from your hotel, we will show you the way if you wish. But if you care to, you may certainly come to the convent with us: you will be well received because you are a foreigner and you can pass the night there."

Croniamantal accepted joyfully, saying:

"I shall be very glad to come, for aren't you brothers to me, who am a poet."

They began to laugh. The oldest, who wore a gold-framed lorgnon and whose belly puffed out of his fashionable waistcoat, raised his arms and cried:

"A poet! Is it possible!"

And the two others, who were thinner, choked with laughter, bending down and holding their bellies as if they had the colic.

"Let us be serious," said the monk with the lorgnon, "we are going to pass through a street inhabited by the Jews."

In the streets, at every step, old women standing like pines in a forest, called them, making signals.

"Let us flee from this stench," said the fat monk, who was a Czech and who was called Father Karel by his companions.

Croniamantal and the monks stopped at last before a great convent door. At the sound of the bell the porter came to let them in. The two thin monks said good-bye to Croniamantal, who remained alone with Father Karel in a parlor that was richly furnished.

"My child," said Father Karel, "you are in a unique convent. The monks who inhabit it are all very proper people. We have old archdukes, and even former architects, soldiers, scientists, poets, inventors, a few monks expelled from France, and some lay guests of good breeding. All of them are saints. I, myself, such as you see me, with my lorgnon and my pot-belly, am a saint. I shall show you your room, where you may stay until nine o'clock; then you will hear the bell ring and I shall come to look for you."

Father Karel guided Croniamantal through long corridors. Then they went up a stairway of white marble and on the second floor, Father Karel opened a door and said:

"Your room."

He showed him the electric button and left.

The room was round, the bed and the chairs were round; on the chimney piece a skull looked like an old cheese.

Croniamantal stood by the window, under which spread the teeming darkness of a large monastery garden, from which there seemed to rise laughter, sighs, cries of joy, as if a thousand couples were embracing each other. Then a woman's voice in the garden sang a song which Croniamantal had heard before:

Wears the rose and the lilac
The King is a-coming
—Hello Germaine
Wilt thou come back again?

And Croniamantal began to sing the rest:

Hello Germaine
I come to love among thine arms.

Then he heard the voice of Tristouse continuing the couplet.

And voices of men here and there, sang airs that were strange or grave, while the cracked voice of an old man stuttered:

Vexilla regis prodeunt...

At this moment Father Karel entered the room, as a bell rang full force.

"Well, my boy! Listening to the sounds of our fine garden? It is full of memories, this earthly paradise. Tychobrahé made love there with a pretty Jewess who said to him all the time: Chazer,—which means pig in the jargon.[13] I myself, have seen such and such an archduke play with a pretty boy whose behind was shaped like a heart. Let us come to dinner."

They arrived in a vast refectory still empty, and the poet examined at his leisure the frescoes which covered the wall.

One was of Noah, dead-drunk on a couch. His son Cham was uncovering his nakedness, that is to say the root of a vine naively and prettily painted whose branches served as a genealogical tree, or something of the sort, for they had painted the names of all the abbés in red letters on all the leaves.

The marriage of Cana showed a Mannekenpis pissing wine into the casks while the spouse, at least eight months with child, offered her belly to someone who was writing on it in charcoal: TOKAI.

And then again there was a fresco of the soldiers of Gideon relieving themselves of the awful colic caused by the water they had drunk.

The long table that covered the middle of the hall was spread with a rare sumptuousness. The glasses and decanters were of Bohemian cut-glass, and of the finest red crystal. The superb silver pieces glittered on the whiteness of the cloth strewn with violets.

The monks arrived one by one, their hoods on their heads, arms folded on their breasts. On entering they greeted Croniamantal and took their accustomed places. As they came in, Father Karel informed Croniamantal of their name and what country they came from. The table was soon filled and Croniamantal counted fifty-six of them. The Abbé, an Italian with narrow eyes, said grace and the repast began, but Croniamantal anxiously awaited the arrival of Tristouse.

A bouillon was served in which there swam little brains of birds and sweet peas...

* * *

"Our two French guests have just left," said a French monk who had been the prior of Crepentois. "I could not hold them here: the companion of my nephew was just singing in the garden in his pretty soprano voice. He almost fainted at hearing some one in the convent sing the close of the song. They left just now and took the train, for their automobile was not ready. We shall send it on to them by rail. They did not impart to me the destination of their journey, but I think that the pious children are bound for Marseilles. At least, I think I heard them talk of that town."

Croniamantal, pale as a sheet, rose, then:

"Excuse me, good fathers," he said, "but it was wrong of me to accept your hospitality. I must go away, do not ask me the reason. But I shall keep a fond memory of the simplicity, the gaiety, the liberty that reign here. All that is dear to me to the highest degree, why, why, alas, can I not profit of it?"


At this time prizes for poetry were being awarded every day. Thousands of societies had been founded for this purpose and their members lived on the fat of the land, while making upon fixed dates large benefices to poets. But the 26th of January was the day upon which the largest associations, companies, boards of directors, academies, committees, juries, etc., of the whole world bestowed their awards. Upon this day 8,019 prizes for poetry were distributed, the total of which aggregated 50,005,225 francs.[14] On the other hand, since the taste for poetry had never spread among any class of the population of any country, public opinion had risen powerfully against the poets who were called parasites, lazy, useless, and so forth. The 26th of January of this year passed without incident, but on the following day the great newspaper, La Voix, published at Adelaide (Australia) in the French language, contained an article by the distinguished agricultural chemist Horace Tograth (a German born at Leipzig), whose discoveries and inventions had frequently seemed to border on the miraculous. The article, entitled The Laurel, contained a sort of chronology of the culture of the laurel in Judea, in Greece, in Italy, in Africa and in Provence. The author gave counsel to those who had laurel trees in their gardens, indicating the multiple usage of the laurel, as a food, in art, in poetry, and its rôle as a symbol of poetic glory. He then began to talk of mythology, making allusions to Apollo and the fable of Daphné. Finally, Horace Tograth changed his tone brusquely and concluded his article as follows:

"And furthermore, I say candidly, this useless tree is still too common, and we have less glorious symbolisms to which people attribute the famous savour of the laurel. The laurel holds too large a place upon our overpopulated earth, the laurels are unworthy of living. Each one of them takes the place of two in the sun. Let them be chopped down, and let their leaves be feared as a poison. Hitherto symbols of poetry and literary science, they are nothing more today than that death-glory which is to glory as death is to life, and as the hand of glory is to the key.

"True glory has abandoned poetry for science, philosophy, acrobatics, philanthropy, sociology, etc. ...Poets are good for nothing more nowadays than to receive money which they do not earn, since they scarcely ever work and most of them (except for the minstrels) have no talent and no excuse whatsoever. As to those who have some gifts, they are even more obnoxious, for if they receive nothing they make more noise than a regiment and din our ears with their being persecuted. None of these people have any raison d'être. The prizes which are awarded them are stolen from workers, inventors, scientists, philosophers, acrobats, philanthropists, sociologists, and so forth. The poets must disappear. Lycurgus would have banished them from the Republic, we too must banish them. Otherwise, the poets, lazy fiefs, will become our princes and while doing nothing, live off our work, oppressing us, and mocking us. In short, we must rid ourselves immediately of the poets' tyranny.

"If the republics and the kings, if the nations do not take care, the race of poets, too privileged, will increase in such proportions and so rapidly that in a short time no one will want to work, invent, teach, do dangerous feats, heal the sick and improve the lot of unfortunate men."

An enormous stir greeted this article. It was telegraphed or telephoned everywhere, all the newspapers reproduced it. A few literary journals followed their quotations from Tograth's article with mocking reflections as to the scientist; there were doubts as to his mental state. They laughed at the terror which he manifested over the lyric laurel. However, the journals of commerce and information made great ado about his warnings. They even said that the article in La Voix was a work of genius.

The article by Horace Tograth had been a singular pretext, admirably fitted to fan the blaze of hatred for poetry. It made its appeal through the traditional sense of the supernatural, whose memory lies in all well born men, and to the instinct for preservation which all beings feel. That was why nearly all Tograth's readers were thunderstruck, aghast, and wanted to lose no occasion to obliterate poets, who, because of the great numbers of prizes they received, were the subjects of the jealousy of all classes of the population. The majority of the newspapers advocated that the government take measures leading to the prohibition of all poetry prizes.

In the evening, in a later edition of La Voix, the agricultural chemist, Horace Tograth, published a new article, which, like the other, telephoned or telegraphed everywhere, carried popular emotion to a climax in the press, among the public and the governments. The scientist concluded as follows:

"World, choose between thy life and poetry; if serious measures are not taken, civilization is done for. Thou must not hesitate. From tomorrow on begins the new era. Poetry will exist no longer, the lyres too heavy for old inspirations will be broken. The poets will be massacred."

* * *

During the night, life went on just as usual in all the cities of the globe. The article, telegraphed everywhere, had been published in the special editions of the local newspapers and snatched up by the hungry public. The people all sided with Tograth. Ring-leaders descended into the streets and, mingling with the aroused mobs, excited them further. But most governments held sittings that very night and passed legislation which provoked an indescribable enthusiasm. France, Italy, Spain and Portugal decreed that all poets established on their territory should be imprisoned at once pending the determination of their lot.

Foreign poets who were absent and sought to re-enter the country risked being condemned to death. It was cabled that the United States of America had decided to electrocute any man who avowed his profession to be that of poetry.

It was telegraphed that in Germany also a decree had been passed ordering all poets in verse or prose found on the imperial territory to be incarcerated until further orders. In fact, all of the States on earth, even those who possessed nothing but meager little bards lacking in all lyricism took measures against the very name of poetry. Only England and Russia were exceptions. The laws went into effect at once. All poets who were found on French, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese territory were arrested on the following day, while the literary magazines appeared all garbed in black, lamenting the new terror. Dispatches toward noon told how Aristenetius Southwest, the great Negro poet of Haiti, had been cut into pieces and devoured by an infuriated populace of negroes and mulattoes. At Cologne, the Kaiserglocke had sounded all night and in the morning Herr Professor Doktor Stimmung, author of a medieval epic in forty-eight cantos, having gone out to take the train for Hanover, was set upon by a troop of fanatics who beat him with sticks, crying: "Death to the poet!"

He took refuge in the cathedral and remained locked in there with a few beadles, by the excited population of Drikkes, Hanses, and Marizibills. These last particularly, were beside themselves with rage, invoking the Virgin, Saint Ursula and the Three Royal Magi in platdeutsch. Their paternosters and pious oaths were interspersed with admirably vile insults to the professor-poet, who owed his reputation chiefly to the unisexuality of his morals. His head to the ground, he was nearly dying of fear under the big wooden statue of Saint Christopher. He heard the sounds of masons walling up all the gates of the cathedral and resigned himself to die of hunger.

Toward two o'clock it was telegraphed that a sexton poet of Naples had seen the blood of Saint January boil up in the holy phial. The sacristan had gone out to proclaim the miracle and had hastened to the harbor front to play buck-buck. He won all that he desired at this game and a knife thrust in the breast to the bargain.

Telegrams everywhere announced the arrests of poets, one after another, and the electrocution of the American poets was made known early in the afternoon.

In Paris, several young poets of the left bank, who had been spared on account of their lack of notoriety, organized a demonstration extending from the Closerie des Lilas to the Conciergerie, where the "prince of poets" was imprisoned.[15]

Troops arrived to disperse the demonstrators. The cavalry charged. The poets drew their firearms and defended themselves but the people rushed in and took a hand in the mêlée. The poets were strangled and so was everyone else who came to their defense.

Thus began the great persecution which swept rapidly throughout the entire world. In America, after the electrocution of the famous poets, they lynched all the negro minstrels and even many persons who had never in their lives written a rhyme; then they fell upon the whites of literary Bohemia. It was learned that Tograth, after having personally directed the persecution in Australia, had embarked at Melbourne.

André Dérain


Like Orpheus, all the poets felt violent death staring them in the face. Everywhere, publishers had been pillaged and collections of verse burnt. The admiration of all went out to Horace Tograth who, from far off Adelaide (Australia), had succeeded in unloosing this storm which seemed destined to destroy poetry forever. This man's knowledge, they said, bordered on the miraculous. He could drive away clouds or bring on rain anywhere he pleased. Women, once they had seen him, were ready to do his bidding. For the rest, he did not disdain either feminine or masculine virginities. As soon as Tograth had seen what enthusiasms he had evoked in the whole world, he announced that he would visit the principal cities of the globe, after Australia had been rid of its erotic and elegiac poets. And indeed some time later uprisings of the population were heard of in Tokyo, Pekin, Yakutsk, Calcutta, Buenos Ayres, San Francisco, Chicago, upon the appearance of the terrible German, Tograth. Wherever he went, he left an unearthly impression on account of his "miracles" (which he called scientific), and his extraordinary healings, all of which lifted his repute as a scientist and a thaumaturgist to sublime heights.

On May 30, Tograth debarked at Marseilles. The people were massed along the quays; Tograth landed from the steamer in a launch. No sooner was he recognized than cries, shouts, toasts, from innumerable gullets mingled with the sound of the wind, the waves and the sirens of the vessels. Tograth, tall and thin, was standing up in the launch. As it approached the land, the features of the hero could be distinguished more and more clearly. His face was smooth-shaven and blue, his mouth almost lipless, disfigured by an ugly cut; he had a receding chin which gave him the appearance, one might have said, of a shark. His brow rose straight up, very high and very large. Tograth was dressed in a pasty white costume, his shoes also being white and high-heeled. He wore no hat. As soon as he placed his foot upon the soil of Marseilles the furor of the crowd rose to such heights that when the quays were cleared three hundred people were found dead, strangled, trampled, crushed. Several men seized the hero and raised him upon their shoulders while they sang and shouted, and women threw flowers at him all the way to the hotel where a suite had been prepared for him and managers, interpreters and bell-boys were waiting to greet him.

* * *

On the same morning, Croniamantal coming from Brünn had arrived at Marseilles to look for Tristouse who had been there since the evening before with Paponat. All three mingled in the crowd which acclaimed Tograth before the hotel where he was to stop.

"Happy tumult," said Tristouse, "You are not a poet, Paponat, you have learned things which are worth infinitely more than poetry. Is it not true, Paponat, that you are in no way a poet?"

"Indeed, my dear," replied Paponat, "I have rhymed at times in order to amuse myself, but I am not a poet, I am an excellent business man and no one knows better than I how to manage an estate."

"Tonight you must mail a letter to La Voix of Adelaide; you must tell them all that, and so you will be safe."

"I shall not fail to do that," said Paponat. "Did you ever hear of such a thing, a poet! That goes for Croniamantal."

"I hope to God," said Tristouse, "that they will massacre him in Brünn where he expects to find us."

"But there he is right now," whispered Paponat. "He is in the crowd. He is hiding himself and hasn't seen us."

"I wish they would hurry up and massacre him," sighed Tristouse. "I have an idea that that will happen soon."

"Look," exclaimed Paponat, "here comes the hero."

* * *

The cortège which accompanied Tograth arrived at the hotel, and he was permitted to descend from their shoulders. Tograth turned to the crowd and addressed them:

"Citizens of Marseilles, in thanking you I could employ, if I wished, compliments that are fatter than your world-renowned sardines. I could, if I wished, make a long speech. But words will never quite encompass the magnificence of the reception which you have accorded me. I know that there are maladies in your midst that I might heal not only with my knowledge but with that which scientists have accumulated for myriads of years. Bring forth the sick, and I shall heal them."

A man whose cranium was as bald as that of an inhabitant of Mycona cried:

"Tograth! god-like mortal, all puissant savantissimo! Give me a luxuriant mane of hair."

Tograth smiled and asked that the man approach him: then he touched the denuded head, saying:

"Thy sterile pate shall be covered with an abundant vegetation, but remember always this favor by hating the laurel."

At the same time as the bald man, a little girl approached. She implored Tograth:

"Sweet man, sweet man, look at my mouth, my lover with a blow of his fist has broken several teeth. Return them to me."

The scientist smiled and put his finger into her mouth, saying: "Now thou canst chew, thou hast excellent teeth. But in return, show us what thou hast in thy bag."

The girl laughed, opening her mouth in which the new teeth gleamed; then she opened her bag, excusing herself:

"What a funny idea, before everybody! Here are my keys, here an enamelled photograph of my lover; he really looks better than that."

But the eyes of Tograth were greedy; he had perceived all folded up in her bag several Parisian songs, rhymed and set to Viennese airs. He took these papers and after having scrutinized them, asked:

"These are nothing but songs, hast thou no poems?"

"I have a very lovely one," said the girl. "It was the bell-boy of the Hotel Victoria wrote it for me before he left for Switzerland. But I never showed it to Sossi."

And she proffered Tograth a little rose sheet of paper on which was written a pathetic acrostic.

My dear beloved, ere I go away,
And thy love, Maria, I betray,
MARIA  Rail and sob, my sweet, once more—again,
If you'd come with me to the woods, we twain,(!)
All would be sweeter; our parting would not pain.

"It is not only poetry," exclaimed Tograth, "it is idiotic."

And he tore up the paper and threw it into the ditch, while the girl knocked her teeth in fright and cried:

"Sweet man, good man, I did not know that it was bad."

Just then Croniamantal advanced close to Tograth and apostrophized the crowd:

"Carrion, assassins!"

They burst into laughter. They yelled:

"Into the water with him, the rat."

And Tograth, looking Croniamantal in the face, said:

"My good brother, let not my affluence disturb you. As for me, I love the people, even though I stop at hotels which they do not frequent."

The poet let Tograth talk, then he continued to address the crowd:

"Carrion, laugh at me, your joys are numbered, each one of them will be torn from you one by one. And do you know, o people, what your hero is?"

Tograth smiled and the crowd became all attention. The poet continued:

"Your hero, o populace, is Boredom bringing Misery."

A cry of astonishment issued from all the throats. Women crossed themselves. Tograth wanted to speak, but Croniamantal seized him suddenly by the neck, threw him to the ground and held him there with his foot on the man's chest, while he spoke:

"He is Boredom and Misery, the monstrous enemy of man, the Behemoth glutted with debauchery and rape, dripping the blood of marvellous poets. He is the vomit of the Antipodes, and his miracles deceive the clairvoyant no more than the miracles of Simon the Magi did the Apostles. Marseillais, Marseillais, woe that you whose ancestors come from the most purely lyrical land, should unite with the enemies of poetry, with the barbarians of all the nations. What a strange miracle, this, of the German returned from Australia! To have imposed it upon the world and to have been for a moment stronger than creation itself, stronger than immortal poetry."

But Tograth who was able to extricate himself at last, arose, soiled with dust and drunk with rage. He asked:

"Who are you?"

"Who are you, who are you?" cried the crowd.

The poet turned toward the east and in exalted tones said:

"I am Croniamantal, the greatest of living poets. I have often seen God face to face, I have borne the divine rapture which my human eyes tempered. I was born in eternity. But the day has come, and I am here before you."

Tograth greeted these last words with a terrible burst of laughter, and the first ranks of the crowd seeing Tograth laugh, took up his laughter, which, in bursts, in rolls, in trills, was soon communicated throughout the entire populace, even to Paponat and Tristouse Ballerinette. All of the open mouths yawned at Croniamantal, who became ill at ease. Interspersed with the laughter were shouts of:

"Into the water with the poet!... Burn him, Croniamantal!... To the dogs with him, lover of the laurel!"

A man who was in the first ranks and carried a heavy club gave Croniamantal a blow, causing him to make a painful grimace which doubled the merriment of the crowd. A stone, accurately thrown, struck the nose of the poet and drew blood. A fish merchant forced his way through the mob and, confronting Croniamantal, said:

"Hou! the raven. I remember you, all right, you're a policeman who wanted to pass for a poet; there, cow; take that, story teller."

And he gave him a terrific slap, spitting in his face. The man whom Tograth had cured of alopecia came to him and said:

"Look at my hair, is it a false miracle or not?"

And lifting his cane, he thrust it so adroitly that he gouged out Croniamantal's right eye. Croniamantal fell over backward, women threw themselves upon him and beat him. Tristouse jumped up and down with joy, while Paponat tried to calm her. But she went over and with the end of her umbrella stuck out Croniamantal's other eye, while he, seeing her in this last moment of sight, cried:

"I confess my love for Tristouse Ballerinette, the divine poesy that consoles my soul."

"Shut up, vermin!" cried the crowd of men, "there are ladies here."

The women went away soon, and a man who was balancing a large knife on his open hand threw it in such a way that it landed right in the open mouth of Croniamantal. Other men did the same thing. The knives stuck in his belly, his chest, and soon there was nothing more on the ground than a corpse bristling with points like the husk of a chestnut.


Croniamantal dead, Paponat brought Tristouse Ballerinette back to the hotel, where she relapsed into nervous fainting-spells. They were in a very old building and by chance Paponat discovered, wrapped up in cardboard, a bottle of water of the Queen of Hungary which dated from the 17th Century. This remedy worked rapidly. Tristouse recovered her senses and immediately went to the hospital to claim the body of Croniamantal which was turned over to her without delay.

She arranged a decent burial for him and placed over his tomb a stone on which there was engraved the following epitaph:

Walk lightly and your silence keep,
To leave untroubled his good sleep.

Then she went back to Paris with Paponat who soon left her for a mannikin of the Champs-Élysées.

Tristouse did not regret him very long. She went into mourning for Croniamantal and climbed up to the Montmartre, to the Bird of Benin's who began to pay court to her, and after he had what he desired they began to talk of Croniamantal.

"I ought to make a statue to him," said the Bird of Benin, "For I am not only a painter but also a sculptor."

"That's right," said Tristouse, "we must raise a statue to him."

"Where?" asked the Bird of Benin; "The government will not grant us any ground. Times are bad for poets."

"So they say," replied Tristouse, "but perhaps it isn't true. What do you think of the Meudon woods?"

"I thought of that, but I dared not say it. Let's go to the Meudon woods."

"A statue of what?" asked Tristouse, "Marble? Bronze?"

"No, that's old fashioned. I must model a profound statue out of nothing, like poetry and glory."

"Bravo! Bravo!" cried Tristouse clapping her hands, "A statue out of nothing, empty, that's lovely, and when will you make it?"

"Tomorrow, if you wish; we shall go and dine, pass the night together, and in the morning we shall go to the Meudon woods where I shall make this profound statue."

* * *

No sooner said, than done. They went and dined with the élite of the Montmartre, returned to sleep at midnight and on the next morning at nine o'clock, after having armed himself with a pick-axe, a spade, a shovel and some boasting-chisels, they took the road for the pretty Meudon woods, where they met the Prince of Poets, accompanied by his little friend, quite happy over the pleasant days he had spent in the City-prison.

In the clearing, the Bird of Benin set to work. In a few hours he had dug a trench of about a meter and a half in breadth and two in depth.

Then they had lunch on the grass.

The afternoon was devoted by the Bird of Benin to sculpturing the interior of the monument to Croniamantal.

On the following day, the sculptor came back with workingmen who fixed up an armed cement wall, six inches broad on top, and eighteen inches broad at the base, so that the empty space had the form of Croniamantal, and the hole was full of his spectre.

* * *

On the next day, the Bird of Benin, Tristouse, the Prince of Poets and his little friend came back to the statue which was heaped up with earth which they had gathered here and there, and at nightfall they planted a fine laurel tree, while Tristouse Ballerinette danced and sang:

No one loves thee thou art lying
Palantila Mila Mima
When he was lover to the queen
He was king while she was queen

'Tis true, 'tis true that I love him
Croniamantal way down in the pit
Can that be right
Let us gather the sweet marjoram
At night.



[1]The French language at the end of the nineteenth century had reached a certain fixation, chiefly through the influence of Mallarmé, whose literary artifice was consternating. Apollinaire, a bizarre scholar, and yet a "lord of language," was more of a freebooter. Many of his exoticisms came from the market-place or from other tongues. Their sources were fair and false. But at bottom, there is the sincere desire to free modern literature from romantic sentiment, and artifice, to use words as directly and freely as in conversation.

[2]Here Apollinaire's frivolous playing with the language can scarcely be rendered. The original runs: "...en me réfugiant dans mon ou ma 'bedroom' du ou de la 'family house' ou j'étais descendue."

[3]Among these towns we may cite, Naples, Adrianople, Constantinople, Neauphle le-Chateau, Grenoble, Pultawa, Pouilly-en-Auxois, Pouilly-les-Fours, Nauplie, Seoul, Melbourne, Oran, Nazareth, Ermenonville, Nogent-sur-Marne, etc.

[4]Wilhelm de Kostrowitzki was baptized in Rome, September 29, 1880, at the Sacrosancta Patriarcalis Basilica Santa Mariae Maioris. His father is said to have been a high prelate of the Catholic Church.

[5]"Let the seven countries and four continents dispute the honor of his birthplace"—Mme de Kostrowitzka (who had never opened but one of his books, and found that "idiotic") exclaimed one day: "O Poland, thou wilt remember thy great son!"

[6]Apollinaire wrote to his friend André Billy: "Was I not too a master of rhymed verse?" This brief couplet, paraphrased from: Luth! Zut! marked a point of departure toward Calligrammes.

[7]This "absolute" poem, "freed from the restrictions of even language" may be profitably studied for its positive suggestions. The Dadaists, whose godfather Apollinaire was, took up this form with a passionate conviction that terrified the populace after the war. "Is not every art-theory, every school, only the triumph of an individual's taste, the imposition of a stronger mind upon the weaker ones?" Nonsense-poems, were the reductio ad absurdum of all literary artifice. The final word, the ultimate bankruptcy. Apollinaire's intense desire to negate literary precedent and to innovate, led through the stimulus of the Cubist painters to Calligrammes, which contains his calligraphic poetry. The typography is arranged most intricately, with regard to its pictural or abstract effect. Apollinaire hoped ultimately to unite poetry and painting, in fact his last critical writings in the Mercure de France are filled with amazing conjectures as to the future of art. The "poèmes conversations" of Calligrammes, as André Billy relates, may well have originated in the following manner: "He, Dupuy, and I are sitting at Crucifixe with three glasses of vermouth. Suddenly Guillaume bursts out laughing—he has completely forgotten to write the preface to Robert Delaunay's catalogue, which he promised to mail that evening. 'Quick waiter, pen and ink. Three of us will get through with this in a jiffy.' Guillaume's pen is off already: 'Of red and green all the yellow dies.' His pen stops. But Dupuy dictates: 'When the arras sing in our natal forests.' The pen starts off again transcribing faithfully. It is my turn: 'There is a poem to be written about the bird with but one wing.' A reminiscence from Alcools—the pen writes without a stop. 'A good thing to do if there is any hurry,' I said, 'would be to send your preface over the telephone.' And so the next line became: 'And we shall send this by the telephone.' I no longer remember all the details of this singular collaboration, but I can state that the preface to the catalogue of Robert Delaunay came out entire."

[8]This chapter is obviously written in an entirely different period. The Poet Assassinated, composes, if we choose to believe so, Apollinaire's vision of his own life. The book was collated from many fragments, many beginnings, and published in 1916, by "l'Édition," for the so-called "Librairie des Curieux." In the opening passage of this chapter part of the influences of the Cubist painters, and their inventions are particularly apparent.

[9]The theatre in France of the period immediately preceding the war is a sorry thing to relate. We will pass over Brieux, Hervieu, Battaille, Bernstein, to consider Donnay, Porto-Riche and their ilk. These worthies and their imitators achieved unparalleled financial and social triumphs by incorporating a certain intimate lewdness into their trivial drama. Their obvious theatrical machinery, which Apollinaire ridicules, has been as successfully adopted in this country and elsewhere in Europe, under the label of "modern drama."

[10]Mamamouchi is a character in Molière's play, le Bourgeois Gentilhomme, a dignitary whose sense of office is so strongly imbedded in him that he always enters shouting, "Je suis Mamamouchi!"

[11]François Coppée, this sentimental nineteenth century poet was amazingly popular, and truly French in his weaknesses, like the music of Massenet. Apollinaire takes grave liberties with him, out of sheer mischief.

[12]Archipel, archipelago, used in the sense of papier buvard (!) blotting paper! The disciples of Mallarmé went even farther than this.

[13]Tychobrahé, Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer (1546-1601). Although lord of a province in Scania, he took refuge in a monastery where he pursued his scientific researches. He settled in Prague, at the invitation of Emperor Rudolf II, and died there. Whether he ever really visited the monastery at Brünn is hard to judge.

[14]The number of prizes given for poetry and for other forms of literature has reached an even more disquieting figure since the war. Great publicity attends each award, and the publishers vie with each other in establishing such prizes. However, the lot of the true poet is as hard as ever, since it has become distinctly unfashionable to be the recipient of a prize.

[15]Paul Fort, Prince of Poets, he, of the broad-brimmed black hat, and the flowing scarf, frequented the Closérie des Lilas, with his band, whereas his avowed enemy, Apollinaire, and his far more disreputable cronies quartered themselves in the Café Rotonde, a short distance east along the Boulevard Montparnasse.

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