Apollinaire’s Calligrammes & Metrical Conclusions

[Guillaume Apollinaire ( 1880-1918) by Picasso]

Continuing from yesterday

AG: … Then. Willliam Apollinaire (Guillaume Apollinaire), the Frenchman also did Calligrammes (so that would be.. the French name for that form is a calligramme – design on the page). He has one called “il pleut” which is …   “From the eaves… ” –  From..  (F-r-o-m. t-h-e-e-a-v-e-s -t-h-e-g-l-i-s-t-e-n-i-n-g-d-r-o-p-s -o-f -w-a-t-e-r-f-a-l-l-o-v-e-r – t-h-e-w-h-o-l-e-c-i-t-y) –  I don’t know  [Allen offers a translation] – “From the eaves the glistening raindrops falls down and drains over the whole city”.  You know and it’s all..  the lines are let down in strings from the top of the page.

[Editorial note – from Ron Padgett’s translation – “It’s raining the voices of women as if they were dead even in memory”/it’s also raining you marvelous encounters of my life O droplets/and these rearing clouds start neighing an entire world of auricular town/listen to the falling ties that bind you from above and below”]

Then he has… On his gravestone he has a little poem called “La Couer Renversée”  (“The Overturned Heart”). it’s inside his gravestone and it’s a heart upside-down, one of his poems. So his book is called Calligrammes. There’s whole schools of poetry that have arisen out of (that) – visual poetry, you know,  where the typographical, typography of the page makes the kick.


[Mon Cœur pareil à une flamme renversée – My heart like an inverted flame]

In (George Herbert’s) “Easter Wings”  you might notice the syllabic count is what determines the size (if you want to know, it’s 10-8-6-4-4-2-2-4-6-8-10 (2-4-6-8-10). – 4-8-6-2… 10-8-6-4-2 and then, reversed, 2-4-6-8-10 syllables per line, that’s how he arranges it, simple-minded, no big mystery – but his rhymes – “store/same/more/became/poore/thee.. – “store/more/poore”,  “same/became”,   “thee/harmoniously/me”,   “rise/victories” –   So it’s four rhymes altogether. I guess “store/same/more/became/poore/. thee/rise/harmoniously/victories/me”.  “beginne/shame/sinne/became thinne/. thee/combine/.victorie/thine/me”   so that’s easy

[Alfred Noyes (1880-1958)]

How are you doing on your assignment to write a classical quatrain? I mean classical tetrameter – Has everybody got their homework in on that? Is there anybody lacking? unfinished?  [some students indicate they haven’t yet done it] -oh, well, do it, please, it’s interesting.

I was thinking on the way here, actually, I think one does have to train the ear to syllables, to quantities, and to stress, one-by-one, in order to develop sensitivity to them and. then you can forget your training because it’s built into your body. But, unless you have that actual exercise, I don’t think you can begin to order spontaneous(ly) in free verse, maybe. Maybe.. It may be that the attempt to order, to make logical orders out of spontaneous verse, would then (make one) be more adept at doing rhyme, syllable, quantity, and stress or count (or maybe, that my own training was in doing the rhymes and the syllables and the..) – Rhymes and stress.

Then I learned syllables, and later I learned quantity – (actually, the order of the progression was that I knew rhymes, I knew meters and I, later…)  So I knew stress-meters, and I knew iambic, trochaic, and I knew anapest and dactyl, and that’s all I knew – that’s it,  for about forty years  (and that’s all my father knew, and he taught this stuff! – they never went.. they never go beyond those four).

However, when I started writing, with all that training, say, knowing, say,  (Edgar Allan) Poe‘s “Raven“,, or, “Come down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac time, in lilac time/Come down to Kew in lilac-time, it’s oh so near to London / And we will wander hand in hand with love in summer’s wonderland/Come down to Kew in lilac-time, it’s oh so near to London” – That’s Alfred Noyes “The Barrel Organ” – The Barrel Organ.. “The Barrel Organ..carolling along..?”-

It begins  “When the barrel-organ..”.. Barrel-organ”…. “The  barrel-organ carolling along the London street”.. – “I heard a barrel-organ carolling along the London street…And the music icof it. da-da da-da da-da  sweet – and,  da-da da-da da-da da this is what it heard and  da-da da-da da  word”

[Editorial note – the actual beginning of the poem goes as follows – “There’s a barrel-organ carolling across a golden street/ In the City as the sun sinks low;/And the music’s not immortal; but the world has made it sweet/And fulfilled it with the sunset glow” – and the musical line that Allen remembers – “Come down to Kew in lilac-time, in lilac-time, in lilac time;/Come down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!”…”And you shall wander hand and hand with love in summer’s wonderland;/ Come down to Kew in lilac-time (it isn’t far from London!) ]

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately ninety minutes in and concluding at the end of the tape]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *