Paris, Alphonse Lemerre, 1870.
16mo [159 x 92 mm] of (3) ll., 38 pp., (2) ll. Bound in full red morocco, spine ribbed, inner gilt fillets, gilt over untrimmed edges, cream printed wrappers and spine bound in. Binding signed by Canape.
Rare and sought-after first edition of this collection of poems by Verlaine published at the author’s own expense and printed in 590 copies.
Carteret, II, 418; Clouzot, p. 267; Bibliothèque de Backer, 2211.
Last work issued on Lemerre’s press, published at the author’s own expense during the 1870-1871 winter siege, its offering for sale was delayed.
“550 copies were printed and furthermore 10 copies on China paper, 10 on Whatman paper and 20 on Dutch paper. The usual edition bears on the back: 2 francs, it has the same size as the first edition of ‘Fêtes galantes’ (9 x 16), but printed on tinted vellum paper.
‘Fêtes galantes” and ‘La Bonne Chanson’ were published at the author’s own expense, and this last collection of poems, composed for his fiancé Ms. Mathilde Mauté de Fleurville, was judged this way by Leconte de Lisle on the eve of the war: ‘ Your verses are charming, they breathe the happy rest of the mind and the quiet fullness of the heart.’” (Carteret, II, 418).
“These poems, that were inspired by his engagement with Mathilde Mauté de Fleurville, express the happiness and affection of the poet for the creature that is about to come into his life: the author rediscovers, in all its purity, the charm of creation. By celebrating the beauty of his fiancé, the beauty of her smile and her kisses (« La lune blanche »), the artist expresses in a delicate shiver, the thoughtful love he has for daily life («Le bruit des cabarets »). His inspiration is linked to his impending wedding, so well that this collection of poems has something happy and easy: each emotion is resolved in a light, sentimental music. Alongside these lyrical effusions, we notice kind descriptive poems, some spontaneous and fresh observations reminiscent of the first manner of the author, while still faithful to the principle of Parnassians.” Dictionnaire des Œuvres, I, 481.
La Bonne Chanson gathers 21 poems composed by love for his beloved and promise, Mathilde Mauté de Fleurville, half-sister of Charles de Sivry, composer and friend of the author.
This collection of poems is highly symbolic for the poet as these poems were born at the peak of their happiness. Celebrated two months after the publication of this collection of poems, their union will be soon spoiled by Paul Verlaine’s alcoholism, in addition to his tumultuous relationship with Arthur Rimbaud.
“This collection of poems, compared by Victor Hugo to “a flower in a shell [une fleur dans un obus]” (it was published in 1870 during the siege of Paris), was Verlaine’s favorite work and considered by him as the most natural work he ever did”. (B. Mońkiewicz, Verlaine, Critique littéraire, p. 28).
A beautiful copy of this collection of poems by Verlaine, preserved in its elegant morocco binding with its cream printed wrappers bound in.