Le Faune - (2001)
for high voice and piano
Un vieux faune de terre cuite
Rit au centre des boulingrins,
Présageant sans doute une suite
Mauvaise à ces instants sereins
Qui m'ont conduit et t'ont conduite
Jusqu'à cette heure dont la fuite
Tournoie au son des tambourins.
Paul Verlaine (1844-1896) formed, with Stéphane Mallarmé and Charles Baudelaire, the so-called Decadents. He was a leader of the Symbolist movement in poetry, whose unfortunate life style is said to have wavered between "criminality and naive innocence."
Jailed for eighteen months for trying to shoot the younger poet Arthur Rimbaud after an affair with him while married, Verlaine had a violent temper, once attacked his wife, Mathilde Mauté de Fleurville, and was reported to have hurled his infant son Georges against a wall. Late in an unhappy life, he was for long periods in public hospitals, continued to drink, slept in slums, and spent another month in prison. He suffered from rheumatism, cirrhosis, gastritis, jaundice, diabetes, and cardiac hypertrophy. Verlaine's life style started to attract reluctant admiration, his early collections of poetry were rediscovered and in 1894 he was elected France's Prince of Poets, after the death of Leconte de Lisle. Verlaine died in Paris two years later, at the age of 52, on January 8, 1896. His funeral was a public event, with thousands of Parisians following the casket to the Batignolles cemetery. Despite his fame, Verlaine died in poverty.
In Verlaine's works two impressions predominate: that only self is important, and that the function of poetry is to preserve moments of extreme sensation and unique impressions. In spite of the 'vagueness' of his poetry, Verlaine evidenced careful craftsmanship in his compositions, using simple, musical language. He maintained the outward form of classical poetry, but his work opened the way for free verse.
The score is available as a free PDF download, though any major commercial performance or recording of the work is prohibited without prior arrangement with the composer. Click on the graphic below for this piano-vocal score.