Airair - Illustration du poème Voyelles d'Arthur Rimbaud (Poster) - de Wikimedia Commons

Airair – Illustration du poème Voyelles d’Arthur Rimbaud (Poster) – de Wikimedia Commons


A noir, E blanc, I rouge, U vert, O bleu : voyelles,
Je dirai quelque jour vos naissances latentes :
A, noir corset velu des mouches éclatantes
Qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles,

Golfes d’ombre ; E, candeurs des vapeurs et des tentes,
Lances des glaciers fiers, rois blancs, frissons d’ombelles ;
I, pourpres, sang craché, rire des lèvres belles
Dans la colère ou les ivresses pénitentes ;

U, cycles, vibrements divins des mers virides,
Paix des pâtis semés d’animaux, paix des rides
Que l’alchimie imprime aux grands fronts studieux ;

O, suprême Clairon plein des strideurs étranges,
Silences traversés des Mondes et des Anges :
— O l’Oméga, rayon violet de Ses Yeux !

Arthur Rimbaud, Voyelles
(Édition Le Livre de Poche)

Today is the first anniversary of Agapeta. Since I first reviewed the blog’s history six months ago, the layout and visual style of the blog has not much changed: I customized the left-hand menu, I added an image to some old posts, and inserted in each post except very short ones a “more tag” (so that only the beginning of the post appears on the archive), which makes browsing archives faster.

Among the Hawai‘ians, sex was and remains a rich source of humor and enjoyment. In everyday conversation and in song and story, it was considered to be an “art form” to speak using sexual double entendres (kaona). One well-known folk song, still sung, uses the vowels as erotic expressions; their elongated sounds are highly sexual: aaaaaaa, eeeeeee, iiiiiii, ooooooo, uuuuuuu (Johnson, 1983).
Milton Diamond, Sexual Behavior in Pre Contact Hawai‘i: A Sexological Ethnography, Revista Española del Pacifico (2004), Vol. 16, pp. 37–58.

The impact of the blog is slowly growing, with more than 50 followers, and 10 000 hits reached on January the 2nd. The frequency of posts has diminished; one reason is that I have used most of the poems I wanted to share when I started, and finding other interesting poems is a lot of work. However, the main factor is that on November the 1st I was promoted Associate Editor of Pigtails in Paint.

Most popular posts and pages: Concerning the number of views of posts and pages, WordPress statistics are complicated to interpret, since not all views are taken into account, and indeed sometimes a posts gets a higher count of “Likes” or Facebook shares than of views. Anyway, the most popular remains the Links page, but at least viewing it has become more rewarding, since I have much expanded its contents. The page About Agapeta went down from second to third in the hit list, as a relatively recent post won a huge and sustained success: Components of Love. Next come three posts devoted to girls. As before, the little Erotion loved by the Latin Poet Marcus Valerius Martialis remains the most successful. Far behind come Clair Mills loved by the singer Gilbert O’Sullivan and Eva, the robot girl played by Claudia Vega in a film directed by Kike Maíllo.

I have noticed that illustrating a post with images of girls increases the number of views, and with a nude girl even more. For instance, both poets William Blake and Fabian Strachan Woodley have their work discussed in two posts, and each time the one with a scholarly discussion is not the more successful, you can guess why. In his book The Autumn of the Middle Ages, the historian Johan Huizinga noticed that in France and Burgundy during the 15th century, painting reached its perfection in a harmony of a general thematic scene with minute background details, while most of poetry—even the one celebrated at that time—had become conventional and overloaded with details. He interpreted this fact as a feature of the decline of the Middle Ages: the predominance of the sense of sight, closely linked to the atrophy of thought. Thus the contemporary seduction of striking images at the expense of textual contents could also indicate an atrophy of thought in a declining social organization. Read also the opinion by Iran’s “blogfather” on the demise of intelligent Internet use in the era of social media.

The highest number of “Likes” given by WordPress readers to a post or page is 8, it was obtained by Sonnets of a Little Girl, I (one early poem by Ernest Dowson) and by Flowers of love in William Blake’s Songs of Experience.

As before, the page Guidelines for comments and contributions is much less successful than Links and About Agapeta, while the new page Help needed for my search fares even worse. This is consistent with the small number of non-spam comments and the absence of any contribution or proposal submitted by readers.

Best countries: As always, the four countries with the highest number of views are (in order): the USA, France, the UK and Germany, with the first two countries providing more than half of the readership.

More statistics can be found in the Agapeta 2015 Annual Report made by WordPress, but there are slight inaccuracies in it.

Henk Lindeboom / Fotocollectie Anefo – Arrival of Minou Drouet and her mother at Amsterdam Central Station (3 november 1960) – from Nationaal Archief (Netherlands)

A French child poetess: Several recent posts have been devoted to Hilda Conkling, an American girl who started composing poetry at age 4 and stopped doing it as a teenager. I recently discovered Minou (Marie-Noëlle) Drouet, a French girl born in 1947, who started writing poems at age 6; some of her letters and poems were published by René Julliard in a small edition in 1955 (when she was then 8 years old), and she soon became a literary star and the object of a controversy. Fascinating details about her early life—from a nearly blind and seemingly autistic child, diagnosed as mentally retarded, to a sudden genius—can be found in French on Wikipédia and Blog de lierre (aujourdhui.com) and in English in Charles Templeton’s An Anecdotal Memoir (the story starts somewhere in the middle). Many documents about her (photos, videos, articles, links, poems, etc.) can be found on poetesses.fr. Her poem “Arbre, mon ami” can be read in Storytelling aziendale; it is also the title of the first volume of her poems, published in 1957.

Hans-André Stamm has posted on YouTube the above video of the old Occitan song Lo boièr (The cattle herder), and he transcribed the lyrics under the video:

Can lou bouyè ben de laoura / Planto soun agulhado.
Troubo sa femno al pè del foc / Touto déscounsoulado
“Se ‘n es malaouto digas oc / Te faren un poutadzé
Amb uno rabo un caoulét / Uno laouzéto magro”
“Quan séraï morto rébound mé / Al pus pirou de la cabo
Méttras mous pès à la parét / Lou cap jous la canèlo
E lous roumious que passaran / Prendran d’aïgo ségnado
E diran: ‘Cal es mort aïci / Es la paouro Joana
Que ‘n es anado al paradis / Al cèl ambé sas cabros’”

Each of the nine verses is in two parts, and is sung by repeating each part, and inserting “A-E-I-O-U” between the repetitions of the second part:

First part / First part / Second part / A-E-I-O-U / Second part

I improve here the English translation given by Stamm:

When the herdsman comes back from tilling / Plants his goad
Finds his wife at the foot of fire / Wholly unconsoled
“If you’re sick say yes / We will make you a soup
With a turnip, a cabbage / A lean lark (*)
“When I will be dead bury me / Deepest in the cellar
You will put my feet against the wall / The head under the tap
And the pilgrims who will pass / Will take the holy water
And will say ‘Who died here? / It is the poor Joan
Who went to paradise / To heaven with her goats.’”

(*) Another possible translation is “lean bacon”.

There are several variants of the text and melody, corresponding to various regions of Southern France. See also Wikipédia, Cathares.org and the Ventenac Cabardès site for other variants of the text.

This song is strange, as it combines a slow and melancholic music with lyrics that seem ludicrous (the man wants to console his dying wife with a soup, she goes to heaven with her goats) and evoke a drinking song (the woman wishes to be buried the head under the tap, from which pilgrims also will drink). Moreover, the mysterious repetition of the motto “A-E-I-O-U” adds more oddness. So several authors have suggested that it has a secret meaning, in particular Gérard de Sède analysed it as a coded expression of the persecuted Cathar faith.

Anyway, the contrast between the lyrics and the music invites many interpretations, in particular in terms of a conflict between the baseness of everyday life in existing society and the spiritual aspirations of the soul.

Sources: title image from Wikimedia Commons; poem Voyelles from Wikisource; photograph of Minou Drouet from Wikimedia Commons.


2 thoughts on “Voyelles

  1. Etrange… Le poème “Voyelles” fait partie des grands classiques, dans les recueils de textes de la littérature française à l’usage des lycéens… et pourtant… mis à part bien entendu le tout premier vers, connu de tous, je ne me souvenais pas qu’il fût question, dans la suite du poème de “mouches qui bombinent autour des puanteurs cruelles…” Ce réalisme assez cru est assez éloigné des papillons et des petits oiseaux qui gazouillent… Mon “Lagarde et Michard” aurait-il fait l’impasse sur ce passage, pour le remplacer par quelque strophe davantage “ad usum delphini” ?… Il faudra que je vérifie ça un jour prochain…


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