Apollinaire: Between the lyric and the adventure

December 20, 2018 Roger Gathmann 0

In this divide between the lyric and the adventure novel, Apollinaire’s work falls squarely on the latter side. The enclosed, introspective lyric is forever being cracked open by Apollinaire’s experience, one that rudely intrudes itself on introspection, bathes in it, is too openly delighted by the invention of forms to be comfortably formalist. The sign of this, especially prominent in  Calligrammes and The Murdered Poet is the preoccupation with the future as a matter of omens and oracles: the fight  between the two airplanes, one representing “my youth”, the other representing “the future“, in Les Collines, or, a sort of gnomic doctrine, the verse in On the Prophecies (a title reminiscent of Fontenelle’s On the Oracles, a key text in the Enlightenment demystification of the world):

Everyone is a prophet my dear André Billy

But for a long time they have made people believe

That they have no future that they will never ever know

And idiots from birth

We have taken this side and nobody even thinks

Of asking if they know the future or not