July 8, 2015
Léon-Paul Fargue [France]
Born in Paris on March 4, 1876, Léon-Paul Fargue began writing at the turn of the 20th century works of poetry and essays and studies of Paris, the latter best represented by his D’après Paris (1931) and Le piéton de Paris of 1939, but from the beginning of his career, his books were dedicated to capturing Parisian scenes.
Even before the age of 19, Fargue had already published in L’Art littéraire, his most important poem Tancrède appearing in the magazine Pan in 1895.
Fargue was an ardent opponent of the French Surrealists, and was drawn, in his opposition, to the Symbolist poetry group, particularly that connected with Le Mercure. Rilke, Joyce and others argued that he was at the forefront of modern poetry. Paul Valéry described Fargue as “one of our greatest poets.”
In the 1920s Fargue edited the influential magazine Commerce.
Fargue was a close friend to several major figures, including the composer Maurice Ravel— about who Fargue penned a book of recollections—Georges Auric and novelist and essayist Paul Morand. Ravel also set one of Fargue’s poems, “Rèves,” to music in 1927. With Ravel, Stravinsky, and Manuel de Falla, Fargue was also a member of the musicians and writers called Les Apaches.
In 1943, while lunching with Pablo Picasso, Fargue was struck by paralysis, and was forced to give his street wanderings, living at the studio of his wife Cheriane at 1 Boulevard Montparnasse.
Fargue died on November 24, 1947, and was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery.
BOOKS OF POETRY
Poèmes (Paris: Editions de la Nouvelle revue Française 1905); Nocturnes (1905); Tancrède (1911); Pour la musique (Paris: Editions de la Nouvelle revue Française, 1912); Banalité (Paris: Editions de la Nouvelle revue Française, 1928); Vaulturne (1928); Epaisseurs (1929); Sous la lamp (1929); Loading ion (1930)
For a translation of several poems by Fargue by Kenneth Rexroth, go here: