Verlaine Dreaming in a Paris Café
In 2016, Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. During various interviews over his long career, Dylan cites numerous literary influences that informed his songwriting art through the decades. One poet that Dylan has cited is the French Symbolist poet, Paul Verlaine. Indeed, Dylan names Verlaine in the lyrics of his classic 1974 song, “You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go.” Verlaine’s poetry provided inspiration and lyrics for several composers. (Gabriel Faure, Renaldo Hahn, Poldowki, Debussy.) Most well known is Claude Debussy’s Clair de lune. Paul Verlaine lived the bohemian lifestyle in every aspect of his colorful literary career and life. In this painting he is swept up in a daydream reverie. One detail of note in this painting; the glass and carafe on his café table. Verlaine’s drink of choice was the aromatic, herbal, slightly hallucinogenic alcoholic spirit, Absinthe. Absinthe is tightly interwoven in the music, art and café society of the bohemian experience in Paris. Because of the slightly hallucinogenic effects of the the chemical compound thujone in this spirit, it was banned in the USA from 1917 until 2007. Since 2007, over 200 brands of Absinthe produced in Europe and the US have come onto the market. Absinthe that is currently legal and available in the USA has a low content of thujone.
My desire conjured, where the gold roofs soar to music’s strains.
Where fragrances entice, endless harems, bodily paradise. –Paul Verlain