Thursday, 18 June 2009


Émile Nelligan born in Montreal in 1879..
In 1896, published some of his first poems under the pseudonym "Émile Kovar." influenced by French poets as Verlaine and Baudelaire. His poems were unique and almost revolutionary in Quebec where patriotic and Romantic poetry reigned. He stressed the subjective impression, the power of words and the music of language. He wrote about nostalgia and melancholy, and the conflicts of being a poet.
In 1897, Nelligan joined the École littéraire de Montréal, a literary movement that sought to break free from the restrictive style of poetry that was so dominant in Quebec. At around this time, Nelligan's father tried to send him off to England as a Merchant Marine, unhappy with his son's choice of vocation. Nelligan continued to publish poems in local journals, and in 1898, he was readmitted into the École littéraire de Montréal, where he would often read his poems to the gathered crowd. In 1899, however, he was confined to an asylum due to mental illness. He died there in 1941.
In 1903, although only 23 of his poems had been published, Nelligan's friend Louis Dantin and his mother collected 107 poems and published them as Émile Nelligan et son oeuvre. .
Depressed, inward-looking, sometimes closed in his small room on the second floor of 260 Avenue Laval, sometimes walking in the city center, Nelligan likes to attend Bonsecours walked and Jacques-Cartier, if stops at a church. We know few women in his entourage (Edith Larrivée, Idola Saint-Jean or Barry Robertine). It would, they say, lived a pastoral idyll with a Swiss German in the fall of 1895, but we do not know much, the same mystery surrounds some Gretchen in 1897. Women at Nelligan, sometimes real, sometimes fictional (artist, apparition, mythic allusion, negress lointaine) is beautifully embedded in the imagination. And above all the world dreams of love reflected in his poems, the portrait of his mother and the plans of St. Cecilia's fear of loving.

St. Cecilia" by John William Waterhouse (1895)
The Gold Vessel Le Vaisseau d’Or
Translated from the French by Loup Kibiloki

It was a massive Ship carved out of solid Gold,
Its masts reaching azure, she sailed on unknown
With Aphrodite of love spreadeagled at the prow,
hair dishevelled and naked under excessive sun.
But it came that a night the ship struck the great reef
On treacherous Ocean where the Siren was heard.
The horrible shipwreck tilted the hull aslant
Deep down the abyss depth, immutable coffin.
It was a Gold Vessel. Her diaphanous sides
were revealing treasures that the secular crew,
Disgust and Neurosis, and Hatred, fought over.
What’s left of it under the brief abating storm?
What became of my heart, empty deserted ship?
Alas, it has sunk down in the abyss of Dream.


achab said...

bello il tuo post complimenti,ciao.

Loup Kibiloki said...

Thanks for posting my translation of Nelligan's Le Vaisseau d'Or (The Gold Vessel)

Ciao -

Loup Kibiloki :)