154.1: Max Jacob:: Poem in a Style that Isn’t Mine & Poem in a Style that Isn’t Mine & Marcel Proust
30 September 2013
In Marcel Proust's Swann's Way, the Narrator remembers preparing his aunt's tisane, or herbal tea, when she feels unwell. The tisane package comes from a local chemist and contains dried lime-blossoms. These blossoms must be infused with boiling water to flavor the tea. This week, Andy Nicholson returns to TOA with a selection of translations from Max Jacob's The Dice Cup written in styles not his own, including the style of Marcel Proust. Like the tisane episode, Jacob encounters a dessicated trellis of language—the dried pages of well-known Francophone authors—and infuses this trellis with his own language and humor. Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Marcel Proust—each of these authors inspire a particular poem in this selection and each could be said to traverse the rhetorical limits of poetry and prose: Rimbaud and Baudelaire are as famous for their prose poems as they are their lineated poems; Proust's unparalleled imagery is nothing short of poetry in prose. Readers will delight in the allusiveness of "For you, Rimbaud," the humorous and profound dialogue of "For you, Baudelaire," and the sudden imagistic effect of "Marcel Proust." Each of these entries writes to the past knowing what Proust knew: that with a little water, the dried lime-blossoms will flower again.