MALLARMÉ, Stéphane.

Vers de circonstances, 4 original manuscript envelope poems.

[c.1885] Stock Code: 135697
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A superb set of four manuscript postal poems penned by Mallarmé, three on envelopes, in lieu of the address and containing all usual and necessary information, to his friend and first cousin once removed, the French novelist Victor Margueritte (1866-1942), and one addressed to himself.

All four of these autograph poetical postal jests were published in a posthumous collection of Mallarmé's gathered "circumstantial verses," Vers de Circonstance (1920), which notes that English translation "this publication is to the postal services' credit. None of the addresses in verse reproduced here have missed their recipient. The poet adds that he got the idea because of the obvious connection between the size of envelopes and the arrangement of a quatrain - out of sheer aesthetic feeling" (p. 3). This was paraphrased from the preface to the choice of quatrains published by Mallarmé in the Chicago Chap-Book of 1894.

The poems are:

1. "Poëtes, troupe disparue! / Victor Margueritte est l'un d'eux: / Il habite à ses heures rue / Bellechasse, Quarante-deux," Poets, disappeared company! / Victor Margueritte is one of them: / he lives at his hours on street / Bellechasse, Forty-two. This was changed to "Poètes, race disparue / Victor Margueritte, l'un d'eux / Il loge chez sa maman rue / Bellechasse, quarante-deux" Poets, disappeared race! / Victor Margueritte one of them: / he stays at his mummy's street / Bellechasse, Forty-two in the printed version (Vers de Circonstances XXV).

2. "Victor Margueritte (on t'enjoint, / Poste, de le prendre en ta nasse) / Rue... est-ce Bellepêche? point; / Mais, quarante-deux, Bellechasse" Victor Margueritte (we enjoin you / Postal services, to take him in your fish-trap) / Street... is it Beautifulfishing? no; / But, forty-two, Beautifulhunting (Vers de Circonstances XXVIII).

3. "Là-bas! numéro cinq, à Sèvres, / Reste donc rue ohé! Brongniart / A claquer tes menteuses fièvres, / Victor Margueritte, cagnard" Over there! number five, at Sèvres, / Stay thus on street hey! Brongniart / Slapping your fibbing fevers, / Victor Margueritte, dodger (Vers de Circonstances XXVII).

4. This last one, addressed to himself: "Monsieur Mallarmé. Le Pervers / A nous fuir, pour les bois, s'acharne; / O Poste, suis sa trace vers / Valvins, par Avon, Seine-et-Marne." (Vers de Circonstances CXXXI). This one is usually found with "ma lettre" instead of the "O Poste" present here. It was translated by Ross Chambers in his Room for Maneuver, Reading (the) Oppositional (in) Narrative (1991) as "Monsieur Mallarmé. Wrong-headedly / He insists on fleeing us for the woods / My letter here 'O postal services', follow his tracks toward / Valvins, via Avon, Seine-et-Marne".

Enclosed with each poem is a cutting of their printed version, sometimes with or as their sale description, and with a collage of pp. 3-4 and the title of Vers de Circonstances.

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4 autograph quatrains in French: 3 on stamped and franked envelopes (approx. 100 x 130 mm) made of English paper watermarked "Original Stair's Mill", and 1 on a simple sheet of paper (125 x 100 mm).


Very light dust and finger-soiling, a little toned, else fresh and legible; a very good set indeed.


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