A Romance of Youth

Francois Coppée
Romance of Youth, Complete, by
Francois Coppee

Project Gutenberg's A Romance of Youth, Complete, by Francois
Coppee This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and
with almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away
or re-use it under the terms of the Project Gutenberg License included
with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net
Title: A Romance of Youth, Complete
Author: Francois Coppee
Release Date: October 4, 2006 [EBook #3962]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ASCII

Produced by David Widger


With a Preface by JOSE DE HEREDIA, of the French Academy

January 12, 1842. His father was a minor 'employe' in the French War
Office; and, as the family consisted of six the parents, three daughters,
and a son (the subject of this essay)--the early years of the poet were
not spent in great luxury. After the father's death, the young man
himself entered the governmental office with its monotonous work. In
the evening he studied hard at St. Genevieve Library. He made rhymes,
had them even printed (Le Reliquaire, 1866); but the public remained
indifferent until 1869, when his comedy in verse, 'Le Passant', appeared.
From this period dates the reputation of Coppee--he woke up one
morning a "celebrated man."
Like many of his countrymen, he is a poet, a dramatist, a novelist, and a
writer of fiction. He was elected to the French Academy in 1884.
Smooth shaven, of placid figure, with pensive eyes, the hair brushed
back regularly, the head of an artist, Coppee can be seen any day
looking over the display of the Parisian secondhand booksellers on the
Quai Malaquais; at home on the writing-desk, a page of carefully
prepared manuscript, yet sometimes covered by cigarette-ashes; upon
the wall, sketches by Jules Lefebvre and Jules Breton; a little in the
distance, the gaunt form of his attentive sister and companion, Annette,
occupied with household cares, ever fearful of disturbing him. Within
this tranquil domicile can be heard the noise of the Parisian faubourg
with its thousand different dins; the bustle of the street; the clatter of a
factory; the voice of the workshop; the cries of the pedlers intermingled
with the chimes of the bells of a near-by convent-a confusing buzzing
noise, which the author, however, seems to enjoy; for Coppee is
Parisian by birth, Parisian by education, a Parisian of the Parisians.
If as a poet we contemplate him, Coppee belongs to the group
commonly called "Parnassiens"--not the Romantic School, the
sentimental lyric effusion of Lamartine, Hugo, or De Musset! When the

poetical lute was laid aside by the triad of 1830, it was taken up by men
of quite different stamp, of even opposed tendencies. Observation of
exterior matters was now greatly adhered to in poetry; it became
especially descriptive and scientific; the aim of every poet was now to
render most exactly, even minutely, the impressions received, or
faithfully to translate into artistic language a thesis of philosophy, a
discovery of science. With such a poetical doctrine, you will easily
understand the importance which the "naturalistic form" henceforth
Coppee, however, is not only a maker of verses, he is an artist and a
poet. Every poem seems to have sprung from a genuine inspiration.
When he sings, it is because he has something to sing about, and the
result is that his poetry is nearly always interesting. Moreover, he
respects the limits of his art; for while his friend and contemporary, M.
Sully-Prudhomme, goes astray habitually into philosophical
speculation, and his immortal senior, Victor Hugo, often declaims, if
one may venture to say so, in a manner which is tedious, Coppee sticks
rigorously to what may be called the proper regions of poetry.
Francois Coppee is not one of those superb high priests disdainful of
the throng: he is the poet of the "humble," and in his work, 'Les
Humbles', he paints with a sincere emotion his profound sympathy for
the sorrows, the miseries, and the sacrifices of the meek. Again, in his
'Grave des Forgerons, Le Naufrage, and L'Epave', all poems of great
extension and universal reputation, he treats of simple existences, of
unknown unfortunates, and of sacrifices which the daily papers do not
record. The coloring and designing are precise, even if the tone be
somewhat sombre, and nobody will deny that Coppee most fully
possesses the technique of French poetry.
But Francois Coppee is known to fame as a prosewriter, too. His
'Contes en prose' and his 'Vingt Contes Nouveaux' are gracefully and
artistically told; scarcely one of the 'contes' fails to have a moral motive.
The stories are
Continue reading on your phone by scaning this QR Code

 / 85
Tip: The current page has been bookmarked automatically. If you wish to continue reading later, just open the Dertz Homepage, and click on the 'continue reading' link at the bottom of the page.