An analytical exercise by Euler L.

By Euler L.

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The other two are 42 sonnets, no less finely balanced between intensity of lyric utterance and refinement of prosodic craft. The challenge in the first poem, ‘Le Balcon’, arises from the selfenclosed, symmetrical structure of each stanza: Mère des souvenirs, maîtresse des maîtresses, O toi, tous mes plaisirs! ô toi, tous mes devoirs! Tu te rappeleras la beauté des caresses, La douceur du foyer et le charme des soirs, Mêre des souvenirs, maîtresses des maîtresses! [Mother of memories, mistress of mistresses, / O you, all my pleasures!

The close contact between Debussy and Ernest Chausson, whose Poème de l’amour et la mer appeared on the same programme, led to a significant deepening of their friendship. Over somewhat more than a year, dozens of letters would testify to the importance of a relationship which, though never attaining the intimacy of a tutoiement, was to prove a crucial support during difficult times. In the weeks following the Damoiselle premiere Debussy, who had not yet abandoned Rodrigue et Chimène, took part in another of Mendès’s wagnériste projects.

61 In the same questionnaire, Debussy singled out Flaubert and Poe as prose authors; Palestrina, Bach and Wagner as composers. But in response to the question about favourite poets he gave only one name: Baudelaire. This response reflects the centrality to his thought, from late 1887 to early 1889, of the monumentally grand Cinq Poèmes de Charles Baudelaire, a set of five songs on poems selected from the infamous collection Les Fleurs du mal. 62 Debussy set his seal to this association when, having secured a limited-edition publication through the owner of an occult bookshop, Edmond Bailly, he dedicated the songs to Étienne Dupin – a sponsor of the edition and also of his first trip to Bayreuth in 1888.

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