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Émile Nelligan

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Emile Nelligan

Emile Nelligan (1879-1941). Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


Émile Nelligan (December 24, 1879 – November 18, 1941) was a French Canadian poet from Quebec.

LifeEdit

Nelligan was born in Montreal on Christmas Eve, 1879, at 602, rue de La Gauchetière(Citation needed). He was the first son of David Nelligan, who arrived in Quebec from Dublin, Ireland at the age of 12. His mother was Émilie Amanda Hudon, from Rimouski, Quebec. He had two sisters, Eva and Gertrude.

A follower of Symbolism, his poetry was profoundly influenced by Octave Crémazie, Louis Fréchette, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Georges Rodenbach, Maurice Rollinat and Edgar Allan Poe. A precocious talent like Arthur Rimbaud, his first poems were published in Montreal when he was 16 years old.

In 1899, Nelligan suffered a major psychotic breakdown from which he never recovered. He never had a chance to finish his first poetry work which was to be entitled Le Récital des Anges according to his last notes.

At the time, rumor and speculation was that he went insane because of the vast cultural and language differences between his mother and father; however, recent literary analysts and biographers think his difficulties might have been related to homosexuality.

In 1903, his collected poems were published to great acclaim in Canada. He may not have been aware that he was counted among French Canada's greatest poets.

On his passing in 1941, Émile Nelligan was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal, Quebec. Following his death, the public became increasingly interested in Nelligan. His incomplete work spawned a kind of romantic legend. He was first translated to English in 1960 by P.F. Widdows. In 1983, Fred Cogswell translated all his poems in The Complete Poems of Émile Nelligan.

Émile Nelligan is considered one of the greatest poets of French Canada. Several schools and libraries in Quebec are named after him and Hotel Nelligan is a four-star hotel in Old Montreal at the corner of Rue St. Paul and Rue St. Sulpice.

Le Vaisseau d'OrEdit

File:Émile Nelligan (bust), parc Square Saint-Louis, Montréal 2005-10-21.jpg

C'était un grand Vaisseau taillé dans l'or massif:
Ses mâts touchaient l'azur, sur des mers inconnues;
La Cyprine d'amour, cheveux épars, chairs nues,
S'étalait à sa proue, au soleil excessif.

Mais il vint une nuit frapper le grand écueil
Dans l'Océan trompeur où chantait la Sirène,
Et le naufrage horrible inclina sa carène
Aux profondeurs du Gouffre, immuable cercueil.

Ce fut un Vaisseau d'Or, dont les flancs diaphanes
Révélaient des trésors que les marins profanes,
Dégoût, Haine et Névrose, entre eux ont disputés.

Que reste-t-il de lui dans la tempête brève?
Qu'est devenu mon coeur, navire déserté?
Hélas! Il a sombré dans l'abîme du Rêve!

Christ en CroixEdit

Je remarquais toujours ce grand Jésus de plâtre
Dressé comme un pardon au seuil du vieux couvent,
Échafaud solennel à geste noir, devant
Lequel je me courbais, saintement idolâtre.

Or, l'autre soir, à l'heure où le cri-cri folâtre,
Par les prés assombris, le regard bleu rêvant,
Récitant Eloa, les cheveux dans le vent,
Comme il sied à l'Éphèbe esthétique et bellâtre,

J'aperçus, adjoignant des débris de parois,
Un gigantesque amas de lourde vieille croix
Ed de plâtre écroulé parmi les primevères ;

Et je restai là, morne, avec les yeux pensifs,
Et j'entendais en moi des marteaux convulsifs
Renfoncer les clous noirs des intimes Calvaires !

Translation by Konrad Bongard

The gypsum Jesus always stalled me in my steps
Like a curse at the old convent door;
Crouching meekly, I bend to exalt an idol
Whose forgiveness I do not implore.

Not long ago, at the crickets' hour, I roamed dim
Meadows in a restful reverie
Reciting 'Eloa', with my hair worn by the wind
And no audience save for the trees.

But now, as I lie with knees bent beneath Christ's scaffold,
I see his crumbling mortar cross
With its plaster buried in the roses, and am saddened -

For if I listen close enough, I can almost hear
The sound of coal-black nails being wrung in
To his wrists, the savage piercing of Longinus' spear.

Recognition Edit

Nelligan Quebec

Emile Nelligan monument in Quebec City. Photo by Jean Gagnon. Licensed under Creative Commons, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

Several schools and libraries of Quebec bear the name of Émile Nelligan. Since 1979, the Prix Émile-Nelligan rewards the author of a French-language poetry book written by a young poet in North America.

On June 7, 2005, the Fondation Émile-Nelligan and the City of Montreal inaugurated a bust to his memory in the Carré Saint-Louis. There is also a monument to his memory in Quebec City.

The poetry of Nelligan inspired numerous music composers:

  • André Gagnon. Nelligan, Toronto: Disques SRC, 2005, 2 disks (Concert recorded at the Salle Wilfrid-Pelletier of the Place des Arts in Montréal, on February 18 and 19 2005)
  • Gilbert Patenaude. Compagnons des Amériques : poètes québécois mis en musique, Montréal: Disques XXI, 2005, 1 disk
  • Jean Chatillon. Clair de lune sur les eaux du rêve, Bécancour: Éditions de l'Écureuil noir, 2001 (1 disk)
  • Jacques Hétu. Le tombeau de Nelligan : mouvement symphonique opus 52, Saint-Nicolas: Doberman-Yppan, 1995 (1 partition: 44 pages)
  • John Craton. Jardin sentimental : Cinq poèmes d’Émile Nelligan, Bedford, Ind: Wolfhead Music, 2004, 18 pages.
  • André Gagnon and Claude Léveillée. Monique Leyrac chante Emile Nelligan, Verdun: Disques Mérite, 1991, 1 disk
  • André Gagnon. Nelligan : livret d'opéra, Montréal: Leméac, 1990, 90 pages (text by Michel Tremblay)
  • Jacques Hétu. Les abîmes du rêve : opus 36, Montréal: Sociéte nouvelle d'enregistrement, 1987, duration 30:21
  • Richard G. Boucher. Anges maudits, veuillez m'aider! : cantate dramatique sur des poèmes d'Émile Nelligan, Montréal: Radio Canada international, 1981, duration 38 min.
  • Omer Létourneau. Violon de villanelle : choeur pour voix de femmes, Québec: Procure générale de musique enr., 1940 (1 partition: 8 pages)

PublicationsEdit

CollectionsEdit

  • 1903 - Émile Nelligan et son œuvre, Montréal: Beauchemin (Louis Dantin) online
  • 1952 - Poésies complètes : 1896-1899, Montréal: Fides (Luc Lacourcière)
  • 1966 - Poèmes choisis, Montréal: Fides (Eloi de Grandmont)
  • 1980 - Poèmes choisis, Montréal: Fides (Roger Chamberland)
  • 1982 - 31 Poèmes autographes : 2 carnets d'hôpital, 1938, Trois-Rivières: Forges
  • 1991 - Le Récital des anges : 50 poèmes d'Émile Nelligan, Trois-Rivières: Forges (Claude Beausoleil)
  • 1991 - Oeuvres complètes, Montréal: Fides, 2 volumes (Réjean Robidoux and Paul Wyczynski)
  • 1991 - Poèmes autographes, Montréal: Fides, 1991, (Paul Wyczynski)
  • 1995 - Poésie en version originale, Montréal: Triptyque (André Marquis)
  • 1997 - Poèmes choisis : le récital de l'ange, Saint-Hippolyte: Noroît (Jocelyne Felx)
  • 1998 - Poésies complètes, La Table Ronde: Paris, 1998

In EnglishEdit

See also Edit

References Edit

  • P.F. Widdows (1960). Selected Poems by Émile Nelligan, Toronto: Ryerson, 39 p.

Edit

External linksEdit

Poems
About
Etc.
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