Paul-Louis Courier

épistolier, pamphlétaire, helléniste
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Tribute paid by poets

P aul-Louis Courier did not seem particularly attracted to poetry. Not that he condemned the poets like Plato, who wanted them banned from the City, but rather owing to a great sense of propriety of his feelings. For that matter, he was able to compose some pieces and we know of one, that touches upon, even if in a playful and cheerful way, the bitterness of the necessary choice between two women. He composed it on the 19th of May, 1814, recalling his adorable Roman mistress Rosa, abandoned some days before to be wed with Herminie Clavier. In passing, the poem contains an anomaly : is it a transcription mistake or is Paul-Louis responsible for it ? It concerns of use of the preposition « on » (« sur » in the verse 9). « Under » (« sous ») would be correct as « la coudrette » is a copse of hazel trees under the shade of which Paul-Louis used to frolic with Rosa and to worship to Aphrodite. The word « coudrette », a little bit forgotten today, is used by Courier with the appropriate preposition in the Petition for villagers… where he writes : « Malgré l’arrêté, on dansa hors du village, au bord du Cher, sur le gazon, sous la coudrette… » (« Despite of the order, they danced out of the village, by the river Cher, on the grass, under the hazel trees… »)

The love of Choffard (1772) The love of Choffard (1772)

L’amour de Minette
M’occupa longtemps.
Mais franche coquette
Elle a des amants
Et vit en cachette
De mes quarante ans.
Hélas je regrette
Ces heureux instants
Où sur la coudrette
J’étais si content
Près de ma Rosette.
Tel souci pourtant
Pas trop m’inquiète
Soyons plus constant ;
Gai, foulons l’herbette ;
J’abandonne aux vents
L’amour de Minette.

Poetry pays a tribute to that and to those who embody a value in the men’s eyes. It is a singular way to express emotion and is up a major art worthwhile from time immemorial. Greeks had attributed to Erato, one of the nine Muses, the power to rule over the poetry’s clamours. She played a lyre because Greek poetry was sung first. We do not have anymore bards nowadays, but poets we do have. Some have « sung », in their own way, the lampoonist’s merits. So it was understandable that they would be included in this website dedicated to Courier.