IMHO Installment #39: Manet was Cool

08 May 2007

Sometimes, it's a blogger's pleasure to present new, exciting information (revelations, you might say) to the literary world. I've got to tell you, I was shocked at the discovery I'm about to let loose on the blogosphere. You see, years ago, I was a young American in Paris, meandering aimlessly through those preposterously twisting cobblestone streets. I was like Ethan Hawke in that Before Sunrise movie, only I unfortunately didn't hook up with Julie Delpy -- though, fortunately, I also didn't bother reading Heidegger. But I did lose my way ...

Utterly lost, I happened across a forgotten bookstore and picked up a dusty volume of poetry by an obscure 19th century French writer named Georges Roget Leseaux. Although I never understood a word of French, I at least noted the book's antiquity (bearing a copyright date of MDCCCLXXXIV, or 1884). Fantastic gilding, fine leather binding, and only a few dozen francs, if memory serves (this was prior to France's conversion to the Euro).

The poem I'll translate below, from page 1973 (yes, it was also a HUGE book -- enjoying, get this, 740+ weeks on France's bestseller's list at the time!), seems to be a tribute to the famous French artist, A‰douard Manet. As it was presented in the volume, it almost resembled lyrics. (Oddly, one might wonder whether this poem ever inspired other creative works?) See what you think.

Manet, on display,
Get a new gig and hang out with Claude Monet
Manet, your paint was oil,
Brush strokes so dark, seemed like your paint was soil
Nudes in the park, what a lark, four star train steam,
Think I'll paint me an impressionistic dream.
Manet, he's no hack,
I bought this one, keep your hands off of my canvas.
Manet ... 's not a hit
Critics gave you that do-goody-good bullshit
Although your notoriety by th' high class dismissed,
You still died of syphilis
[woodwind solo] Manet, no one cared
'cept for Zola, Mallarme, and Baudelaire
Manet! [Oh] that magistrate ...
Your dad was the root of all evil in your day
And then you sought the Salon, [but] you're withdrawn, they're
Showing others today ...

What an awful poet, that Leseaux. It's no wonder no one's ever heard of him. Still, it does sound almost ... familiar, doesn't it?

Original Comments

Below, are the original comments on this post. Additional comments may be made via Facebook, below.

On May 9, 2007, Matt wrote:

Funny how that guy turned out to be an ass clown.

On May 9, 2007, Alix Lakehurst wrote:

They had him in 1889 and we have K Fed.

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