Music: Verlaine

Paul Verlaine, famed French poet, loved a girl "with a long, pale face, a lisp and a threat of embonpoint." She had, he said, a capacity for incurable grudges. When Verlaine, jugged for drunkenness, lay in prison in Paris in 1870, she brought him a meat pie. He ate, praised. She had always understood, she said, that rats made savoury eating if a man were hungry. Verlaine divorced her.

Long before this untoward incident, he had loved her truly, had written for her a group of deathless love poems, La Bonne Chanson. One of...

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