Recognize Yourself


Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, Apollianire’s lover and muse from 1914 to 1915

 
 

Reconnais-toi, calligram by Apollinaire

 
 

When in 1915 Guillaume Apollinaire dedicated the calligram poem Reconnais-toi to Louise de Coligny-Châtillon, it represented the woman he was enamoured with, and who was one of his muses, wearing a wide-brimmed hat. It is worth nothing that the invention of the calligram is a movement towards abstraction: with the letters of the alphabet, Apollinaire drew the calligram featuring what the outspread words were referring to. Was it a sign of the times that only a few years later Gabrielle Chanel would call her first perfume N°5, replacing the name by a number…?

 
 

“Reconnais-toi
Cette adorable personne c’est toi
Sous le grand chapeau canotier
Oeil
Nez
La Bouche
voici l’ovale de la figure
ton cou exquis
un peu plus bas
c’est ton coeur qui bat
ni
ci confus
l’impure
par le mirage
de ton buste adoré
un comma
à travers un nuage”

February 1915
Poèmes à Lou (Poems to Lou)

 
 

___________________________

 
 

“Recognize yourself
this adorable person is you
under the big Carolina hat
eye
nose
mouth
here is the oval of your face
your exquisite neck
a bit lower down
there’s your beating heart
nor
should we mix with it
the impure
through the mirage
of your loved breast
a comma
through a cloud”

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