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…?


Cette adorable personne c’est toi
Sous le grand chapeau canotier
La Bouche
voici l’ovale de la figure
ton cou exquis
un peu plus bas
c’est ton coeur qui bat
ci confus
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
here is the oval of your face
your exquisite neck
a bit lower down
there’s your beating heart
should we mix with it
the impure
through the mirage
of your loved breast
a comma
through a cloud”

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