The theme of eternal memory in Guillaume Apollinaire's poems “The Mirabeau Bridge” and “The Stabbed Dove & the Fountain”) - Guillaume Apollinaire

Essays on literary works - 2023

The theme of eternal memory in Guillaume Apollinaire's poems “The Mirabeau Bridge” and “The Stabbed Dove & the Fountain”)
Guillaume Apollinaire

The French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, whose work has now become a classic, lived on the border between the nineteenth century, the "iron" century (according to O. Blok), and the twentieth century, full of catastrophes and wars.

Guillaume Apollinaire's poems are a strange combination of emotional lyricism and inner tragedy. Apollinaire is one of the first poets who touched upon in his works the most ordinary, at first glance, topics and raised the issues of the modern age. The "complexity" of Apollinaire's work is explained not by wallowing in the fog of reality, but on the contrary, by a close connection with the environment, a desire to respond to the changing life of the turn of the century.

In the poems "The Mirabeau Bridge" and "The Slaughtered Dove and the Water Play", the poet addresses the topic of man and his existence in the modern world. In the first work, it is an image of the inner world of a person, his sense of the inexorable passage of time, and at the same time, the unquenchable hope for the eternity of love, even if this love is a memory. The theme of memory also sounds in the poem "Slain Dove and Water Play", but no longer in a minor key, with a tragic color. The poet remembers his friends and girlfriends, whose lives were taken by the war. In the terrible reality of war, a person remains alone in front of the bottomless "bloody sea", and the only thing that can support him is the eternal memory of his loved ones. The sea turns into an incorruptible fountain of memory.

Apollinaire's book "Alkogom" was published in 1913 after a long period of silence of the poet and unites the works of 1898-1913. At first, Apollinaire conceived his collection as a "revolutionary calendar in verse", but this idea was not realized. However, the title of the book reminds us that the life of the 20th century, full of revolutions and wars, burns like the drink of a fiery snake.

The poem "Mirabeau Bridge", written around 1912, is one of the iconic poems in the collection. In this poem, the lyrical principle was clearly revealed: the work tells us about love, which flows irrevocably like the Seine under the bridges of Paris, as well as about love and hope, which are as boundless and irresistible as the rushing waters of the Seine. In "Bridge of Mirabeau", simple words and images combined with an obscene rhythm, reminiscent of the rhythm of folk songs, have a powerful lyrical impact. In this poem, Apollinaire perceived and conveyed the very spirit of folk songs, which appeared in the images, and in the poetics, and in the composition of the work. Thus, repeated lines in poetry resemble the chorus in a folk song:

Let the clock strike, night is coming

Days pass, and I'm still there

The image above the river of incessantly flowing time, which takes away both joy and sadness, is contrasted with another image - the image of intertwined hands, a bridge of love over eternity:

Hand in hand, let's stand eye to eye Under the bridge of hands Water flows and splashes One of eternal glances wants to rest Although the lyrical hero of the poem is lonely, his memory of love becomes a source of life and hope:

Love flows like running water

Love has surfaced

Life is a drag

Hope is unquenchably burning

The second large poetic collection of Apollinaire is "Calligrams. Poems of Peace and War". Most of the poems included in the collection were written during the war, so the poet called his work a "wartime book." Some of the poems in the collection were typed in the form of "calligrams", that is, so that their text formed a picture of a house, a star, oblique lines of rain... "Calligrams" (or "ideograms") "fit" well into a poster poem, as, for example, anti-war poetry "Slaughtered dove and waterhole". The powerful jets of the fountain, depicted both poetically and graphically, symbolize mourning for friends who die at the front, and the fountain of blood spilled in war. Like a mournful fountain, "memories fly to the sky", the names of fallen friends can be heard in the splash of water.

The dove girls were also destroyed by the war - and only their "tender images" remained in the poet's memory... But in Apollinaire's calligram, the dove still soars to the heights above the fountain of mourning, above the sea of blood and tears. Apollinaire's "Slaughtered Dove" became the prototype of Picasso's dove, which created an image as a symbol of peace.

The poem "Mirabeau Bridge" and "Slaughtered Dove and Water Play" are not just poetic memories, but a tribute to eternal memory, which can preserve the human in a person, despite his loneliness in a terrible reality. The memory of loved ones and friends resists the unstoppable time and all the destructive forces that seek to sever a person's ties with the world.

Despite the echoes of sadness and world sorrow, Apollinaire's poems are imbued with faith in the bright, pristine, eternal...