The symbolism of images in G. Apollinaire's poetry - Guillaume Apollinaire

Essays on literary works - 2023

The symbolism of images in G. Apollinaire's poetry
Guillaume Apollinaire

Wilhelm Apollinarius Kostrovytskyi, a famous French poet, was a passionate admirer of the works of romantic poets — Verdun, Rimbaud, and Mallarmé. His first literary attempts are a combination of romance and symbolism, and the themes of the poems resonate with the themes of German folk songs, which he was fascinated by in his early youth.

But life is a harsh teacher. Guillaume Apollinaire remains penniless and leads a half-starved existence among artistic bohemia. A peculiar Parisian lifestyle, friendship with artists and writers, admiration for the work of Pablo Picasso inspired Apollinaire to write works that combined, on the one hand, a keen sense of the inevitability of death, and on the other hand, admiration for life, the sun, and nature. He lives in search of new forms, a new vision and understanding of poetry, which, in his opinion, should synthesize music, painting and literature. He doesn't want to "write prose or verse" while following the rules of grammar. His miniatures are free from barriers created by signs, Apollinaire trusts the reader, makes him a co-author of his work, to search for the truth together, to express admiration for life, to reveal its reality and incomprehensibility. The surprise of everything what surrounded and inspired him, he considered "the most powerful force of the new." He compares the noisy water of the Seine with love that runs from heart to heart, and

Hand in hand, eye to eye

Under the bridge of hands

The water flows sloshingly

One wants to rest from eternal views.

("Mirabeau Bridge")

Lovers can create a bridge over the river with their own hands. And let love flow like water, but hope for life remains forever with a person:

Days, hours and minutes pass

Love will pass

And it won't come again

Let the Seine flow under the Mirabeau bridge

Let the clock strike, night is coming

Days pass, and I'm still there

("Mirabeau Bridge")

The lyrical image of hearts in love conquering space, entwining hands, creating a bridge between two shores, surprises and fascinates.

But life is relentless and cruel. The First World War became the terrible reality that split the poet's world in half. Apollinaire goes to the front as a volunteer, fights first as a private in the artillery, and then as a lieutenant in the infantry. At first, in his works, he tried to combine the theme of war with the usual intimate motives, but the cruel reality cancels out bright, joyful feelings. Crying, calling the vodogray to him charming girls, but

About the figure of murdered lovers

Oh dear blooming lips...

where are you girls

I ask you

But near the water feature,

That cries and calls

Dove is intoxicating.

("Slaughtered Dove and Water Play")

The lyrical hero addresses his friends, calls their sad names, and receives only the echo of those dear names in response. He knows nothing about their fate, maybe they are still alive.

They are fighting somewhere on the Northern Front

Those omandras are all in the blood

And the sun is wounded in the grass

On the crimson horizon.

("Slaughtered Dove and Water Play")

But the image of a sobbing water feature gives no hope of seeing them alive. A complex system of symbolic images in Apollinaire's poetry awakens the reader's imagination, because the author asks many questions and does not give a single direct answer.