31 October 2010

All Hallows

Beauty is always the result of an accident. 
Of a violent lapse between acquired habits and those yet to be acquired.

 & your personal patron Saint-why not?


Saint Jean

The trouble about the Académie is that by the time 
they get around to electing us to a seat, 
we really need a bed. On his election to Académie Française

We shelter an angel within us. 
We must be the guardians of that angel.

Mystery has its own mysteries, and there are gods above gods. 
We have ours, they have theirs. That is what’s known as infinity.

 Disavow anyone who provokes 
or accepts the extermination of a race to which he does not belong.

A true poet does not bother to be poetical. 
Nor does a nursery gardener scent his roses.

I have lost my seven best friends, 
which is to say God has had mercy on me seven times without realizing it. 
He lent a friendship, 
took it from me, 
sent me another.

Wealth is an inborn attitude of mind, like poverty. 
The pauper who has made his pile may flaunt his spoils, 
but cannot wear them plausibly.

The poet never asks for admiration; he wants to be believed.



  1. He poses a delicate problem of influence: like Wilde's, his work was superior to his aperçus, but he's cultivated for the latter by the dilettanti. Is the finest thing on him still "Professional Secrets," a collaboration of Robert Phelps and Richard Howard from FS&G (1970)? I know it underwrote a vogue for him among the young of that time; but a vogue for Cocteau is a contradiction in terms, as he'd have been the first to insist.

  2. why Mr. Nicholas-you have found me out! I may well fit that description "dilettanti"-for my appreciation far exceeds my depth of knowledge,though I am not posing as an intellect by naming him-as Oscar Wilde would do just as sweetly. Cocteau would have reveled in any contradiction of terms, that was his language in a sense. It is amusing though isn't it, the moment a Patron Saint is embraced by the dilettante, His intellectual disciples will abandon him?

  3. I'm with LA in LA.

  4. It is a fascinating post on Cocteau Gaye, and your chosen images are a delight.

    Art by Karena

  5. Beautiful post . . ...
    oh, that waistcoat !


  6. Dear Gaye, wonderful post and pictures. I love the purple picture of him! Where did you find it? xx

  7. La Belle, je suis La Bête...

  8. Christina, the pic is one from Life magazine, and the banner is from Cocteau's Blood of the Poet, as seen in the second short video. pgt

  9. I sense I made myself misunderstood. "Dilettanti" are not at all to be compared with our impression, much less our adoption of the term; they are (were) a Society, lately celebrated by a fine publication of the Getty Museum, of what we would call "advanced amateurs" who prepared and presented papers to each other on advancements in their own scholarship. http://shop.getty.edu/product15.html

    We evidently agree that his aperçus dominate perceptions of him, but you cite individual works which bear really careful attention. I'm not sure I could name a disciple of his, although we know he has had many protégés, including one's own favourite director women in films, François Truffaut. One can scarcely be a disciple of such a protean artist, so I don't know how easy it would be to track their abandonments.

    I wouldn't hesitate to say that "sang d'un poète," "enfants terribles," and l'éternel retour" gigantically trump any clever comeback he might have uttered to Ned Rorem on what he'd remove from his apartment in the event of a fire. I know: I thought that remark to be delicious, for 25 years, and I wouldn't say it was my superior regard for his work which was at fault. I simply finally figured it out. I am still working on "l'éternel retour."

    By the way, he'd take the fire.

  10. A very interesting post that makes me want to see "Le sang d'un poète" again.



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