Who am I finally? I am the instigator of crime I am ruin and sorrow I am shame I am dishonour I am death I am Absinthe”

Marie Corelli, 1855 – 1924

The following are all excerpts from the book “Wormwood; A Drama of Paris” (1890).

I am the green fairy

“I am the green Fairy
My robe is the color of despair
I have nothing in common with the fairies of the past
What I need is blood, red and hot,
The palpitating flesh of my victims
Alone, I will kill France, the present is dead,
Vive the future…
But me, I kill the future and in family I destroy
The love of country, courage, honor,
I am the purveyor of hell, penitentiaries, hospitals.
Who am I finally?
I am the instigator of crime
I am ruin and sorrow
I am shame
I am dishonor
I am death
I am Absinthe”

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Antonin Artaud, 1896 – 1948

In the early 1920’s Antonin Artaud was very much influenced by the great French poets Verlaine, Mallarmé and Rimbaud. The poem Verlaine Boit was published in 1921. Between 1926-1928 Artaud also ran the Alfred Jarry theatre where he directed plays by, among others, August Strindberg. Below are both the original poem in French and an English translation.

Verlaine Boit

“Il y aura toujours des grues au coin des rues,
Coquillages perdus sue les grèves stellaires
Du soir bleu qui n’est pas d’ici ni de la terre,
Où roulent des cabs aux élytres éperdues.

Et roulent moins que dans ma tête confondue
La pierre verte de l’absinthe au fond du verre,
Où je bois la perdition et les tonnerres
A venir du Seigneur pour calciner mon âme nue.

Ah! Qu’ils tournent les fuseaux mêles des rues
Et filent l’entrelacs des hommes et des femmes
Ainsi qu’une araignée qui tisserait sa trame
Avec les filaments des âmes reconnues.”

Verlaine Drinks (English translation of Verlaine Boit)

“There will always be whores on street corners,
Lost shells stranded on the stellar shores
Of a blue dusk which belongs neither here nor on earth
Where taxis roll by like bewildered beetles.

But they roll less than in my whirling head
The green gem of absinthe deep in the glass
Where I drink perdition and the thunder
Of the Lord’s judgement to roast my naked soul.

Ah! How the tangled spindles of the streets
Turn and spin the fabric of men and women,
As if a spider were weaving her web.
With the filaments of uncovered souls.”


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