Jean Cocteau, interview in Paris Review

oktober 24, 2011

INTERVIEWER: Your own definition of poetry seems relevant here. You have said somewhere that when you love a piece of theater, others say it is not theater but something else; and if you love a film, your friends say that is not film but it is something else; and if you admire something in sport, they say that is not sport but it is something else. And finally you have arrived at realizing that that “something else” is poetry.

JEAN COCTEAU: You see, you do not know what you do. It is not possible to do what one intends. The mechanism is too subtle for that, too secret. Apollinaire set out to duplicate Anatole France, his model, and failed magnificently. He created a new poetry, small, but valid. Some do a very small thing, like Apollinaire, and have a large reward, as he did finally; others, a great thing, as did Max Jacob, who was the true poet of Cubism, and not Apollinaire, and the result—one’s gain and reputation—is minute. Baudelaire writes much fabricated verse and then—tout à coup!—poetry.

INTERVIEWER: Isn’t it the same in Shelley?

COCTEAU: Shelley. Keats. One single phrase, and the whole of the poem carried into the sky! Or Rimbaud commences writing poetry right from the start, and then simply gives it up because it is very evident the audience doesn’t care.”

Jean Cocteau in een interview uit 1964 voor Paris Review met de mooie slotbedenking:

This sickness, to express oneself. What is it?

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