In 1899, once settled in Paris in order to complete his studies, Emile Ripert gets to experience the creative dramatic works and theatre of Edmond Rostand, a major and successful figure of Drama in this early 20th Century. His plays such as « Cyrano » and « l’Aiglon » are proving extremely popular to the Parisian audience including Emile who can barely hold his enthusiasm and decides to write to Rostand.
of a young Poet
Below is how he decided to get in touch: he chose verses over a more traditional letter format. Thus Emile could truly express his views and feelings.
« …In 1902 I sent him this rather daring poem which bluntly expressed my fervent sense of admiration towards him. A few weeks passed by during which the lack of response from him triggered a slight feverish anxiety. Eventually it came and filled me with excitement. A fter congratulating me for my work, the poet wrote that he would forward my verses to « Gaulois du Dimanche » so they could be published. His letter also contained Mrs. Rostand’s grand handwriting that I have since learnt how to recognise despite its troubling similarity with her husband’s. »
This is how both poets became friends with Rostand acting as a mentor for Ripert, encouraging him to pursue his works of poetry. He helped him with the publishing of his first collection of poems in 1904 for which he suggested a title: le chemin Blanc (The White Path).
Emile Ripert’s works will be twice praised by the French Academy. « Le chemin Blanc » (“The White Path”) will lead him to the publishing of « golfe d’Amour » (The Love Bay) in 1908. This “Love Bay” clearly refers to the bay of La Ciotat, Ripert’s Provencal cradle. Indeed Emile Ripert loves his native region and his spontaneous inspiration echoes the visual memories of long afternoon walks in the rocky hills of Le Bec de l’Aigle and Cassis or on the beach of Lèques .
In 1912, La Terre des Lauriers (The Land of Bay Trees) is awarded the National Poetry Prize; this poem is nothing short of a love declaration to his native town, La Ciotat.
« My purest, my earliest years, I
spent by you;
the sweetest town of all, the softest thing of all. »
Intoxicated by the fragrance of the bay trees, a Homeric mermaid rested on the Love Bay sandy beach; the sound of the 1914 German canons marked the end of her age-old lethargy. This heroin of Mythology was wounded on the shores of the Mediterranean sea and the « sirène blessée» (The Wounded Mermaid), published in 1920 stands for a fast emerging sense of patriotism triggered by the atrocities of the maritime war. Émile Ripert then develops a strong interest in Francis of Assisi, the Saint of overall pacifism. He consults again the notes he had taken during his trip to Umbria in 1907 and writes « le poème d’Assise » (LIEN) in 1924. The very soul of Francis of Assisi resonates in this poem « le poème d’Assise » (Poem for Assisi).
Sur le sable du golfe d’Amour, grisée par le parfum des Lauriers de Provence, dormait une sirène homérique, dont la léthargie, plus que millénaire, fut troublée par le canon outre-Rhénan de 1914. Cette héroïne mythologique fut blessée sur les rivages Méditerranéens, et la « sirène blessée » en 1920 est une exaltation de patriotisme effervescent, née des atrocités de la guerre sous-marine.
TO BE CONTINUED...
* poème extrait du recueil
« Le chemin blanc » 1904
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