poem index


Guillaume Apollinaire

Printer-friendly version
Guillaume Apollinaire
Related Schools & Movements: 

Guillaume Apollinaire (Wilhelm Albert Vladimir Apollinaris Kostrowitzky) was born in Rome on August 26, 1880. He purposefully kept his parentage clouded in speculation but was most likely the illegitimate child of Angelica Kostrowitzky, a Polish woman, and an Italian army officer. He was raised in the French Riviera and was educated in Monaco and Nice.

In 1899, he moved to Paris. During his twenties, he worked for a bank as a clerk and kept company with artists such as Picasso, Braques, Chagall, Max Jacob, Eric Satie, Marcel Duchamp, and Marie Laurencin, with whom he had a relationship. Apollinaire's first collection of poetry, L'enchanteur pourrissant, was published in 1909, and his reputation as a poet was established in 1913 with the publication of the collection Alcools: Poemes.

Apollinaire was an important part of several avant-garde movements in French literature and art at the start of the twentieth century. His influences include the Symbolist poets Victor Hugo, Charles Baudelaire, Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, Jules Laforgue, and Tristan Corbière. His play La mamelles de Tirésias, which was later adapted as an opera by Francis Poulenc in 1947, is one of the earliest examples of Surrealism—a word he is credited for coining.

In 1914, Apollinaire decided to become a French national by enlisting in the infantry during World War I. He was stationed on the front in Champagne until 1916, when he suffered a head wound and returned to Paris. Despite poor health, he continued writing, publishing the poetic manifesto L'esprit nouveau et les poëtes in 1917 and writing Calligrammes, a collection of concrete poetry, which would not be published until after his death.

In 1918, he married Jacqueline Kolb. Shortly thereafter, he died of the Spanish Flu on November 9, 1918, in Paris.

Selected Bibliography


L'enchanteur pourrissant (1909)
Alcools (1913)
Le poète assassiné (1916)
Calligrammes (1918)


La mamelles de Tirésias (1917)


Les onze milles virges (1906)
Les mémoires d'un jeune Don Juan (1907)


Peintres cubistes (1913)
L'esprit nouveau et les poètes (1918)

by this poet

At last you're tired of this elderly world

Shepherdess O Eiffel Tower this morning the bridges are bleating

You're fed up living with antiquity

Even the automobiles are antiques
Religion alone remains entirely new religion
Remains as simple as an airport hangar

In all Europe only you O Christianism are not
Under Mirabeau Bridge the river slips away
       And lovers
     Must I be reminded
Joy came always after pain

       The night is a clock chiming
       The days go by not I

We're face to face and hand in hand 
       While under the bridges
     Of embrace expire
Eternal tired tidal eyes

       The night is