October 21, 2011

Catherine Pozzi : the purity of classical poetry

It is in 1987, with the publication of her journal, that the work and the character of Catherine Pozzi (1882-1934) is rediscovered. Born into an aristocratic and wealthy family, the young woman, bright and well-educated, met at home José-Maria de Heredia, Paul Bourget. After studying with tutors, she completed her education spending one year at Oxford. At 25, she married the succesful playwright Edouard Bourdet, and of that consensual union, was born a son, Claude. A year after ther birth, the young mother experiencing the first symptoms of tuberculosis. Catherine Pozzi resumed her studies and got the baccalaureate at the age of 37. In 1920, she began a relationship with Paul Valéry that lasted 8 years. The important correspondence between the two lovers, published by Gallimard in 2006, shows the the tumultuous of the relation and also the influence that the author had on Catherine Pozzi's work. The poet died in Paris in 1934, undermined by disease and drugs.

Of her publications, essentially posthumous, we note, in addition to her journal, her correspondences with Jean Paulhan and Rainer Maria Rilke. If her work is the reflect of a time and of her skills, her poetry, although dazzling, is marked with a classicism and purity worthy of the greatests. The collection Poèmes, published in 1935, gives a reading of six pieces ; the last "Nyx" ("night" in Greek) was composed at one go, a month before the death of the poet :
O you, my nights, O long-awaited black-
ness, O proud country, O obstinate sec-
rets, O long looks, O thundering clouds
O flight beyond skies which are closed

O great desire, O scattered surprise
O beautiful journey of th’ enchanted sprite
O worst evil, O grace that flies
O open door where we enter night

I don’t know why I die today
Before th’ eternal rest above.
I don’t know for whom I’m prey
 I don’t know for whom I’m love.
Currently, the librairie Loliée offers :
  • POZZI (Catherine). Poèmes. Paris, Mesures, s.d. [1935], booklet in-8. First Edition. Limited to 410 copies, one of the first 10 on Holland paper.