The Poem

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“It weeps in my heart” is actually the first line of an untitled work in the group of poems called “Ariettes oubliées” (“Forgotten Melodies”). This sixteen-line poem, composed of hexasyllabic quatrains in the original French, contains a very musical rhyme scheme known as rimes croisées, or what might be noted as the following pattern: abaa, cdcc, eaee, fdff. The epigraph, “It rains gently on the town,” attributed to Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine’s companion and literary confrere, is not found among Rimbaud’s known body of work, and the tribute’s origin, therefore, remains a mystery. Many critics have made suppositions as to its source, but nothing has been verified positively.

Many of Verlaine’s poems have musical titles, as his artistic credo (from his poem “Art poétique”) was “De la musique avant toute chose” (“Music first and foremost”), and his emphasis on the musicality of the poem is evident throughout his career. The title of this collection, “Romances,” connotes sentimentality, and the echoes of such sounds as “heart” and “rain” (in French, coeur and pluie) are reminiscent of the simple medieval ballads and troubadour songs.

The poem is written in the first person and is a lyric poem in the classical tradition that expresses the intensely personal feelings of the narrator. The first quatrain sets the mood, explaining that the poet’s weeping heart...

(The entire section is 460 words.)