I sit at my door, smoking a cigarette and sipping my absinthe, and I enjoy every day without a care in the world.
- Paul Gaugin, 1897
Cros is generally recognised as the inventor of the phonograph, a device he called a Paréophone. But lacking financial resources, he was unable to patent his device before Thomas Edison and others developed the idea and started production.
Cros was also acknowledged for developing certain colour photography processes and an automatic telegraph. How he managed to come up with those, and how he managed to find the time and mind to actually do anything is a mystery, since rumours said he was known to frequent some of the most known cafés in Paris and drink up to twenty absinthes a day. True or not, he did write some wonderful poems and was obviously a great inventor.
Charles Cros (October 1, 1842 - August 9, 1888), was a French inventor and poet. He is probably best known as the man who almost invented the phonograph. Thomas Alva Edison did beat him to it by submitting a patent for a similar device just before Cros.
Charles Cros did however develop certain color photography processes that came to play a great role in the evolving color photography. Even though Charles Cros was certainly a brilliant writer and obviously an amazing inventor not all his ideas were equally brilliant. For instance he spent many years trying to convince the French government that they should build a giant mirror to be used for communicating with martians or habitants of Venus. The mirror should be used to burn marks in the sand of the deserts of Mars and Venus. This was because Cros was convinced that the little spots of light seen from these planets was the light from cities there... Reminds slightly of the odd ideas of Strindberg...
That aside he did write amazing novels and articles and one of them is his first full book of poems, "Le Coffret de santal", published in 1873.
Befriended with Verlaine and Rimbaud he was known to frequent many of the popular Parisian cafés at the time and in 1873 Charles Cros wrote one of the most beautiful poems relating to absinthe of all times, "Lendemain", part of his book of poems, "Le Coffret de santal". The original poem in French reads;
"Avec les fleurs, avec les femmes,
Avec l’absinthe, avec le feu,
On peut se divertir un peu,
Jouer son rôle en quelque drame.
L’absinthe bue un soir d’hiver
Éclaire en vert l’âme enfumée,
Et les fleurs, sur la bien-aimée
Embaument devant le feu clair.
Puis les baisers perdent leurs charmes,
Ayant duré quelques saisons.
Les réciproques trahisons
Font qu’on se quitte un jour, sans larmes.
On brûle lettres et bouquets
Et le feu se met à l’alcôve.
Et, si la triste vie est sauve,
Restent l’absinthe et ses hoquets.
Les portraits sont mangés des flammes:
Les doigts crispés sont tremblotants...
On meurt d’avoir dormi longtemps
Avec les fleurs, avec les femmes."
And the English translation, equally magnificent;
"With Flowers, and with Women,
With Absinthe, and with this Fire,
We can divert ourselves a while,
Act out our part in some drama.
Absinthe, on a winter evening,
Lights up in green the sooty soul;
And Flowers, on the beloved,
Grow fragrant before the clear Fire.
Later, kisses lose their charm
Having lasted several seasons;
And after mutual betrayals
We part one day without a tear.
We burn letters and bouquets.
And fire takes our bower;
And if sad life is salvaged
Still there is Absinthe and its hiccups.
The portraits are eaten by flames.
Shrivelled fingers tremble.
We die from sleeping long
With Flowers, and with Women."
Written by Markus Hartsmar
Many writers "of old" wrote poems or passages about absinthe. Some drank it, some didn't. Find some of them here as well as reviews and notes on modern books about absinthe.
The Absinthe Poetry section has seen several updates the past days. Poems and information about more authors; Antonin Artaud, Arthur Symons, Francis Saltus Saltus, Florence Folsom and Robert Loveman. Open your mind and have a drink while you enjoy their lyrics.
It's the new bistro, the new bar in town. A good place to meet when meeting in real life isn't always an option. Meet me on facebook for more updates from the absinthe world.