Paul Éluard’s “Critique of Poetry”

Critique de la poésie by Paul Éluard
Critique of poetry, translated by Denise DeVries

Of course I hate the Middle Class reign,

The rule of cops and parsons

But I hate even more the ones who do not hate

Like me

With all their strength.

I spit in the face of the one smaller than nature
Who of all my poems does not prefer this
critique of poetry.

Critique de la poésie

C’est entendu je hais le règne des bourgeois

Le règne des flics et des prêtres

Mais je hais plus encore l’homme qui ne le hait pas

Comme moi

De toutes ses forces.

Je crache à la face de l’homme plus petit que nature
Qui à tous mes poèmes ne préfère pas cette
Critique de la poésie.

Not much has changed in poetry in the past century, it seems. In 1919, Marianne Moore wrote “Poetry, I too dislike it.” Paul Éluard wrote this critique in 1932. In 2016, Ben Lerner wrote an entire book about The Hatred of Poetry. “Many more people agree they hate poetry, than can agree what poetry is.”
As we say in Virginia, “better to be talked about than ignored!”

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