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Cimitière marin, Le

Fishburn and Hughes: A long meditative poem in decasyllabics on the theme of death by Paul Valéry, first published in NRF (no. 81) in June 1920 and later, with slight variations, in August 1920. The cemetery referred to is that of Sète, where the author was eventually buried. The 'transposition' of the poem 'into alexandrines' may be a humorous allusion to the 'Essai de traduction en vers français' by a certain Colonel Godchot, translator of Virgil and director of the literary periodical Ma Revue. To Godchot's attack on the innovative language and style of his poem, Valéry mockingly responded by thanking him for a translation which clarified the text, adding that it could not have been too obscure if he had been able to paraphrase it. Colonel Godchot was gratified, nevertheless, and both versions of the poem appeared together in Ma Revue in July 1930. On the other hand, Borges may have remembered that Valéry himself was not averse to transposing poems into a different metre and had proposed to change the versification of Baudelaire's 'Invitation au Voyage' by lengthening the heptasyllable following each couplet of pentasyllables into an octosyllable (see Jean Provost, Baudelaire, Paris 1953, 329). Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote