Biography of François Coppée
François Edouard Joachim Coppée was a French poet and novelist.
He was born in Paris to a civil servant. After attending the Lycée Saint-Louis he became a clerk in the ministry of war, and won public favour as a poet of the Parnassian school. His first printed verses date from 1864. In 1869 his first play, Le Passant, was received with approval at the Odéon theatre, and later Fais ce que dois (1871) and Les Bijoux de la délivrance (1872), short poetic dramas inspired by the Franco-Prussian War, were applauded.
After holding a post in the library of the senate, Coppée was chosen in 1878 as archivist of the Comédie Française, an office he held till 1884. In that year his election to the Académie française caused him to retire from all public appointments. He was made an officer of the Legion of Honour in 1888.
Coppée was famed as le poète des humbles (the poet of the humble). His verse and prose focus on plain expressions of emotion, patriotism, the joy of young love, and the pitifulness of the poor. He continued to write plays, mostly serious dramas in verse, two in collaboration with Armand d'Artois. The performance of a short episode of the Commune, Le Pater, was prohibited by the government in 1889. Coppée published his first prose work in 1875 and went on to publish short stories, an autobiography of his youth, a series of short articles on miscellaneous subjects, and La Bonne Souffrance, a popular account of his reconversion to the Roman Catholic Church. His conversion was due to a severe illness which twice brought him close to death. He was also interested with public affairs, joining the most violent section of the Nationalist movement (while remaining contemptuous of the apparatus of democracy) and taking a leading part against Alfred Dreyfus in the Dreyfus affair. He was one of the founders of the Ligue de la Patrie Française.
The poet Arthur Rimbaud, a young contemporary of Coppée, published numerous parodies of Coppée's poetry. Rimbaud's parodies were published in L'Album Zutique. Most of these poems parody the style ("chatty comfortable rhymes" that were "the delight of the enlightened bourgeois of the day") and form (Alexandrine couplets arranged in ten line verses) of some short poems by Coppée (examples can be found in the collection Promenades et Intérieurs). Rimbaud published them under the name François Coppée.
François Coppée's Works:
* Le Reliquaire (1866)
* Intimités (1867)
* Poémes modernes (1867-9)
* Les Humbles (1872)
* Le Cahier rouge (1874)
* Olivier (1875)
* L'Exilée (1876)
* Contes en vers (1881)
* Poèmes et récits (1886)
* Arrière-saison (1887)
* Paroles sincères (1890)
* Dans la prière et la lutte
* Vers français
* Le Passant (1869) (translated into Portuguese by Alves Crespo (playwright, 1847-1907) as Sonho and published in 1905)
* Deux Douleurs (1870)
* Fais Ce Que Dois (1871)
* L'Abandonnée (1871)
* Les Bijoux De La Délivrance (1872)
* Le Rendez-Vous (1872)
* Prologue D'Ouverture Pour Les Matinées De La Gaîté (1874)
* Le Luthier de Crémone (1876)
* La Guerre de Cent Ans (1877)
* Le Tresor (1879)
* La Bataille D'Hernani (1880)
* La Maison De Moliére (1880)
* Madame de Maintenon (1881)
* Severo Torelli (1883) (translated into Portuguese by Jaime Victor and Macedo Papança, Visconde de MOnsaraz and performed in Lisbon, at the National Theatre, in 1887; published in the same year).
* Les Jacobites (1885)
* Le Pater (1889) (translated into Portuguese by Margarida de Sequeira as O Pater)
* Pour la couronne (1895) (translated into English by John Davidson as For the Crown and performed in London, 1896)
* Une Idylle pendant le siège (187)
* Toute une jeunesse (1890)
* Les Vrais riches (1892)
* Le Coupable (1896)
* Mon franc-parler (1893-96) (articles)
* La Bonne Souffrance (1898)
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François Coppée Poems
Le toit, les ornements de fer et la margelle
Quand j'allais voir l'été les beaux soleils couchants
Avec le rêve aimé qui partout m'accompagne,
Le regret des rêveurs qui n'ont pas voyagé.
Au pays bleu mon âme en vain se réfugie,
Et souriant avec ce sourire qui tousse.
Et c'était monstrueux, cette enfant de sept ans
Je regarde au ciel avec mon désir,
Triste exilé, qu'il te souvienne
Combien l'avenir était beau,
Quand sa main tremblait dans la tienne
Comme un oiseau,
Et combien ton âme était pleine
D'une bonne et douce chaleur,
Quand tu respirais son haleine
Comme une fleur!