Le Pont Mirabeau was written in 1912, after Apollinaire had separated from a romantic companion, Marie Laurencin. In a letter to a friend in 1915, the poet said of his monologue poem that it was «unechanson triste de cette longue liaison brisée», and the work can be read as a meditation on the ephemeral nature of love. It is a song of metamorphosis, and it sings of the slippery and unstablestatus of things. The structure, argumentation, tone, language and stylistic technique of the poem all dynamically interplay to support the themes of stasis, movement, change and permanence of love, time,place and self.

This musical, elegiac poem is composed of four strophes and four refrains. Each strophe, or stanza is a quatrain of four vers, or lines, and here lies a structural clue to thetheme - these quatrains are composed of three decasyllabic (tercets) of which the central vers is broken in two (of four and six syllables respectively, of which the second retains the feminine rhyme),creating a fixed rhythm which is maintained throughout the poem. This central, broken vers can be seen as a liaison between the two vers on either side, and the symbolically ruptured link or ‘bridge’which appears nostalgically intact in the image of the «pont de nos bras» of the second strophe.

The argumentation of the poem is fluid, as the Seine which is transformed into l’amour, le temps,and also as the pont which metamorphoses into and out of «le pont de nos bras». The strophes, then, show a development of the themes of the poem, with harmonious transitions, musically andconceptually. The first strophe describes the passing of the Seine beneath the bridge and creates a syntactically ambiguous link between «la Seine» and «nos amours», and draws attention to a cycling alternationof opposites: «La joie venait toujours après la peine».Thus we have immediately a blurring of boundaries, and a suggestion that apparent opposites are part of a natural order which mediates their... [à continuer]

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