The Bestiary

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The Bestiary, 30 short poems celebrating mammals, birds, fish, insects and the mythical poet Orpheus appeared in 1911 and was Apollinaire's first published work. Although they appear slight, the poems inspired the artist Raoul Dufy to illustrate each of them with a woodcut (5 of the 30 woodcuts are reproduced in the chapbook) and the composer Francis Poulenc to set six of them to music. The poems - witty, ironical and full of surprising images - show Apollinaire's mastery of short form poetry, and Martin Sorrell's superb rhyming translation perfectly preserves the spirit of the original. Although many individual poems from The Bestiary have been published in translation, this chapbook is one of the very few complete editions to appear, and with an introduction and explanatory notes by the translator, it is a perfect introduction to Apollinaire's poetry.