‘Exaltation’ by Anna de Noailles

'Exaltation' by Anna de Noailles

I was introduced to French poetess Anna de Noailles through a recent read, ‘The Age of Desire‘. Jennie Field’s describes de Noailles through her main character, Edith Wharton’s eyes.

‘Edith looks at Anna de Noailles and see the world altering before her eyes. Her ease, her acceptance are thrilling and disconcerting. She clearly wears no corset beneath the diaphanous gown. She is not afraid to show off those luminous bosoms to which she has called attention. Her glossy hair is dark and uncontrolled. Insubordinate hair, Edith thinks with amusement. Everything about de Noailles is made to seduce. There isn’t a man at the table who isn’t stirred by her. Even those who aren’t the least interested in women. She can see it in their rosy cheeks and burning eyes, as though just glancing intoxicates.’

How could I not be interested in learning more after this glorious introductory passage? Through some exploring I was able to find only pieces of Anna de Noailles poetry, as it appears that a good portion of her work has not been translated from her native French. Below is my favorite thus far.

I have the taste for what is ardent and intense,
Delirious crowds and bodies, a heroic role
In life, such bitter, acrid smells are like incense
To my tumultuous heart and my excessive soul.