Born in Lille, his family were Flemish and had long lived in the town or its suburbs. At the time of the poet's birth, his father, Jean-Baptiste Samain, and his mother, Elisa-Henriette Mouquet, conducted a business in "wines and spirits" at 75 rue de Paris. Samain's father died when he was quite young; it was necessary for him to leave school and seek a trade. He moved to Paris in around 1880, where his poetry won him a following and he began mixing with avant-garde literary society, and began publicly reciting his poems at Le Chat Noir. His poems were strongly influenced by those of Baudelaire, and began to strike a somewhat morbid and elegiac tone. He also was influenced by Verlaine; his works disclose a taste for indecisive, vague imagery. Samain helped found the Mercure de France, and also worked on the Revue des Deux Mondes.
Samain published three volumes of verse: Le jardin de l'infante (1893), which made him famous; Aux flancs du vase (1898) and Le Chariot d'or (1901). His poetic drama Polyphème was set to music by Jean Cras. Samain died of tuberculosis.
Camille Saint-Saëns set poems of Samain to music: "Six Mélodies sur des poésies d'Albert Samain" op.31 (1902-1906; orchestrated 1921)
|French Wikisource has original text related to this article:|
- Je rêve de vers doux et d'intimes ramages,
- De vers à frôler l'âme ainsi que des plumages,
- De vers blonds où le sens fluide se délie
- Comme sous l'eau la chevelure d'Ophélie,
- De vers silencieux, et sans rythme et sans trame
- Où la rime sans bruit glisse comme une rame,
- De vers d'une ancienne étoffe, exténuée,
- Impalpable comme le son et la nuée,
- De vers de soir d'automne ensorcelant les heures
- Au rite féminin des syllabes mineures.
- De vers de soirs d'amour énervés de verveine,
- Où l'âme sente, exquise, une caresse à peine...
- Je rêve de vers doux mourant comme des roses.
- --Le jardin de l'infante
- Six French Poets: Studies in Contemporary Literature. Amy Lowell. New York: Macmillan Company, 1915.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Albert Samain.|
|Wikisource has the text of a 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica article about Albert Samain.|
- Poems by Albert Samain English translations of Samain's poetry
- Poems by Albert Samain (in French): https://web.archive.org/web/20030219105826/http://poesie.webnet.fr/auteurs/samain.html
- SAMAIN Genealogy website