|French literary history|
Francis Jammes (Tournay, Hautes-Pyrénées December 2, 1868 - Hasparren, Pyrénées-Atlantiques) November 1, 1938) was a French poet. He spent most of his life in his native region of Béarn and the Basque Country and his poems are known for their lyricism and for singing the pleasures of a humble country life (donkeys, maidens). His later poetry remained lyrical, but also included a strong religious element brought on by his conversion to Catholicism.
The young author's first poems began to be read in Parisian literary circles around 1895, and they were appreciated for their fresh tone which broke considerably from symbolist tendencies of the period. Jammes frequented other writers, including André Gide (with whom he travelled to Algeria in 1896), Stéphane Mallarmé and Henri de Régnier. His most famous collection of poems -- De L'angélus de l'aube à l'angélus du soir -- appeared in 1897 in the Mercure de France; Le Deuil des Primevères (1901) was also well received. While working up to this point as a notary's clerk, the author was henceforth able to live from his writings. In 1905 Francis Jammes, influenced by the poet Paul Claudel with whom he became close, converted to Catholicism and his poetry became more austere and occasionally more dogmatic.
In the eyes of Parisian literary circles, Francis Jammes was generally considered a solitary provincial who chose to live a life of retreat in his mountainous Pyrenees, and his poems never became entirely fashionable. The author sought nomination to the Académie française several times, but was never elected.
Jammes was the original author of Georges Brassens's song La Prière. The lyrics were taken from the poem Les mystères douloureux published in the collection L'église habillée de feuilles (1906); Brassens changed some of the words to make to text more rhythmic.