Five Great Odes
Paul Claudel's Five Great Odes constitutes one of the great twentieth-century achievements in lyric poetry. Equally earthy and prayerful, perennially and universally relevant in their ecological and sacramental vision, the Odes deserve to be celebrated alongside T. S. Eliot's Four Quartets and Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies.
PAUL CLAUDEL was born in 1868 in rural northeastern France. He absorbed the poetry of Walt Whitman and Arthur Rimbaud while in his teens, and experienced a religious epiphany at Notre Dame cathedral during Christmas 1886. Claudel was productive in many literary genres. Besides the Odes, his masterpieces include the dramas Le Partage de midi (The Break of Noon), L'Annonce faite à Marie (The Tidings Brought to Mary), and Le Soulier de satin (The Satin Slipper). The poet served throughout the world in the French diplomatic corps, and died in 1955.