Chansons pour elles (Songs for the Women) is the tenth poetic collection in verse by Paul Verlaine, published in 1891 by his regular publisher Léon Vanier. Composed of twenty-five medium-length poems, the collection was inspired by the poet’s liaisons with Philomène Boudin, also known as ‘Esther’, and with Eugenie Krantz, or ‘Mouton’.
With an erotic theme in the same vein as Parallalement (1889), but devoted to specific women, the language and symbolism of Chansons pour elles marked Verlaine’s final abandonment of all hope of salvation through religious faith. Liturgies intimes (Intimate Liturgies), published the following year, illustrate through their artificiality the failure of the poet’s spiritual enterprise in favour of the earthbound.
The Calbet illustrations for this edition of Verlaine’s poems show him at his most sparing, using different shades of red chalk to illustrate the intended simplicity of the poet’s love of the important women in his life.
Chansons pour elles was published by Éditions des Tablettes, Saint-Raphaël.