Ma source (My Source) is an 1877 poem by Guy de Maupassant, an author well-known for sexual experimentation, and determined to express his erotic interests regardless of public criticism. Collot’s illustrations are as direct as Maupassant’s verses, and make for a perfect match of word and image.

Here is Maupassant’s poem, in the original French and in English translation.

Ma Source

Je n’ai point assez du baiser
Dont se contente tout le monde
Et la source où je veux puiser
Est plus cachée et plus profonde!

De votre bouche elle est la sœur!
En pied d’une blanche colline
J’y parviendrai, dans l’épaisseur
D’un buisson frisé qui s’incline.

Elle est fermée et l’on y boit
En écartant un peu la mousse
Avec la bouche, avec le doigt
Nulle soif ne semble plus douce.

Près de l’entrée on trouvera
Ce rocher que frappait Moïse
Et je veux que ma bouche épuise
Ce flot d’amour qui jaillira!

Car ma caresse ardente et forte
A fait monter l’onde à ses bords!
Je suis à genoux ; c’est la porte
Du sanctuaire de ton corps.

Tu palpites ; je t’y sens vivre ;
Et je sens grandir, qui m’enivre,
L’arôme secret de tes flancs!
Car j’aime tes parfums troublants

Plus que l’odeur des forêts vertes,
Plus que la rose et le jasmin,
Source vive, aux lèvres ouvertes!
Et je t’emporte dans ma main.

Senteur divine ! Et ma moustache,
Ainsi qu’un souffle d’encensoir,
Jette à mon cerveau jusqu’au soir
Ce fumet où mon cœur s’attache!

My Source

I haven’t had enough of that kiss
Which everyone is happy with,
And the source from which I want to draw
Is more hidden and deeper!

For my mouth she is the sister!
At the foot of a white hill
I’ll arrive, in the thicket
Of the curly bush that grows down there.

It is closed, so we drink there
By spreading the moisture a little
With the mouth, with the finger;
No thirst seems sweeter.

Near the entrance we find
The rock that Moses struck,
And I want my mouth to taste
The stream of love that will flow!

My ardent and strong caresses
Raise the wave to its edges!
I am on my knees; this is the doorway
To the sanctuary of your body.

You throb; I can feel you living there,
And I can feel myself growing, which intoxicates me.
The secret aroma of your thighs!
I love your disturbing scents.

More than the smell of green forests,
More than rose and jasmine,
Living spring, with open lips!
And I take you in my hand.

Divine scent! And my moustache,
Like the breath of a censer,
Fills my brain until the evening,
This aroma to which my heart is attached!

The Collot-illustrated edition of Ma source was published by Édition des Trois in a limited numbered edition of 150 copies. 25 of the copies, as shown here, included both coloured and black-only versions of the twelve woodcuts, most of the latter including additional ‘remarques’ or small drawings at the bottom.