Sunday, August 5, 2012
Saint-John Perse (first Saint-Leger Leger, pseudonyms of Alexis Leger) (1887 – 1975) was a French poet, awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1960 "for the soaring flight and evocative imagery of his poetry." He was also a major French diplomat from 1914 to 1940, after which he lived primarily in the
USA until 1967.
government dismissed him from the Légion d'honneur order and revoked his French
citizenship (it was reinstated after the war.) He was in some financial
difficulty as an exile in Washington
until Archibald MacLeish, Director of the Library of Congress and himself a
poet, raised sufficient private donations to enable the Library to employ Perse
until his official retirement from the French civil service in 1947. Perse
declined a teaching position at . Harvard
During his American exile, Perse wrote his long poems Exil, Vents, Pluies, Neiges, Amers, and Chroniques. He remained in the
USA long after
the end of the Second World War ended, traveling extensively, observing nature,
and enjoying the friendship of, among others, U.S. President Franklin D.
Roosevelt's Attorney General Francis Biddle and his spouse, author Katherine
Garrison Chapin. Leger was on good terms with the UN Secretary General and
author Dag Hammarskjöld. In 1957, American friends gave him a villa at Giens in
Provence, and from that time on, he split his
time between France and the United States.
In 1958, he married the American Dorothy Milburn Russell.
In 1960, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.