More than just a celebration of the Jorat, of a region of the Canton of Vaud, or of a pastoral existence in distress, Roud's descriptions summon the cycle of a rediscovery of fullness in the nearby environment. Incarnating at first the solitude and the strangeness of the world, the figure of the poet progresses toward a more holistic participation in the real, whether this works through the intermediary of the countryside (Air de la solitude), through a kind of bond—either friendly, or even erotic, with the farmer (Essai pour un paradis) or still yet through the possibility of rediscovering contact with the dead (Requiem). Calling upon an injunction of Novalis – “Paradise is spread out across the entire earth…one must gather together its disconnected lines” – Gustave Roud carefully seeks a sacred connection in ici et maintenant, and what he calls the "human paradise." Moving away from the traditional idyllic tone of 19th century Swiss poetry, Roud accentuates the tension confronted by fullness, because “a glass that is inviolable and pure" tragically separates man from the space he is able to glimpse. Besides this constantly reiterated “quest” and the breadth of his prose writings, another remarkable element of his approach consists of backing away from a celebration of alpine or lake settings, those vistas dubbed sublime since the Romantic period, preferring the rural landscapes of the lowlands (Petit traité de la march en plaine, 1932). In this way, the Haut-Jorat region thus becomes a poetic space not only in terms of seeking out an opening into the immediate environment, but also in terms of highlighting a new aesthetic, especially with respect to the literary dominance of Ramuz in French-speaking Switzerland.

Gustave Roud, Page de couverture de l’édition originale du Petit Traité de la marche en plaine, Mermod, 1932.

Recommended reading

A volume entitled “Poesie” from Gallimard offers the best point of entry into Roud’s mature poems. It assembles Air de la solitude, Pour un Moissonneur, Requiem. It is also possible to consult the paperback edition in the “Poche Suisse” collection from L’Âge d’Homme which collects three earlier texts: Essai pour un paradis, Petit Traité de la marche en plaine.

Gustave Roud, Air de la solitude, Gallimard, « Poésie », 2002.

Gustave Roud, Essai pour un paradis, L’Âge d’Homme, « Poche suisse », 1995.