The Isolation of the Image: T. E. Hulme
The 'free verse' movement, which is the contemporary phase of that cult of sincerity initiated by Coleridge, has been world-wide in its development, but it had its origins in France during the 1880's. It penetrated to England (if we ignore some abortive experiments by Stephen Phillips) about 1907. Its wider diffusion in the English-speaking world has been due to its adoption by the two most significant poets of our time, Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot, but they were not, in any precise technical sense, the originators of the movement, even in England.
In Le Livre des Masques ( first edition, Paris, 1896) Remy de Gourmont gives the credit of invention to three poets: Rimbaud, Laforgue and Gustave Kahn. 'To whom do we owe vers libre?', he asks. 'To Rimbaud, whose Illuminations appeared in the review Vogue in 1886, to Laforgue who at the same period, in the same precious little review--edited by Gustave Kahn--published his Légende and Solo de Lune, and, finally, to M. Kahn himself, ever since he wrote:
Voici l'allégresse des âmes d'automne,
La ville s'évapore en illusions proches,
Voici se voiler de violet et d'orangé les porches
De la nuit sans lune.
Princesse, qu'as-tu fait de la tiare orfévrée?