As he was leaving for war service in 1918 Adrienne Monnier handed Poulenc a packet of books which included a later edition of Apollinare’s work. The composer had already heard the poet read his lyrics, and he fell in love with them, selecting twelve to set to music in Pont-sur-Seine where he found himself stationed.
Having set these twelve poems to music, Poulenc reduced the number to six on the advice of Georges Auric. On learning that Louis Durey, fellow-member of Les Six, was working at the same time on setting the entire collection, Poulenc rather gallantly dedicated his own set to Durey.
The poems Poulenc chose for his published Le bestiaire were numbers 10, 4, 17, 19, 22 and 23 of Apollinaire’s collection.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013