Poulenc was very clear that he thought of this work as a set of songs, rather than a cycle. The composer put the words together for the set from two sources: poems (iii) and (v), long-time favourites, were taken from the main part of Il y a
, that important posthumous collection (1925) of the poet’s works. Poulenc chanced on the texts for songs (ii) and (iv) in October 1940 as he nostalgically leafed through the literary reviews that he had collected in his adolescence: he alighted on Littérature
for 8 October 1919 where five Apollinaire poems, (ii) and (iv) among them, were published under the title Banalités
—so violà, now he had four poems to make a set and also a title. He now needed one more song with which to begin the cycle.
from notes by Graham Johnson © 2013