During a tragically short life, Jules Laforgue (1860-87) created a poetic persona so powerful it decisively influenced the work of the young T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound. Deeply pessimistic yet full of yearning, tender yet savagely self-mocking, Laforgue has a unique voice and vision which none the less mark him out as one of the founding fathers of modernism. Like Baudelaire before him, he was determined to face up to the ugly and 'decadent' as well as the conventionally poetic aspects of himself and the world about him. He pioneered the use of coarse colloquialism, startling rhymes and astonishing invented words. This is, writes his editor and translator Graham Dunstan Martin, 'one of the musical masterpieces of literature'.