Les Chimères is a collection of twelve sonnets: El Desdichado, Myrtho, Horus, Antéros, Delfica, Artémis, Le Christ aux Oliviers, Vers dorés (Le Christ aux Oliviers alone comprises five sonnets).
The Chimères have left their mark on the history of French poetry through the language they develop and the poetic force they emanate. It’s a clear language whose meaning is obscure. Many critics have studied and continue to study these poems, in particular to discuss the presence of supposed keys, generally symbolic or esoteric. Some of these keys are obviously biographical: El Desdichado alludes to Gérard de Nerval’s two nervous breakdowns.
A reading of his dedication to Alexandre Dumas reveals his claim to hermeticism.
In it, he writes that “the poems of Les Chimères would lose their charm if they were explained, if that were possible, at least grant me the merit of expression; – the last folly left to me will be to believe myself a poet: it is up to critics to cure me of this.