Alcools est un recueil pluriel, polyphonique, qui explore de nombreux aspects de la poésie, allant de l'élégie au vers libre, mélangeant le quotidien aux paysages rhénans dans une poésie qui se veut expérimentale, alliant une presque perfection formelle et une grande beauté à un hermétisme, un art du choc, de l'électrochoc, qui valut à Apollinaire d'être qualifié de mystificateur.
Revell (Beautiful Shirt) buoyantly delivers into English the swift visions and odd, bright beauty of Alcools (originally published in 1913), arguably one of this century's most inventive and influential books of poetry. Apollinaire, writes Revell, ``introduced the century to its true self.'' He popularized the term ``surrealism'' and, in poems like the sparkling ``Zone'' and the more magisterial but no less energetic ``The Harvest Month,'' strove to bring a form of cubism to poetry through the use of verbal collage, polyphony and highly extracted urban imagery, all of which later had a profound effect on American Modernism and the Beats. In translations facing the original French, Revell has maintained the deliberate awkwardness of Apollinaire's free verse, his informal slant rhymes and assonance. Contoured and complex, Alcools has aged well, retaining its ability to illuminate the modern experience with rare force and whimsy: ``Listen to me I am the gullet of Paris/ If it pleases me I will swallow all of creation/ Listen to my songs of cosmic drunkenness...''