The Two Poets is set in the Provinces, in the town of Angouleme. David Sechard and Lucien Chardon are old school friends. David is running a printing business started by his father. Lucien Chardon's father has died, leaving Lucien, his sister Eve, and their mother without financial resources. They are denizens of the lower part of town. In the upper part of Angouleme reside Madame de Bargeton and her associates. The destitute Lucien aspires to join the society of the upper part of the town.