Giraud was born Emile Albert Kayenbergh in Leuven, Belgium. He studied law at the University of Leuven. He left university without a degree and took up journalism and poetry. In 1885, Giraud became a member of La Jeune Belgique, a Belgian nationalist literary movement that met at the Café Sésino in Brussels. Giraud became chief librarian at the Belgian Ministry of the Interior.
He was a Symbolist poet. His published works include Pierrot lunaire: Rondels bergamasques (1884), a poem cycle based on the commedia dell'arte figure of Pierrot, and La Guirlande des Dieux (1910). The composer Arnold Schönberg set a German-language version (translated by Otto Erich Hartleben) of selections from his Pierrot Lunaire to innovative atonal music. In a different, late romantic style, some of Hartleben's translations found their way into the vocal works of Joseph Marx.