French Symbolist Poet and Critic
Stephane Mallarme, born Étienne Mallarmé
French Symbolist Poet and Critic
These nymphs I would perpetuate. So clear their light carnation, that it floats in the air heavy with tufted slumbers. Was it a dream I loved?
This was the glorious culmination of what I had longed for, those ideal flowers that I had sought, and my heart leaped within me to see the whole family of the flowers of the goddess Iris rise up in their turn at the prospect of my accepting the task of revealing their existence.
We do not write poems with ideas, but with words.
When slowly we breathe it out
When the sad sun sinks, it shall pierce through the body of wax till it shrinks! No sunset, but the red awakening of the last day concluding everything struggles so sadly that time disappears, the redness of apocalypse, whose tears fall on the child, exiled to her own proud heart, as the swan makes its plumage a shroud for its eyes, the old swan, and is carried away from the plumage of grief to the eternal highway of its hopes, where it looks on the diamonds divine of a moribund star, which never more shall shine!
Who, in the blissful dreams of my happy childhood used to hover above me sprinkling from her gentle hands snow-white clusters of perfumed stars.
Yes, I know, we are merely empty forms of matter, but we are indeed sublime in having invented God and our soul. So sublime, my friend, that I want to gaze upon matter, fully conscious that it exists, and yet launching itself madly into Dream, despite its knowledge that Dream has no existence, extolling the Soul and all the divine impressions of that kind which have collected within us from the beginning of time and proclaiming, in the face of the Void which is truth, these glorious lies!
Yes, I now know that far into the night the Earth is flinging a strange and mysterious shaft of light whose brilliance will only be increased as the grim centuries pass by.
I, proud of my rumor, for long I will talk of goddesses; and by picturings idolatrous,
Away with those perfumes that do me harm! I hate them, nurse, and would you have me feel their drunken vapors make my senses reel?
If only I'd chosen an easy work! But, precisely, I, who am sterile and crepuscular, have chosen a terrifying subject, whose sensations, if they are strong, reach the point of atrocity, and if they are vague, have the strange attitude of mystery. And my Verse hurts me at times, and wounds me as if it were of iron! I have, moreover, found an intimate and unique way of painting and noting down the very fleeting impressions. I should add, which is even more terrifying, that all these impressions follow one another as in a symphony, and I often have entire days when I ask myself if this impression can accompany that one, what is their relationship and effect ? You can guess that I write few lines in a week.
Bears witness to some cigar burning skillfully while the ash is separated far from its bright kiss of fire. So does the choir of romantic art fly towards the lips exclude from it if you start the real because it?s cheap meaning too precise is sure to void your dreamy literature.
Illumined by the principle that chose my consecration it extends a salutation.
Child sprung from the two of us ? showing us our ideal, the way ? ours! Father and mother who sadly existing survive him as the two extremes ? badly coupled in him and sundered ? from whence his death ? obliterating this little child 'self'.
In a museum in London there is an exhibit called "The Value of Man": a long coffinlike box with lots of compartments where they've put starch ? phosphorus ? flour ? bottles of water and alcohol ? and big pieces of gelatin. I am a man like that.
Degas was discussing poetry with Mallarm‚; "It isn't ideas I'm short of... I've got too many" [Ce ne sont pas les id‚es qui me manquent... J'en ai trop], said Degas. "But Degas," replied Mallarm‚, "you can't make a poem with ideas. ? You make it with words."
In the labor of my patience, atlas, herbal, ritual.
Etna! 'tis amid you, visited by Venus on your lava fields placing her candid feet, when a sad stillness thunders wherein the flame dies. I hold the queen!
Inert, all burns in the fierce hour.
From their shades unloose yet more of their girdles: so when of grapes the clearness I've sucked, to banish regret by my ruse disavowed, laughing, I lift the empty bunch to the sky, blowing into its luminous skins and athirst to be drunk, till the evening I keep looking through. oh nymphs, we diverse memories refill.
It isn't ideas I'm short of... I've got too many (Degas on discussing poetry with Mallarme, who replied)'Degas, you can't make a poem with ideas-you make it with words.
He sees, on the horizon filled with light, golden galleons as lovely as swans, moored on a broad river of scented purple.
Magical shadow with symbolic powers! A voice from the distant past, an evocation, is it not mine prepared for incantation?
How, save through obscure terrors, imagine more implacable still and as a suppliant the god who someday will receive the gift of your grace! and for whom, devoured by anguish, do you keep the unknown splendor and mystery of your being?
My breast, though proof-less, still attests a bite mysterious, due to some august tooth; but enough! for confidant such mystery chose the great double reed which one plays 'neath the blue.