Unreal Nature

January 6, 2018

The Ear Speaks

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 5:40 am

… The subject of a poem is as foreign to it and as important, as his name is to a man.

This is from the essay ‘Literature’ found in Selected Writings of Paul Valéry (1950; 1964):

In the poet:
The ear speaks,
The mouth listens;
It is intelligence, vigilance,, that gives birth to dream;
It is sleep that sees clearly;
It is the image and the phantom that look;
It is the lack and the blank that create.

[ … ]

The subject of a poem is as foreign to it and as important, as his name is to a man.

[ … ]

It sometimes happens that the mind seeks poetry or the continuation of poetry in some source or hidden divinity.

But the ear demands a certain sound when the mind demands a certain word whose sound does not conform to the ear’s desire.

[ … ]

Under the heading of classical, people placidly and indiscriminately include writers who say very little in endless sentences; writers who have simply propounded old wives’ verities; others who show a crude vigor, or a defense counsel’s verbosity, or an exquisite affected elegance; others who observe an obvious and very pronounced regularity, or the rules of the game.

[ … ]

… Between classical and romantic the difference is very simple: it is the difference that separates the one who is ignorant of his technique and the one who has learned his.

A romantic who has learned his art becomes a classic. That is why romanticism ended in Parnasse.

My most recent previous post from Valéry’s book is here.

-Julie

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