- Birthday, Quotes, Reading, Writing

Stéphane Mallarmé on Art, Language, Writing, Poetry, and More.


Happy birthday, Stéphane Mallarmé! Here are some quotes from his writing.


“The world was made in order to result in a beautiful book.”


“It is in front of the paper that the artist creates himself.”


“We do not write poems with ideas, but with words.”


“I am inventing a language that must necessarily burst forth from a very new poetics, that could be defined in a couple of words: Paint, not the thing, but the effect it produces…the line of poetry in such a case should be composed not of words, but of intentions, and all the words should fade away before the sensation.”


“Thus, in reading, a lonely, quiet concert is given for our minds, and they in turn, less noisily, reach its meaning. All our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation; but, unlike music, they will be rarefied, for they partake of thought.”


“Poetry, accompanied by the idea, is perfect music, and cannot be anything else.”


“Everything takes place, through foreshortening, as hypothesis; narrative is avoided. Add that this naked use of thought with recesses, extensions, leakages, or its very arrangement, produces, for whoever would read aloud, a musical score.”


“Yes, I know, we are merely empty forms of matter, but we are indeed sublime in having invented God and our soul.”


“The poetic act consists in suddenly seeing that an idea splits into a number of motives of equal value and in grouping them; they rhyme.”


“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.”


“I am alone in my monotonous country,
While all those around me live in the idolatry
Of a mirror reflecting in its depths serene […]”
—from “Hérodiade”


“The work of pure poetry implies the elocutionary disappearance of the poet, who yields the initiative to words.”


“And when, a moment ago, I was sketching those winding and mobile variations of the Idea which are the prerogative of the written word, some of you may have been reminded of certain orchestral phrasings in which we hear, first, a withdrawal to the shades, swirls and uneasy hesitation, and then suddenly the bursting, leaping, multiple ecstasy of brilliance, like the approaching radiance of sunrise.”


“Words rise up unaided and in ecstasy; many a facet reveals its infinite rarity and is precious to our mind. For our mind is the center of this hesitancy and oscillation; it sees the words not in their usual order, but in projection (like the walls of a cave), so long as that mobility which is their principle lives on, that part of speech which is not spoken. Then quickly, before they die away, they all exchange their brilliancies from afar; or they may touch, and steal a furtive glance.”


Leave a Reply