Distribution Automatique

Friday, July 6

The Music of Mallarme

""His aim....is to use words in such a harmonious combination as will suggest to the reader a mood or a condition *which is not mentioned in the text,* but is nevertheless paramount in the poet's mind at the moment of composition." That sums it up. I create music and give that name not to the music one can extract by the euphonious juxtaposition of words, this primary condition is self-evident; but the beyond, which is magically produced by certain dispositions of the word; where the word, moreover, is merely a means of material communication with the reader, like the notes of the piano. Truly, between the lines and above the glance, that communication is achieved in all purity, without the intervention of the catgut strings and the pistons of an orchestra, which is already industrial. Yet it's the same thing as an orchestra, but as literature, meaning silently. Poets throughout the ages have never done anything else, the only thing is that today it's amusing to be aware of it. Use Music in the Greek sense, meaning, basically, Idea or the rhythm between connections; in that case it's more divine than in the public or symphonic expression. This is very poorly expressed, in chatting, but you seize my meaning, or rather you have seized it throughout that fine study which you must keep as it is, intact. The only quibble I have to make is on obscurity; no, my dear poet, except through awkwardness or clumsiness, I'm not obscure, from the moment the reader seeks in my poetry what I ennumerate above, or the manifestation of an art which uses- let us say incidentally, I know the profound reason for this- language; and of course I become obscure if the reader makes the mistake of thinking he's opening a newspaper!"

From the Letters of Mallarme
February, 1893


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