Paul Valery

(1871 - 1945 / Sete / France)

Paul Valery Quotes

  • ''A work is never completed except by some accident such as weariness, satisfaction, the need to deliver, or death: for, in relation to who or what is making it, it can only be one stage in a series of inner transformations.''
    Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. "Recollection," Collected Works, vol. 1 (1972).
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  • ''Poe is the only impeccable writer. He was never mistaken.''
    Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. Letter to writer André Gide. quoted in Julian Symons, The Tell-Tale Heart: The Life and Works of Edgar Allan Poe, pt. 1, epilogue (1978).
  • ''Science is feasible when the variables are few and can be enumerated; when their combinations are distinct and clear. We are tending toward the condition of science and aspiring to do it. The artist works out his own formulas; the interest of science lies in the art of making science.''
    Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 14, "Analects," ed. J. Matthews (1970). Moralités (1932).
  • ''Science means simply the aggregate of all the recipes that are always successful. All the rest is literature.''
    Paul Valéry (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. repr. In Collected Works, vol. 14, "Analects," ed. J. Matthews (1970). Moralités (1932).

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The Steps

Your steps, children of my silence,
Holily, slowly placed,
Towards the bed of my vigilance
Proceed dumb and frozen.

Nobody pure, divine shade,
That they are soft, your steps selected!
Gods!… all the gifts which I guess
Come to me on these naked feet!

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