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(1871 - 1945 / Sete / France)

Quotations

  • ''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).
  • ''For the musician, before he has begun his work, all is in readiness so that the operation of his creative spirit may find, right from the start, the appropriate matter and means, without any possibility of error. He will not have to make this matter and means submit to any modification; he need only assemble elements which are clearly defined and ready-made. But in how different a situation is the poet! Before him is ordinary language, this aggregate of means which are not suited to his purpose, not made for him. There have not been physicians to determine the relationships of these means for him; there have not been constructors of scales; no diapason, no metronome, no certitude of this kind. He has nothing but the coarse instrument of the dictionary and the grammar. Moreover, he must address himself not to a special and unique sense like hearing, which the musician bends to his will, and which is, besides, the organ par excellence of expectation and attention; but rather to a general and diffused expectation, and he does so through a language which is a very odd mixture of incoherent stimuli.''
    Paul Valery (1871-1945), French poet, essayist. Originally delivered as a lecture (late 1927). "Pure Poetry: Notes for a Lecture," The Creative Vision, Grove (1960).
  • ''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 Graveyard By The Sea

This quiet roof, where dove-sails saunter by,
Between the pines, the tombs, throbs visibly.
Impartial noon patterns the sea in flame --
That sea forever starting and re-starting.
When thought has had its hour, oh how rewarding
Are the long vistas of celestial calm!
What grace of light, what pure toil goes to form
The manifold diamond of the elusive foam!
What peace I feel begotten at that source!

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