A New Year
The new year began, as the world fell into a state of unprecedented calm. And the farmer dropped his sickle and froze, witnessing a spectacle overwhelming in its common majesty. The sky was the brightest of blues, unblemished by cloud, the fields stretching before him were as the purest gold and without shadow. The wheat was plentiful and the hive ran with a honey rivaling the gold of the fields. Beyond, the streams were bright and clear as if poured from a crystals infinite center.
The children ceased their play and stood in baffled silence as a host of luminous balloons, wider than great ships, hovered, dipped as if in greeting, then ascended deep into that same blue.
Bowls of bread and fish and fruit materialized in the hands of the hungry. The sun drew the water from raging flood, relieving the saturated earth. The rain satiated drought and the desert flourished. Rivers teamed with fish, pink and plentiful. And the lame ran, the blind spun in a new radiance, and the sick rose refreshed.
The healing worm rose from the clay of creation and the tongue of every living thing brought forth understanding. And laughter rang out and the grieving were comforted. Bells of silver chimed and all bowed their heads, giving thanks. And rainbows circled the earth like the rings of Saturn, and all dipped their fingers into its formlessness and knew that it was good.
Paul Valéry, The Art of Poetry, Introduction by T.S. Eliot, 1985
Gregory loved Keats and Shelley and would stagger into the lobby with his trousers hanging low, eloquently speqing their verses. When I mourned my inability to finish any of my poems, he quotes Paul Valéry to me: "Poets don't finish thier poems, they abandon them"... - Patti Smith, Just Kids
Paul Valéry was a French poet, essayist, and philosopher. In addition to his poetry and fiction (drama and dialogues), his interests included aphorisms on art, history, letters, music, and current events. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature in 12 different years.
All of Valéry's major meditations on the theory and practice of poetry are included in The Art of Poetry. T. S. Eliot writes in his introduction that Valery "invented, and was to impose upon his age, ... a new conception of the poet." As described by Valery, the poet is a "cool scientist, almost an algebraist, in the service of a subtle dreamer." Valery focuses his attention on the deliberate formal work that transforms the dream into the poem, in his own poems, as well as in those of La Fontaine, Victor Hugo, Baudelaire, the Symbolists, Mallarme, Rimbaud, and others.
CLICK HERE to read the first four chapters of The Art of Poetry