Fall 1958 • Vol. XX No. 4 Nonfiction |

Towards a Post-Kantian Verbal Music

Since Paul Valéry's theory of poetry1 in general is so closely associated with his speculations on the genesis of his own poems, we could properly begin by quoting a passage in which he sums up his own ways of developing a poem: If I am questioned; if anyone wonders . . . what I "wanted to say" in a certain poem, I rep!y that I did not want to say but wanted to make, and that it was the intention of making which wanted what I said. . . . As for the Cimetiére marin, this intention was first no more than a rhythmic figure, empty, or filled with meaningless syllables, which obsessed me for some time. . . . It suggested a certain stanza of six lines, and the idea of a composition founded on the number of these stanzas and strengthened by a diversity of tones and functions to be assigned to them. Between the stanzas, contrasts or correspondences would be set up. This last condition soon required the potential poem to be a monologue of "self," in which the simplest and most endu

Already have an account? Login

Join KR for even more to read.

Register for a free account to read five free pieces a month from our current issue and digital archive.
Register for Free and Read This Piece



Or become a subscriber today and get complete, immediate access to our digital archives at every subscription level.

Read More

Four Master Tropes

By Kenneth Burke

Since Paul Valéry's theory of poetry1 in general is so closely associated with his speculations on the genesis of his own poems, we could properly begin by quoting a passage […]

Subscribe

Your free registration with Kenyon review incudes access to exclusive content, early access to program registration, and more.

Donate

With your support, we’ll continue 
to cultivate talent and publish extraordinary literature from diverse voices around the world.