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Famous Poets and the Poetic Consciousness

            Of the poets we've explored in class, the one I felt have most connected to is Paul Valéry. I became absorbed with his thoughts and writings on literature, many of which I find to be applicable to art, and all of which have helped give me some perspective on this course. Valéry writes, "Thought is hidden in verse like the nutritive virtue in fruit. A fruit is nourishment but it seems to be nothing but pure delight. One perceives only pleasure but one receives a substance." Of the poet specifically he writes, "In the poet The ear speaks/ The mouth listens;/ It is intelligence, vigilance, that gives birth to dream;/ It is sleep that sees clearly;/ It is the image and the phantom that look;/ It is the lack and the blank that create." It is clear that Valéry is highly cognitive of his presence as the poet within his poetry. Valéry gives us a glimpse into his consciousness in the poem "The Footsteps". In "The Footsteps" we are inside Valéry's mind, feeling his anticipation as he watches his lover advance towards his bed. The language, in the original French, strikes us like the rhythm of a heartbeat. It has this incredible, clear ba-boom ba-boom beat to it when read aloud. It's as if Valéry's heart has slowed to match the timing of his lover's steps. I have had my friends who speak French read it to me several times over because its so beautifully executed. Then, "every gift I have imagined/ Comes to me on those naked feet." Here Valéry is simultaneously in the past, the present, and the future as he builds the suspense of the advance. He is physically waiting in the room, remembering desires of the past, and imagining what is just about to come all at once. We sense the bittersweet ecstasy in the agony of apprehension. It is almost as if the expectation is killing him, and yet he loves it. We know this because suddenly he asks her, "Oh hasten not this loving act.

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