Friday, May 11, 2012

Attack of the enigmatic poem!

Some wit once said that Mallarmé was a poet so difficult that only foreigners could understand him. There is this much truth in this: foreigners do not read paragraphs or even whole sentences; they read word by word. That is how these poems are to be read, not only to be understood, but even to be appreciated. And they cannot be understood without being appreciated…. The art of reading Mallarmé requires us to realize that the enigmatic surface of his poetry does not cover or hide a secret; and we cannot discard the surface once the treasure has been unearthed. The solution to the enigma is on the surface, which itself becomes the treasure as our experience of it grows. 

-- Charles Rosen

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