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Between Baudelaire and Mallarmé Helen Abbott Voice, Conversation and Music

  The stark differences in the way poems by Baudelaire and Mallarmé sound to the ear or feel on the lips are an indication not simply of each poet’sown distinctive ‘voice’, but also of how the developing aesthetic of each poet reflects a particular attentiveness to the effects created by the voice of the textitself. The purpose of this opening section on rhetorical practices is to establish both the frameworkwithin which the poets were working, and a theoretical framework for exploring the aesthetic outcomes of the concept of ‘voice’ within the context of a freshapproach to Baudelaire and Mallarmé which considers their work in dialogue.

3.2 Sensation keywords

  The stark differences in the way poems by Baudelaire and Mallarmé sound to the ear or feel on the lips are an indication not simply of each poet’sown distinctive ‘voice’, but also of how the developing aesthetic of each poet reflects a particular attentiveness to the effects created by the voice of the textitself. The purpose of this opening section on rhetorical practices is to establish both the frameworkwithin which the poets were working, and a theoretical framework for exploring the aesthetic outcomes of the concept of ‘voice’ within the context of a freshapproach to Baudelaire and Mallarmé which considers their work in dialogue.

4 Charles Baudelaire, Œuvres complètes, ed. by Claude Pichois, Bibliothèque de la

  whilst i do not attempt to do a full analysis of all the Baudelaire or Mallarmé poems set to music (since this would go far beyond the intended scopeof the present study), I shall focus briefly on a small number of examples which demonstrate the ways in which the exchange between poetry and music is alwayscomplicated by disruptions, irregular patternings and disappearances. the differences in interpretationand reading that arise from different settings of a poem will remind us that the relationship between music and poetry is a productive one because the aestheticresponse that is able to emerge actively engages with lingering vestiges of different voices which gradually lose themselves in a process of exchange.

Chapter 1 Poetic Principles:

  Rhetorical treatisestraditionally emphasised the importance of coherence, whereby each of the five processes Poetic Principles: Rhetoric, Prosody and Music Innovative, questioning poets such as Baudelaire and Mallarmé make the uncertainty of poeticity a necessary and integral feature of their writing; theyrecognise that any endeavour to codify or classify poetic language, with the specific aim of guaranteeing a particular response, is erroneous. Baudelaire’s references to ‘Satan’ or ‘le diable’ offer more than simplya personification of the spirit of evil or decadence: his identification with Satan is due in part to the notion that the alliance between the devil and the domain of hell(as is made particularly explicit in ‘Au lecteur’) serves to strengthen Baudelaire’s own position as a poet through the resonances that this sparks with the importantpoet figures of Dante’s Inferno.

1 September 896):

  (v.12–14) [whilst the fragrance of the green tamarind trees,which circulates in the air and swells my nostrils, Mixes with the song of the sailors in my soul.] The fragrance of the tamarind tree, like the aroma of the flowers carried by the ‘brise’ in Mallarmé’s sonnet ‘dans le jardin’, is carried through the airand intermingles with the singing voices of the sailors. using a digitised version of the text is not a substitute for reading it in the original,but rather a kinetic dimension of reading which, while it may be experienced independently, is fully understood only in relation to its tradition and to the intervention it makes into that Between Baudelaire and Mallarmé presents an interactive version of the text, which effectively allows the reader to build a ‘do-it-yourself’ rendition of the poem.

25 Heather williams’ analysis of this text, for example, reminds us that ‘words not

only can belong to more than one syntactic or phonetic sequence, but must do so, because “ordinary” linear reading is thwarted at every turn, forcing the reader to take account of itsdepth or space, and not only of its progress forward’. Heather williams, Mallarmé’s Ideasin Language

Chapter 3 Vocal resonance She smiled at him, making sure that the smile gathered up everything inside her and

  in this respect, the ‘effacement’ of words that Mallarmé had longed for in the october1864 letter to Cazalis is part of a process which is still beholden to words, but the words must be explored in their most transitory, ephemeral state, because theymust be able to offer the potential for differing meanings if the more profound‘effet produit’ is to be achieved. I , p.731)[I extract this sonnet, which I first dreamt of this summer, from a planned study on the Spoken word: it is inverse and by that i mean that the meaning, ifthere is one, (but I would console myself of the contrary thanks to the dose of poetry it contains, it seems to me) is evoked by an internal mirage of the wordsthemselves.

chapter i n Mallarmé and Circumstance: the Translation of Silence

  I , p.416) Vocal Resonance[I left my apartment with the sensation of a wing stroking the strings of an instrument, lingering and light, which was replaced by a voice speaking thewords in a descending tone: ‘The Penultimate one is dead’.] that Mallarmé transposes the lingering sensation of the softly strummed stringed instrument into a verbalised description is evidence of his endeavour to explorethe meaning of the sensation. that between ‘Passait’ and ‘laissant’ there is nothingmore than a comma (and that the two words not only look but also sound similar in the reflected patterns of the [a] vowel and the double ‘s’) establishes a tightrapport which is at once challenged by the syntactic pull of each of the words.the interstice between what is past and what remains is one of both proximity and16 distance: the proximity is textual, the distance is semantic.

5. Le moment de la Notion d’un objet est donc le moment de la réflexion de son présent pur en lui-même ou sa pureté présente

  From the solitude of the night, to the multitude of the street (v.9–10), the fluctuating presence of the woman’s phantom raises questions as to the status of the reported9 the anaphora of ‘Que ce soit’ mirrors the anaphora ofspeech of the final tercet.the opening question ‘Que diras-tu’, and expresses an ambivalence towards the different settings in which the woman’s phantom is presented and occasionallyspeaks. as leo Bersani also outlines, ‘Mallarmé’s references to the silences of poetry may be thought of as a way of emphasizing the non-adherence of sense to the words which Exchanging Voices Rather like the way Baudelaire, in his poetry, writes at times of thriving on being in amongst the crowd, and at others seeking to distance himself from it,Mallarmé’s relationship with ‘la foule’ in this instance is nuanced by context.

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