I compose my spirit from under the myrtles- Orpheus,
I write, Exemplar thee! … Fire falls in descendent spirals:
He transforms the bare mountain, which awed is found—
A mountain cowed, a mountain crowned in majesty;
Whence resonance exhales, pure as the art
In an act of a sacred deity.
If the god should sing, as he sat on the rim
of a sky— t'would echo its own resplendence !
A wail would stun, a cry would shudder the high
harmonious hall— a call would ring, its golden walls would sing;
Return him the song of the sanctuary.
Sing Orpheus did, so to recount this scene:
The sun saw the horror of the moving stones;
A rock stepped; surprised, stumbled then— each flint, bewitched,
Felt dragged to sense, so found the azure-trance, awoken within
The living fire of delirium !
Evening bathes the temple unclothed in the boom
And, spontaneous, assumes to sing the soul,
As devotional hymn, in the shape of gold,
On the tempered strings of his,
The greatest lyre !
About this poem
Paul Valéry (1871-1945) was a French Symbolist poet. He wrote this poem in 1891, rewriting in 1926, either side of his great silence, a period of about 20 years where he ceased writing all together. It proved highly influential on various paradigms and thinkers that wove Orpheus into their creative imaginings.