What is poetry according to Alfred de Musset

Impromptu
(In answer to the question, “what is poetry?”)

To range all memory and to fix all thought ;
To hold it poised in balance on a beam of gold,
Uncertain, tremulous, yet all immovable;
To eternalize one moment’s reverie ;
To love and seek the true, the beautiful;
To sing, to laugh, to weep, without much cause;
perchance,
To make of sigh, of word, of smile, of look,
A work exquisite, full of grace and charm;
To fashion from a tear a lustrous pearl:
These are the fond desires of poet’s heart;
These are his wealth, his life, and his ambition’s


Alfred de Musset
in The complete writings of Alfred de Musset, translated by George Santayana, Emily Shaw Forman, Marie Agathe Clarke.

drawing of the poet who converts his tears into pearls

Version française

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