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Ponedeljak, 09 Avgust 2021 11:14

Stéphane Mallarmé's The Swan symbolically depicts the tragic rift between poetry and life Istaknut

The Swan by Henri Matisse from Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, 1932 The Swan by Henri Matisse from Poems by Stéphane Mallarmé, 1932

French poet and one of the foremost contributors to French symbolism in poetry, Stéphane Mallarmé spread his new poetics based on the introduction of free verse and the construction of the poem around a central symbol using the image to symbolize an abstract aspect of the human mind. His poetry is dominated by the pursuit of pure language, and the reader only senses the meaning of the poem. One of his most famous poems is the Sonnet about the Swan or The Swan as it is often called, published in 1876. It evokes Mallarmé's sense of exile in which the poet is found among men, like a bird that is prevented from flying.

The Swan begins with the verse: "The virginal, enduring, beautiful today." It seems to have wandered in from a sunnier poem. But, the subsequent sentences are impacted and fractured, the jamming together of disconnected images. The first stanza shifts between future and past, hope and disappointment. The swan is caught in the ice of the lake and looks at it arrogantly. "A swan of old remembers it is he magnificent but who without hope frees himself for never having sung a place to live when the boredom of sterile winter was resplendent". His silhouette is strong, beautiful, and lively, but he is now prevented from living, and freely expressing his opinion. Horror returns in "Fantôme", the first word of the final stanza. By the end, a relatively clear, almost Romantic picture has emerged: a swan is trapped in ice, unable to take flight. In the last line, we discover that some flights didn't escape from beneath the transparent ice.

The symbolist song The Swan is hermetic and has a particularly prominent musicality. The swan is a symbol of a poet who is constrained in creation and free thought, and his rapt wing is the poet's creative enthusiasm. He symbolically depicts the tragic rift between poetry and life. By his appearance in white agony, he becomes a symbol of the poet, but also a special poetic word. Frozen lake, frost, and hoarfrost symbolize the civic environment, the society that restrains him. The swan tries in vain to free himself from the icy dungeon that surrounds him and the ground is an obstacle for him. He feels the horror of the ground and the society from which he is trying to free. Also, he tries to shake death, free himself, and fly. Everyday existence presented in winter will break the life of a poet who cannot sing in his agony, like a swan. Not even the swan in the song managed to announce itself with the most beautiful song before death. "Phantom assigned to this place by pure brilliance, he is paralyzed in the cold dream of contempt put on in useless exile by the Swan."

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Stefan Tanasijević


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