Soft, smooth surface like milk made flesh… Airy sway of millions and trillions of strings as if the wind were sweetly kissing the meadow…two dreamlike galaxies which emphasize a soaring brilliance into a charming Eden of delight…and a precious melodic voice so innocent, so mysterious and natural in sound that graces God’s name for such creation in the perfect time sung.
Symbolism is a very visual writing technique, it makes you appreciate that in a more vivid matter; that which is not named but felt by the letters that fly around and describe it. Stepháne Mallarmé (mahl-ahr-may’) presents a more elaborated approach of this, in one of his interviews: “The Evolution of Literature;” by Jules Huret (a French journalist) in 1891:
“As far as content is concerned,” Mallarmé answered, “I feel that the young poets are nearer than the Parnassians to the poetic ideal. The latter still treat their subjects as the hold philosophers and orators did: that is, they present things directly, whereas I think that they should be presented allusively. Poetry lies in the contemplation of things, in the image emanating from the reveries which things arouse in us. The Parnassians take something in its entirety and simple exhibit it; in so doing, they fall short of mystery; they fail to give our minds that exquisite joy which consists of believing that we are creating something. To name an object is largely to destroy poetic enjoyment, which comes from gradual divination. The ideal is to suggest the object. It is the perfect use of this mystery which constitutes symbol. An object must be gradually evoked in order to show a taste of soul.”
Parnassianism was literary style and movement blooming from the light of Romanticism in the late 19th century (1870’s) that kept the credo “Art for Art’s Sake” in such elegance, crafmanship, and objectivity, and elated a positive attitude to life. They attempted to create an “eternal art” which transcended the predisposition of the artist and the cultural times in which it was created. “The World of Beauty” as Leconte de Lisle claimed “The only objective of Art comprises in itself an infinite which can have no possible contact with any type of inferior conception.” The name “Parnassus” originates from ancient Greece, where Mount Parnassus is a mountain sacred to Apollo (God of light, truth and prophecy, healing, music, poetry,etc) and also the home of the “Muses” (the goddesses of the inspiration of literature, science and the arts.)
So, as John Keats wrote in “Ode to a Grecian Urn:”
“O Attic shape! Fair attitude! With brede
of marble men and maidens overwrought,
with forest branches and the trodden weed,
Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
When old age shall this generation waste,
thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou says’t,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” –that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”