'In an article Verlaine wrote at the same time as the publication of Poèmes Saturniens he attacked the Romantic idea of inspiration and of “life” and “human nature” and came out in favour of a poetry completely mastered, controlled and formal. Nor did he in his best work present “themes” that preceded and were external to the actual poems; as we read we feel that we are watching those poems materialize under his pen, just as Chopin’s Nocturnes come to life under his improvising fingers. Nevertheless, since this first book brought together some very early poems written in his collège days as well as his most up-to-date experiments, it is something of a grab-bag, and anything but consistent or programmatic.'
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