Saint-John Perse

31 May 1887 // 20 Sep 1975
Poet, Diplomat

Poetry Allies Itself with Beauty

Poetry allies itself with beauty - a supreme union - but never uses it as its ultimate goal or sole nourishment. Refusing to divorce art from life, love from perception, it is action, it is passion, it is power, and always the innovation which extend borders. Love is its hearth-fire, insurrection its law; its place is everywhere, in anticipation. It wants neither to deny nor to keep aloof, it expects no benefits from the advantages of its time. Attached to its own destiny and free from any ideology, it recognizes itself the equal of life, which is its own justification. And with one embrace, like a single great, living strophe, it clasps both past and future in the present, the human with the superhuman planetary space with universal space. The obscurity for which it is reproached pertains not to its own nature, which is to illuminate, but to the night which it explores, the night of the soul and the mystery in which human existence is shrouded. Obscurity is banished from its expression and this expression is no less exacting than that of science.

Saint-John Perse, in 'Speech at the Nobel Banquet, 1960'


On Anger: "For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind."
On Destiny: "Our destiny exercises its influence over us even when, as yet, we have not learned its nature: it is our future that lays down the law of our today."
Human, All Too Human
On Friendship: "A crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love."