La Jeune Parque  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

la Jeune Parque (1917) is a poem by Paul Valéry.

Valéry published fewer than a hundred poems, and none that drew much attention before 1917, when he produced la Jeune Parque at forty-six years of age. This obscure but superbly musical masterpiece, of 512 alexandrine lines in rhyming pairs, had taken him four years to complete, and immediately secured his fame. It is esteemed by many in France as the greatest French poem of the 20th century. The title was settled on late in the poem's gestation; it refers to the youngest of the three Parcae (the Roman deities also called Fates), though the connection with that deity is tenuous and problematic. It is written in the first person, and is the soliloquy of a young woman contemplating life and death, engagement and withdrawal, love and separateness, in a setting dominated by sea, sky, stars, rocky cliffs, and the rising sun. There are, therefore, links with Le Cimetière marin, which is also a seaside meditation on such large themes.

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