Alphabet : Inédit by Paul Valéry

By Paul Valéry

"En présence de l. a. lumière, et toutefois hors d'elle, de l. a. fenêtre haute, l'Ange du monde entier, qui d'une voix d'azur et d'or, sur le seuil de ce jour et de l'espace libre, annonce les cieux, les campagnes, les mers, les étendues, les peuples et les déserts, proclame et représente le reste et le Tout, affirme toutes ces choses qui sont en ce second même et qui sont comme si elles n'étaient element ; en présence de mes mains, de mes puissances, de mes faiblesses, de mes modèles, et hors d'eux ; precise de mes jugements, également éloigné de tous les mots et de toutes les formes, séparé de mon nom, dépouillé de mon histoire, je ne suis que pouvoir et silence, je ne fais aspect partie de ce qui est éclairé par le soleil, et mes ténèbres abstention est plénitude. "

Alors qu'il venait d'acquérir vingt-quatre lettrines gravées, un éditeur demanda à Valéry d'y associer vingt-quatre poèmes en prose dont chacun commencerait par une lettre différente. L'écrivain se proposa aussitôt d'y évoquer les vingt-quatre heures du jour, composa le recueil sans tout à fait l'achever, mais ne le publia pas. A certaines lettres de l'alphabet correspondent donc plusieurs poèmes, et c'est l'ensemble de ces textes qui se trouve ici rassemblé pour l. a. première fois.

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But three convincing factors, it is reasonable to suppose, entered into it-his sense that in the circumstances service in the church was ineligible, the realization that his talents warranted his devoting of himself to poetry, and a religious experience whose ultimate result was to transfer to the chosen medium all the sense of 'calling' that had attached to the ministry, and more. Nor are we without strong indication ofthe probable date. His quitting Cambridge, in the summer of I632, would precipitate a decision.

The essence of vocation is extra-personal service; a man is called to obedience in his secular vocation, not for personal gains (either temporal or spiritual), but so that he may serve as the vehicle of God's continuing care for mankind. Secular vocations may vary greatly in importance and glory, but each is nevertheless a medium for transmitting God's love to man. By conscientiously discharging the duties of the office to which he has been appointed, an individual demonstrates his obedience to God and at the same time becomes a useful member of the Christian community.

What is the oath to which Milton refers? What does the phrase 'till coming to some maturity of yeers' mean? I shall return to these questions later; for the moment, it is enough to notice that Milton states categorically that he was forced to abandon a church career as a result of ecclesiastical tyranny and an unspecified oath. Second, the evidence of this passage lays claim to special consideration because it is unique. Nowhere else, in verse or in prose, did Milton think it necessary either to retractor qualify the vocational statement in The Reason of Church-Government.

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