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to Paul Valéry
Paris. May 5, 1891
Yes, my dear poet, to conceive of literature, and for it to have some reason for being, we have to reach this "high symphony" that perhaps no one will manage; but it has haunted even the most unthinking, and its principal aspects mark every written work, whether vulgar or subtle. Music in its strict sense (which we have to pillage, plagiarize, even if it is our own) stifles, is insufficient, merely suggests this sort of poem. —Your "Narcissus Speaks" charms me as I am about to tell [Pierre] Loüys; preserve that rare tone.
to Francis Viélé-Griffin
Valvins, par Avon (Seine-et-Marne). Friday [August 7, 1891]
My Dear Griffin
Thank you for your important and seriously appropriate thoughts about my work. Nothing in them do I not say to myself, less well, in the few words whispered in my solitude; but where you are the diviner, it is, yes, relative to this word itself: It is the title of an interminable study and series of notes I have right at hand, reigning over the very depths of my mind. This is the whole mystery: how to establish the secret identities existing in a "two by two" that eats away at things, and wears them down in the name of a central purity. All that to say that your thoughts penetrate mine from far off; and that we must be living a little with the same outlook. I remain very touched, Griffin, by your wordsand also remain your attentive comrade
to Claude Debussy
Paris. Sunday, December 23, 1894
My Dear Friend,
I have just come from the concert, deeply moved: what a marvel! your illustration of the Afternoon of a Faun—not in the slightest disaccord with my text, except that it goes further, truly, in nostalgia and light, so delicate, disquieting, and rich. I grasp your hands with great admiration, Debussy.
to Paul Claudel
Paris. March, 1895
My dear Claudel
Not one page, without the surprise of words never before uttered by the human mouth, in splendid savage bareness: these marvels cluster together, then roll out in a prodigious chorus in the play. I admire the way they spurt forth with such strength! the place of Theater insufficient for the tragedy of Life, that only music and writing express it in all its mystery; you are of those who will have superbly transposed it into your Book, especially in La Ville. Thank you, very dear Claudel.
to Ambroise Vollard
Valvins, par Avon (Seine-et-Marne). September 15 
Dear Mr. Vollard
A friendly greeting to you. You know that Didot is dragging on and on. I have had the proofs three times, but with months between them, the middle ones pretty satisfactory; the last ones scattered inconsiderately and without any indication on my part. All these little irritations; yet also this more serious concern that I still haven't received anything clear enough to communicate it to Redon. I have written, urged, and now hope to have something correct this time: you can, on your side, take care of the fabrication of the paper, twenty-four pages, that is, six sheets in the format agreed upon.
Let's finish the Coup de Dés before Hérodiade; yes, I would be delighted if Vuillard illustrated the former poem, do speak to him about it and who knows, he might be tempted; for he can do anything. We will talk about the opportunity to publish, as I usually do, in proofs, in a journal—or then not—the additions as I make them; never, of course, the complete work which should appear as such, first, certainly, printed by you. Furthermore, I am not yet at that stage: these new parts, as I envisage them, being rather long, with the two of them, prelude and finale, more than doubling the fragment that already exists. My friend Mardrus is totally a man of his word and it is charming of him to have been the first to subscribe.
Your hand, my dear
Editor, with much affection
to James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Valvins par Avon (Seine-et-Marne). Sunday, May 29, 1898
On the way to get my Ladies to bring them back here next Wednesday, I shall be passing through Paris, and would be delighted to come shake your hand on the rue du Bac, between six and seven in the evening, after your work. If you do not have that moment free, would you let me know at the rue de Rome?
If not, you will see someone from the forests, something between a wild boar and a nightingale, who is
[Valvins. September 8, 1898]
Recommendation about my papers
(For when my dear ones will read it.)
The terrible choking spasm I just suffered might return during the night and finish me. So don't be astonished that I am thinking about the heap of my notes, fifty years' worth, which will only become a great burden for you; since not one sheet will be of any use. I am the only one who could draw from it what there is ... I would have done it if the last years had not betrayed me by their lack. So burn everything; there is no literary heritage there, my poor children. Don't even give it to someone to evaluate—refuse any inquisitive or friendly offer to help. Say just that no one could make anything out; besides, that is true, and you, my poor ones prostrate with grief, are the only beings in the world capable in this way of respecting the entire life of a sincere artist; believe me, it would have been very beautiful.
So, I am leaving nothing unpublished except a few printed trifles that you will come across, the Coup de Dés and Hérodiade finished, if fate so pleases.
My poems are for Fasquelle, here, and Deman, if he will limit himself to Belgium:
Poésies and Vers de circonstances with L'Après-midi
d'un faune and Les Noces d'Hérodiade.
MARY ANN CAWS