This is one of the first studies to treat Valéry's theory and practice of poetry together and is the first full-length study of his poetry in English. Discussion of his ideas on poetic composition leads to a detailed analysis of the principal poetry: the long term poem La Jeune Parque and all the poems in the main collection. While serving as a step-by-step introduction to Valéry's poetic achievement, the argument is not merely neutral; it elicits and comments on his little-known concept of 'Voice', now seen increasingly to be central. This is not simply the acoustic or musical effect of one poet's verse: it relates to the inner monologue we all hear within ourselves. By concentrating on Valéry's unusually thorough understanding of this area of exchange between willed and spontaneous modes of perception and creativity, the book is able to approach without jargon the much debated question of the subject - 'Who speaks in a poem?' It proposes some unexpected conclusions concerning Valéry's relationship to both Mallarméan Symbolism and contemporary Structuralist thought. This searching study will interest linguists, philosophers and psychologists, as well as students of literature and literary history.