Which came first? Nature, music and poetry in Mallarmé's 'Bucolique'

Peter Dayan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is normally, if tacitly, assumed that nature came before poetry, and music somewhere in between the two. Mallarmé’s ‘Bucolique’, in the folds of its syntax, demonstrates why this belief is unsustainable. None of those concepts really functions unless, at a more or less hidden level, each can behave as if it were both anterior to and born of the others. Mallarmé does not assert this as a rational truth; rather, he shows this behaviour at work. Poetry, in this view, is both the consequence and the precondition of nature — and vice versa. Hence, perhaps, ecopoetry is the only poetry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)199-209
Number of pages20
JournalDix-Neuf: New Directions in Nineteenth-Century French Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2015


  • ecopoetry
  • intermediality
  • ‘Bucolique’
  • Mallarmé


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