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VIII FROM COHERENCE TO JUDGMENT Thus far, this work has made only limited reference to the general principles of structure and the historical pattern of technical development in Malherbe's six completed odes. These questions require, and will now receive, fuller treatment. At the outset it should be noted that an inventory of the structural elements contained in all six poems would - within the present set of assumptions - distinguish between two classes: literal and figurative. The former includes the "successions de faits" from whose less-than-rigorous presentation stems the surface disorde.r noted by Professor Wadsworth. The latter class contains the techniques by means of which Malherbe integrated the fragmentary literal elements into an "ordre superieur et cache." Admittedly, this distinction is artificial, since each set of elements depends very heavily upon the other for its value in the context of any given ode; they are here separated only for the sake of clarity. ".. . les successions de faits ..." On the literal level, the malherbian ode is a versified discourse containing narrative, rhetorical, descriptive, and lyric features, combining from two to seven of the following topics: 1. Praise for the moral, intellectual, esthetic, and even athletic qualities of the subject (including, whenever appropriate, his ancestors and immediate family) and for the past, FROM COHERENCE TO JUDGMENT 109 present, or future acts permitted by these qualities in the domains of politics, war, religion, and society; brief explicit comparisons between the subject and mythological personages or natural phenomena. 2. Condemnation of the defects and actions of the subject's rivals or enemies, unless converted to instruments of royal policy. 3. Sympathetic portrayal of the subject's well-meaning but materially or intelkctually limited allies and dependents. 4. Exhortations or questions urging upon the subject or on his divine patrons certain courses of action in the interest of the realm. 5. Prediction of future actions or conditions. 6. Assertions concerning the power of poetry- particularly Malherbe's- to confer upon the subject the verbal equivalent of his just but unattainable rewards. ''l'ordre superieur et cache" On the figurative level, the poet establishes in every ode one or more of the following implicit comparisons, which enfold all of the literal facts. 1. Allusion. The poet models the action and its moral or intellectual causes on certain unparticularized motifs of a single mythological pattern; this expedient serves to enhance the subject's value by comparing him to the protagonist in an epic or cosmic event. The poet may also invert, conditionally or unconditionally, any motif in the model which relates to the protagonist's disgrace, crime, or tragic flaw; this expedient serves further to enhance the poet's praise of his subject by demonstrating the latter's superiority to his legendary counterpart. llO HIGHER, HIDDEN ORDER 2. Style. The poet establishes systems of images, metonymies, repeated key words and their synonyms, as well as verbal ambiguities (including etymological puns, and equivocations on abstract and concrete senses). These systems liken the agents- their qualities, actions, and rewardsto essences, states, characters, and relations which have thematic import. Proceding in order of increasing complexity and coherence, these comparisons may appear either as correlated multiple strands, as correlated groups of antitheses, or as correlated groups of antitheses governed by a single integrating term. Turning now from the range of structural possibilities to the poet's actual achievement in individual odes, it will be useful to trace the development of his technique between 1600 and 1628. 1. Ala Reine, sur sa bien-venue en France (1600). Malherbe's first completed ode is also his least coherent. Included are five topics- praise, condemnation, sympathetic portrayal , exhortation and prediction. These the poet organized around a single allusive pattern with a conditional inversion . There is no stylistic coherence in this ode, as is immediately apparent from the contradictions that exist in the reference and valuation of related images (e.g., the fire imagery refers both to war and to love, cf. vv. 54 and 164). 2. Sur l'attentat commis en la personne de sa Majeste le 19 de Decembre 1605 (1606). Vastly richer in matter and more coherent than the first, the second ode consists of four topics -praise, condemnation, exhortation and sympathetic portrayal- all involved in six implicit comparisons : two interlocking allusions (one of which contains a conditional inversion) and four stylistic strands which appear as two correlated sets of antitheses. (The gains in richness and coherence are slightly offset by the awkwardness of this ambitious poem.) FROM COHERENCE TO...


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