Paul Valéry (1871 – 1942) was born in Sète on the Mediterranean. As a young man he wrote poems, painted, and was drawn to music and architecture. He studied law, mathematics, and physics at the University of Montpellier before moving to Paris, where his work was noticed by the Symbolist poets of the 1890s. However, searching for a greater understanding of the intellectual and emotional functions of the mind, he withdrew from writing poems for twenty years.
When he returned to poetry, he published Le Cimètiere Marin, in 1922,that annus mirabilis for modern literature (Joyce’s Ulysses, Eliot’s The Waste Land, Frost’s New Hampshire, and W.C. Williams’ Spring and All) and art (Picasso’s turn from Cubism to Neo-Classicism).