Baudelaire, Mallarme and Valery, three central poets of the modern French tradition, form a noble poetic lineage: Mallarme proceeded from Baudelaire, Valery from Mallarme; yet each went his separate way and attained a high degree of originality. All three reflected deeply on the principles of poetic creation; all three sought to apply these principles in the practice of writing. The central theme of the eighteen papers collected here is the constant confrontation of theory and practice. The majority are close studies of individual poems, based on rigourous textual analysis, but placing each poem, implicitly or explicitly, in the total context of each poet's work as a whole. The impact of these poets on the development of modern poetry has been felt far beyond the frontiers of France; their writings are at the centre of more recent reflection on literature in genera, and poetry in particular, as the application of certain properties of language. Above all, their poems remain a constant source of delight; to share that delight with the reader is the main object of this book.