was one of the founders of the French
symbolist movement in poetry
. The Symbolist poets wished to liberate techniques of versification in order to allow greater room for "fluidity," and as such were aligned with the movement towards free verse. Synaesthesia was an important metaphor for symbolism; poets sought to identify and confound the separate senses of scent, sound
, and color
. Symbolist poems sought to evoke, rather than to describe; symbolic imagery in poetry was analogous to the brush technique of the French Impressionist painters. The imagery was used not so much to capture "reality," but to signify the state of the poet's soul
. In this regard, Mallarme was an unusual figure. The "state of his soul" could best be described as pessimistic, even dark. His outlook on life was characterized by hopelessness, with poetry as the only means of brightening an otherwise dreary reality. Like fellow symbolist, Paul Verlaine
, Mallarme used this paradoxical, even dialectical attitude to poetry as an invitation to create art from the spiritual void. His poetry is difficult, challenging, full of word play, but won the respect and interest of many modern artists, particularly musicians.