Stéphane Mallarmé (1842–1898) was the great French Symbolist poet. According to his theories, nothing lies beyond reality, but within this nothingness lies the essence of perfect forms and it is the task of the poet to reveal and crystallize these essences. Mallarmé’s poetry employs condensed figures and unorthodox syntax. Each poem is built around a central symbol, idea, or metaphor and consists of subordinate images that illustrate and help to develop the idea. As well as changing the course of modern French literature, his work influenced James Joyce, T. S. Eliot, and Wallace Stevens.