"Who was it, I wonder, who had the happy idea of giving me, elegantly bound, the first volumes of Victor Hugo's poems? I have forgotten who it was, but I remember what joy the vibrations of his lyre gave me. Until that time poetry had seemed to me something cold, respectable and far-away (...)
People have told me ad nauseam (and they still tell me so) that beautiful verse is inimical to music, or rather that music is inimical to good verse; that music demands ordinary verse, rhymed prose, rather than verse, which is malleable and reducible as the composer wishes. This generalization is assurely true, if the music is written first and then adapted to the words, but that is not the ideal harmony between two arts which are made to supplement each other. Do not the rhythmic and sonorous passages of verse naturally call for song to set them off, since singing is but a better method of declaiming them?".
SAINT-SAENS, Camille. Musical Memories. Translated by Edwin Gile Rich. Boston: Small, Maynard and company, 1919.