Monday, July 14, 2014

France, or, Where to begin

.. poetry doesn't spring forth
in a single bound from the depths
of one's mind and spirit, but 
must free itself from various
obstacles that are a function
of the particular nature of lan-
guage or cultural tradition. For
someone like me, who wanted very
much to devote himself to poetry,
it was obviously important to un-
derstand this.

Of all the shabby obstacles to
which we are pressed to bow to-
day as Americans, the crushing
doctrine of originalism in Con-
stitutional interpretation con-
stitutes the stunningest proof
of the need for France as it
inched forth on this date, 1789.
Only a beginning, but the neces-
sary one en route to a humane
majesty. It is simply false to
sequester that destiny from the
hydraulic processes of language.

This is the distinction the trans-
lator Richard Howard observed in
the poetry of Yves Bonnefoy, be-
tween natural objects and natural
energies; and shall a document,
shall a life, be a moribund pile
of stone or a guest in the house?

                  The cloth of the rain clung to you.
                  You were the breast
                  A painter might have dreamed.

Yves Bonnefoy

i   Shakespeare and the French Poet
    Interview with
    John Naughton, editor
    University of Chicago Press, 2004©

ii  Summer Rain
    Hoyt Rogers, translation
    Cited in Charles Simic
    The Renegade
    George Braziller, 2009© 

Ivan Terestchenko

Maxime Bergougnoux
  photographer unknown

No comments:

Post a Comment