France’s greatest poet of the last half century, Yves Bonnefoy wrote many books of poetry and poetic prose, as well as celebrated critical essays on literature and art (to which a second volume will be devoted). At his death in 2016 aged ninety-three, he was Emeritus Professor of Comparative Poetics at the College de France. The selection for this volume (and the second one) was made in close collaboration with the poet. The lengthy introduction by John Naughton is a significant assessment of Bonnefoy’s importance in French literature.
Bonnefoy started out as a young surrealist poet at the end of the Second World War and, for seven decades, he produced poetry and prose of great, and changing, depth and richness. In his lines we encounter `the horizon of a voice where stars are falling, / Moon merging with the chaos of the dead’. Fellow poet Philippe Jaccottet spoke of his abiding gravite enflammee.
Bonnefoy knew what translation demands, having himself translated Shakespeare, Donne, Yeats, and Keats; Petrarch and Leopardi from Italian; and, from Greek, George Seferis. This volume is edited and translated by three of Bonnefoy’s long-time translators -Anthony Rudolf, John Naughton, and Stephen Romer – with contributions from Galway Kinnell, Richard Pevear, Beverley Bie Brahic, Emily Grosholz, Susanna Lang, and Hoyt Rogers.