for those who wander among the thorns

An unexpected gift of words arrived at my doorstep. My daughter came running up the stairs and tossed it onto my work desk.

I hurriedly tore off its wrapper. A title appeared:


I opened the cover. The syllables of poetry in translation danced before my sight; then the pages blurred for me behind a screen of tears.

Below, two poems from the book–

The Word Brambles, You Say

(Le Mot Ronce, dis-tu)

The word brambles, you say? Then I think of
Those boats stranded in sea-weed
That children drag on summer mornings
With cries of joy through dark pools of water.

Because in some, you see, there are traces
Of a fire that burned there at the prow of the world
–And on the blackened wood where time has left
The salt that seems a sign but vanishes,
You too shall love the shimmering water.

Brief is the flame that goes out to sea,
But when it is quenched against the wave,
The smoke is filled with iridescence.
–The word brambles is like this sinking wood.

And poetry, if we can use this word,
Is it not still, there where the star
Seemed to beckon, but only toward death,

Knowing how to love this light? To love
To open the kernel of absence in words?


The Snow

(La Neige)

It has come from further than the roads,
It has touched the meadow, the ochre of the flowers,
With that hand that writes in smoke,
It has vanquished time through silence.

More light this evening
Because of the snow.
You would think the leaves in front of the door were burning,
And there is water in the wood we bring in.

–Yves Bonnefoy, translated by John Naughton from the original French

Yves Bonnefoy

Here is an interview with Yves Bonnefoy in the Paris Review.

Posted by Jillian Parker

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