While reading translations of the work of the French poets (Yves Bonnefoy and Paul Valery) I spotted a sort of kinship between two of their poems.
Both writers are masters of their craft to the extent that they are willing — perhaps eager — to release all they have, all that they are, into the void. Is it because of their faith (even as devout Skeptics) in the eternal in-breath of silence and an inevitable exhale which is the mother of form? Is it due to a maturity of thought which allows their egos to step aside? I will allow you to be the judge.
The first poem possesses a certain tautness; the lines stride confidently along the via negativa, but the ending has a cathartic effect on this reader. There are open spaces here, where the wind and thoughts may wander, yet the whole remains cohesive in its imagery.
The books: he tore them all apart.
The devastated page. Yet the light
On the page, the increase of light.
He knew he was becoming the blank page again.
He went out. Torn, the visage of the world
Took on another beauty, seemed more human now.
In shadow play, the sky’s hand reached for his.
The stone where you see his weathered name
Was opening, forming a word.
–Yves Bonnefoy, from the collection, The Curved Planks
(Translated by Hoyt Rogers.)
The painting above seems to partake of a “wine-dark sea” similar to the poem below:
The Lost Wine
One day into the sea I cast
(But where I cannot now divine)
As offering to oblivion,
My small store of precious wine . . .
What, oh rare liquor, willed your loss?
Some oracle half understood?
Some hidden impulse of the heart
That made the poured wine seem like blood?
From this infusion of smoky rose
The sea regained its purity,
Its usual transparency . . .
Lost was the wine, and drunk the waves!
I saw high in the briny air
Forms unfathomed leaping there.
Posted by Jillian Parker