"... much of our poetry for the last hundred years has been a rejection of the idea that certain words are more poetic than others." (Charles Simic, "When Night Forgets to Fall," a review of The Curved Planks, by Yves Bonnefoy, trans. Hoyt Rogers, FSG, in NYRB, March 1, 2007).
By "our" poetry, Simic means English and American poetry, as opposed to French poetry (e. g., Bonnefoy).
For one of Rogers's translations of Bonnefoy, see here.
Sunday, April 01, 2007
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The Bonnefoy poem you linked to, "Let this World Endure," was my weekly winner in last year's Daily Poem project. I still have a feeling of the atmosphere, although I did not reread it just now. And I remember how that strange chill crept up my spine and released its energy all over my scalp; that chill that you get whenever you hear or read something so beautiful that you just want to be the thing you hear or read.
That's probably what they call bliss.
There's a particular kind of dreaminess that one can only arrive at through the almost vague, mystical style of someone like Bonnefoy. W. S. Merwin used to get there often among American poets, but in English (at least recently, as Simic suggests), it is rare.
Pretty words don't mean much anymore
I don't mean to be mean much anymore
--Elvis Costello, 1981
It don't mean a thing,
if it ain't got that swing --
Do-wa do-wa, do-wa do-wa, do-wa do-wa.
Let word be to absence
As color is to shadow,
Gold of ripe fruit
To gold of dry leaves:
(That, to my ears/eyes, is the MOST gorgeous verse of this nearly-everywhere-gorgeous poem. Another way to say this is "This is the part that made MY scalp tingle." Let's hear it for pretty words!)
How about a specific reference to W. S. Merwin? ... if that's easy enough for you to provide, that is.
There are several good links in the links section of Merwin's Wikipedia entry.
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