‘The Eternal Procession’ – Paul Stubbs reviews Yves Bonnefoy’s ‘The Arrière-pays’

The Arrière-pays
Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by Stephen Romer – Seagull Books, 2012

‘Yves Bonnefoy is first an abstract form, then a poet. Therefore a work such as The Arrièrepays is but a shadow giving notice of his shapes still to locate a sundial. He is what Jean-Paul Sartre said of  Baudelaire, that he had the posture of ‘a leaning man’ (‘d’un homme penché’); one acutely adrift of the comet of his own flesh and who, burning up in the drag of his own sentences, holds within his fist only the shredded remains of each exploded space. When Rimbaud wrote ‘To every being, several other lives seemed to me to be due’ he opened up in knowledge and in poetry the first true terror-pores of gnosis, allowing a poet like Bonnefoy to access his own unpurged mind, to conceive of what Yeats revealed in Vision—‘all things dying each other’s life, living each other’s death’. To witness the mirage of this elsewhere in time and space (this place which Bonnefoy names ‘the arrière-pays’ i.e. an imaginary hinterland born of what he calls the ‘unknown feeling’), this poet has first to return to Eden, to locate the one tree in which the fruit is still flesh, and whose bark, if peeled back, reveals only his own still unused bone.’
Paul Stubbs

To read the review

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The Arrière-pays, Yves Bonnefoy / Stephen Romer

The Arrière-pays
Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by Stephen Romer – Seagull Books, 2012

Since the publication of his first book in 1953, Yves Bonnefoy has become one of the most important French poets of the postwar years. At last, we have the long-awaited English translation of Yves Bonnefoy’s celebrated work, L’Arrière-pays, which takes us to the heart of his creative process and to the very core of his poetic spirit.
Enriched by a new preface by the poet, this volume also includes three recent essays in which he returns to his original account of an ethical and aesthetic haunting, one that recounts the struggle between our instinct to idealize—what he deems our eternal Platonism—and the equally strong need to combat this and to be reconciled with our nature as finite beings, made of flesh and blood, in the world of the here and now.

http://www.seagullindia.com/books/detailviewnew.asp?prodid=3832

http://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/distributed/A/bo13217396.html

about Stephen Romer

http://literature.britishcouncil.org/stephen-romer

http://poezibao.typepad.com/poezibao/2007/05/stefen_romer.html

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