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This article is taken from PN Review 108, Volume 22 Number 4, March - April 1996.

Bonnefoy Anthony Rudolf


Yves Bonnefoy's poetry has been translated into many European and other languages, and several of his books have been translated into the same language more than once. Over a period of nearly forty years the interest in his work has been so widespread and at the same time so deep that the explanation for this rare phenomenon is a self-explanation, namely that he is a great and necessary poet whose writing, transcending immediate language barriers, speaks directly to a thou: each reader, in his or her own solitude, for the time of the poem looks the poet in the eye/I, takes the measure, or measures the take, of a lyrical voice at once intimate and magisterial and then, unwriting himself or herself out of the poem, returns to the world changed by an experience only words can generate but deeper than any word, found beyond telling.

In his eloquent Introduction my co-editor John Naughton deploys his profound knowledge and experience of Bonnefoy's work to guide the reader along the path of the poet's development, focusing on the central concerns of each book in turn. In this foreword I would like to make some informal comments of my own on the work of a poet increasingly ranked with the likes of Paz and Milosz.

In theory and in practice Yves Bonnefoy's six books of poetry are conceived and structured as architectonic wholes. They are artfully orchestrated ensembles that seek to contain and to ...

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