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This article is taken from PN Review 193, Volume 36 Number 5, May - June 2010.

The Shining Space (translated by Beverley Bie Brahic) Yves Bonnefoy

A late-comer

I wish I could have come as a child to a place like this.

Not because I knew or had even an inkling of the works displayed in the Louvre or in the world’s other museums.

But because a child’s thoughts are haunted by images (as yet) as unfinished as they are intense. It is not words that matter to him, it is the images he perceives beyond. Images: he never encounters any that fail to disturb him, frighten him, or attract him, seduce him. And he will want to go wherever he is told the images are - as if in search of himself.

Climbing the grand staircase as if against these shadows that stream down its steps.

Climbing up how he’d have loved to sit in the lap of a large smiling Isis who would have opened for him a book of signs and figures, full of colours, the countless pages of what is.

And what a lovely intuition the Louvre had: to place the Winged Victory of Samothrace at the top of the stairs, her wings deployed over the world.

Upright at the prow of a ship, conquered, pillaged. But equally the young mother in a thin robe, her body close. Gentleness itself, peace.

The brooch on her shoulder has come undone, wind lifts the cloth. The great secret already almost told.

The pyramid

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