THE EDGE OF THE WOODS.

Yves Bonnefoy is one of my favorite French poets, and (as I said here) I would never dare try to translate his gorgeously opaque off-classical poems myself. But at wood s lot I found a link to this fine version:
The Edge of the Woods
I
Thorn: you tell me that you love the word,
And there I might have much to say,
Sensing a fervor come alive in you
Without your knowing, that was all my life.
But I have no response: for words
Have something cruel about them, they refuse
Themselves to those who love and honor them
For what they might be, not for what they are.
And nothing stays with me but images,
Almost enigmas, which would turn
Your gaze away and leave it suddenly sad,
Your gaze, that takes in only what is clear.
You see, it’s like a morning in the rain,
One goes to lift the water’s hem
In order to risk plunging deeper than color
Into the unknown of pools and shadows.
II
And yet it’s certainly daybreak, in this country
That staggered me, that you love now.
The house of those few days is still asleep,
And you and I have slipped outside of time.
The water hidden in the grass is dark,
And yet the dew reanimates the sky.
Last night’s storm is calm, the cloud
Has put its fiery hand in the hand of ash.


But who translated it? Mark didn’t say, and the linked page didn’t say, and even the most dogged googling failed to turn up the translator’s name. I finally went to the Hudson Review site; I didn’t find any obvious way to search the site, but I did find the note “Every issue of The Hudson Review is available in its entirety on JStor,” and having access to JSTOR through my Massachusetts library card, I went there and found the appropriate page, and under the reproduction of the magazine page was the line “The Edge of the Woods, by Yves Bonnefoy and Emily Grosholz The Hudson Review © 2001 The Hudson Review, Inc.” (This also allowed me to reproduce the stanza breaks and italics lost in the linked version.)
So I can finally credit Emily Grosholz for her work, but if I were her, I’d be annoyed that it took that much effort to find her name. Shame on findarticles.com and other such content borrowers for not providing credit where due. (And why is it © The Hudson Review, Inc. rather than the translator?)

Comments

  1. marie-lucie says:

    Where do I find the original?
    The sounds of English thorn and French épine are so different that one would have a different kinesthetic (I think that is the right word) response to them.

  2. Thank you for posting this lovely poem. I was immediately drawn in by the first word, given that I have roses on the brain: here in Catalonia it is the day of Sant Jordi, where lovers present one other with a rose and a book. Worldwide, it’s also the International Day of the Book.

  3. marie-lucie says:

    a different kinesthetic (I think that is the right word) responsesynesthetic?

  4. Prof. Grosholz is an editor for The Hudson Review, which may explain the copyright. She is a mathematical philosopher as well as a poet.
    It’s ronce, not épine. Here is a bilingual edition with the French and (a different) English translation on facing pages.

  5. marie-lucie says:

    MMcM, thank you for the link.
    La ronce is technically (botanically) the blackberry plant, and in ordinary language it is most often used in the plural and refers to the thorny canes, so the word brambles in the other translation is a more accurate term than just thorn, which however fits the shortness and the sounds of the French word better. My impression is that the translation here is more poetic, the other one more accurate in both choice and order of words, but less satisfying as a poem.

  6. My, blackberries again. (And incidentally, why did the little phone thingie get named after a hideous bramble? And is it called a ronce in France?)
    Another blackberry poem:
    MARINE
    Les chars d’argent et de cuivre –
    Les proues d’acier et d’argent –
    Battent l’écume,–
    Soulèvent les souches des ronces.
    Les courants de la lande,
    Et les ornières immenses du reflux,
    Filent circulairement vers l’est,
    Vers les piliers de la forêt,
    Vers les fûts de la jetée,
    Dont l’angle est heurté par des tourbillons de lumière.

  7. My, blackberries again. (And incidentally, why did the little phone thingie get named after a hideous bramble? And is it called a ronce in France?)
    Another blackberry poem:
    MARINE
    Les chars d’argent et de cuivre –
    Les proues d’acier et d’argent –
    Battent l’écume,–
    Soulèvent les souches des ronces.
    Les courants de la lande,
    Et les ornières immenses du reflux,
    Filent circulairement vers l’est,
    Vers les piliers de la forêt,
    Vers les fûts de la jetée,
    Dont l’angle est heurté par des tourbillons de lumière.

  8. why did the little phone thingie get named after a hideous bramble?
    Lexicon Branding.
    is it called a ronce in France?
    BlackBerry.

  9. marie-lucie says:

    JE: why did the little phone thingie get named after a hideous bramble?
    Possibly because the many little keys bunched together reminded someone of the little round segments (?) of a blackberry (the fruit)? And after the success of Apple, electronic companies tend to favour fruit icons? (See also the Pomegranate phone from Nova Scotia).
    is it called a ronce in France?
    No, it is still BlackBerry. In modern French culture people love to show off their knowledge of English.
    Even if they did not, la ronce would be the wrong translation, as it means only the bramble or thorny cane. The word for the berry itself is la mûre (same word as the similar-looking mulberry, but the mulberry tree is le mûrier).

  10. Once again exposing my old-fartiness, I want to point out that I don’t like this gimmick where companies shove words together and capitalize the second one, as in blachBerry and iPod. I don’t mind change to the language, but I don’t like pointless messing about by advertising executives.

  11. AJP, those are called StudlyCaps: “A hackish form of silliness similar to BiCapitalization for trademarks, but applied randomly and to arbitrary text rather than to trademarks. ThE oRigiN and SigNificaNce of thIs pRacTicE iS oBscuRe.” –The Jargon File
    From the related BiCapitalization entry: “Too many marketroid types think this sort of thing is really cute, even the 2,317th time they do it.”

  12. So what do you think of “pH” and “PhD”, Krong? Abominations to be anathematized? Or “pHags-pa”?

  13. So what do you think of “pH” and “PhD”, Krong? Abominations to be anathematized? Or “pHags-pa”?

  14. PhD and pH have logic behind them and weren’t invented by parasites.

  15. My impression is that the translation here is more poetic, the other one more accurate in both choice and order of words, but less satisfying as a poem.
    Mine as well, and my deepest bow to MMcM for finding the link. You are, as always, the Master of the Recondite Search.
    pHags-pa
    GeSundHeit.

  16. Apparently the name has been renormed to ‘Phags-pa. A travesty, I tell you!

  17. Apparently the name has been renormed to ‘Phags-pa. A travesty, I tell you!

  18. marie-lucie says:

    my deepest bow to MMcM for finding the link. You are, as always, the Master of the Recondite Search
    I second that, MMcM, thank you.

  19. m-l: The word for the berry itself is la mûre (same word as the similar-looking mulberry, but the mulberry tree is le mûrier).
    The family or genus is Morus. It’s a lovely tree, with berries like blackberries only better.

  20. But does it provide habitat for opossums and rabbits? I think not.

  21. But does it provide habitat for opossums and rabbits? I think not.

  22. marie-lucie says:

    JE, It does not. The berries are good but very messy when ripe, as they are much more juicy than blackberries.

  23. Mûres crânebrises are superior in handling to mûres mûres. Awhile back I pointed out that they are etymologically easy to strip off the bush. Duden says:

    Preiselbeere, die; -, -n
    [spätmhd. praisselper, 1. Bestandteil alttschechisch bruslina (vgl. tschech. brusinka),
    zu aruss.-kirchenslaw. (o)brusiti = (ab)streifen,
    weil die Beere sich leicht abstreifen lässt]

  24. Beautiful and Inspiring poetry.

  25. Duden? I’d never thought of it as poetry before.

  26. Brus, in Norwegian, means soda(s); fizzy or Coke-type drink(s). I don’t know where the word comes from, it doesn’t sound that Norwegian to me.

  27. Brus, though having nothing to do with Church Slavonic or cranberries, could be related to the German Brause, fizz(y drink). Duden says it may be onomatopoetic, or related to brauen, to brew, [mhd. briuwen, bruwen, ahd. briuwan, bruwan, originally = intr. boil, foam up (as when milk is brought to a boil)]

  28. On the subject of brausen, Grimm has this: nach einem regen brauset alles, wächst alles fett und geil, gleichsam gährt von neuem. “Fett und geil”, in today’s times at least, could describe an obese nymphomaniac as well as sap-sated, exuberant foliage.

  29. Thanks, Grumbly. That must be it. Geil!

  30. Inspired by Bonnefoy, I was launched into a creative spurt and produced a poem largely about roses. But then, curious about the original, I set out to find the French version (although I should have come back here first as I see that it’s been posted!) and was a bit dismayed to find that ronce/bramble leads me in quite a different direction than rose territory. One could say I’ve become enmeshed in the brambles of language!
    Also, I agree with others’ impressions that the Grosholz translation is freer but more satisfying.

  31. MMcM and Marie-Lucie, we’d be grateful if you’d look at Siganus Sutor’s research on aubergines, here.

  32. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: No sooner read than done. I did not just look at it but added some comments to complement Siganus’s excellent research.

  33. Thanks, M-L. Thanks, Language.

  34. marie-lucie says:

    AJP, you are welcome. It is a pleasure to visit your blog.

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