Yves Bonnefoy est mort.

I report with sadness that the great French poet Yves Bonnefoy died July 1; the only English-language source to cover the event appears to be BBC News, though I trust the NY Times, Guardian, and other big guns are preparing substantial obits. (In French, Libé gives its piece the nice title “Yves Bonnefoy disparaît en son arrière-pays.”) I have posted about him in connection with brambles here and here; as I said to Siganus Sutor, who commiserated on his dying on my birthday, they should have given him the damn Nobel before it was too late.

Update. William Grimes has done an excellent obituary for The NY Times. Also, it occurred to me that I should honor Bonnefoy by posting one of his poems (from Hier régnant désert, 1958):

Le sable est au début comme il sera
L’horrible fin sous la poussée de ce vent froid.
Où est le bout, dis-tu, de tant d’étoiles,
Pourquoi avançons-nous dans ce lieu froid ?

Et pourquoi disons-nous d’aussi vaines paroles,
Allant et comme si la nuit n’existait pas ?
Mieux vaut marcher plus près de la ligne d’écume
Et nous aventurer au seuil d’un autre froid.

Nous venions de toujours. De hâtives lumières
Portaient au loin pour nous la majesté du froid
— Peu à peu grandissait la côte longtemps vue
Et dite par des mots que nous ne savions pas.


  1. Sir JCass says

    What a terrible year 2016 has turned out to be. Geoffrey Hill died last week too.

    I haven’t got round to reading much Bonnefoy but I heard him on BBC Radio 3 once (speaking in English, I think) and he came over as very calm, measured and wise. RIP.

  2. Yes, I was lucky enough to study French poetry with him and he was very much like that.

  3. He died on my birthday too!

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