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Devotions.

—from L’Improbable, 1959.

By YVES BONNEFOY.
Translation by Anthony Rudolf.

I

To nettles and stones.

To “severe mathematics”. To dimly-lit trains every evening. To snowy streets beneath an immeasurable star.

I wandered about, I ended up lost. And words had trouble finding their way in the terrible silence. – To these words, patient and redemptive.

II

To the “Madonna of the evening”. To the great stone table above the bountiful shorelines. To footsteps that came together and then separated.

To winter oltr’Arno. To the snow and so many footsteps. To Brancacci Chapel when night has fallen.

III

To island chapels.

To Galla Placidia. Narrow walls measuring out our shadows. To statues in the grass; and, like me perhaps, faceless.

To a door walled up with bricks the colour of blood on your gray façade, Valladolid Cathedral. To great stone circles. To a paso filled with dead black earth.

To Sainte-Marthe d’Agliè, in Canavese. Its red brick, grown old, expressing baroque joy. To a palace deserted and sealed up among the trees.
(To all palaces of this world, for the welcome they offer night.)

To my house in Urbino between number and night.

To Saint-Yves de la Sagesse.

To Delphi where one can die.

To the city of kites and great glass houses which reflect the sky.

To the painters of the Rimini school. Anxiously desiring your glory, I wanted to be a historian. Profoundly wishing that your absolute prevail, I would like to erase history.

IV

And always to quays at night, to bars, to a voice saying I am the lamp, I am the oil.

To that voice consumed by an essential fever. To a maple’s gray trunk. To a dance. To these two ordinary rooms, for ensuring the gods remain in our midst.


YVES BONNEFOY:
A Memorial Tribute.

ESSAYS & TRANSLATIONS By Hoyt Rogers: Introductory Note | Sonnets of Music and Memory | Paths to Speech | Three Poems from Together Still.
By Anthony Rudolf:
Devotions | Two Visits to Paris.

Yves Bonnefoy, 1923-2016. ‘Devotions’ will appear in Yves Bonnefoy: Poems from Carcanet later this year. The extensive collection is edited by Anthony Rudolf (with John Naughton and Stephen Romer), and comprises poetry and poetic prose. A second volume, Critical Essays, will appear later. An index of work by and about Yves Bonnefoy published in The Fortnightly Review is here.
 *
Anthony Rudolf, whose European Hours: Collected Poems was recently published by Carcanet, was associated with Bonnefoy for more than fifty years (see ‘Dialogical: Fifty Years‘ in The Fortnightly Review).

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