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Index: Dossier: A Bonnefoy Memorial


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

Two visits to Paris.

Anthony Rudolf: ‘Outside the door, I realised that Yves was treating his last days (as he thought, but in fact his last weeks) as something natural for a man of his age in full possession of his faculties. He was contemplating the end without fear, with curiosity. It was an extraordinary privilege to participate in the final scene of the fifth — or should that be seventh — act of a great writer and close friend, whose dying was a lesson in life to someone twenty years his junior. ‘

Three poems from Together Still.

Yves Bonnefoy: Yes, but look: the grass is crushed, where an animal has slept.
Its hideaway is like a sign. The sign is more
Than what was lost, than life going by—
Than the song on the road, late at night.

Sonnets of Music and Memory.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘Naturally, Bonnefoy was well aware of the signal role of music in Shakespeare. His plays contain or allude to well over a hundred songs, many of which were probably performed with instruments as well as voices, as part of the entertainment. ‘

Paths to Speech.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘I have the impression that we never fully hear the tonal subtleties of each other’s languages. Probably I want to imagine stronger accents in French than really exist for you as a native speaker, whereas I note in your English versions that you soft-pedal the metrical beats, as though our language were as mildly accentuated as yours. Most of the time, when you find me slightly altering the semantics in a verse, I am in quest of a prosodic fit—not just ignorant of the faint modulation in meaning.’

Yves Bonnefoy (1923-2016), in memoriam.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘Whether we are Yves Bonnefoy’s family, friends, translators, publishers, and readers, we all join in looking back on his immense achievement with gratitude and awe. Throughout his lengthy and productive life, he selflessly refined the letter of his writings, in order to bequeath to us a lasting spiritual gold.’