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Cluster index: Hoyt Rogers

Seven poems

Hoyt Rogers: ‘Still, it is only a mask over mild, imperturbable eyes: you enfold our farthest horizon. Kindly, you cock your head to one side, refulgent as the harvest moon. Your touch is in the residue of things, “our lives and our loves”; the chance design, flitting for a second on the screen; the accidents, the plan; the worn-out clothes; the knuckles, the elbows, the spine.’

Three poems from ‘The Wandering Life’.

Yves Bonnefoy: ‘Three angels are standing there, who look at him and smile. One wears a red robe; another’s raiment is blue-gray; the third is swathed in saffron yellow, inconceivably vivid and intense. ‘Who are you?’ he asks them.’

Seeing with Words.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘In Bonnefoy’s estimation, the deserted landscape, in which a few scattered human beings merely throw the solitude into deeper relief, is one of the major inventions of the Seicento, championed by Poussin and his followers such as Dughet.’

The Seicento and the Cult of Images.

Yves Bonnefoy: ‘We look at these rivers, these cities in the light; at these beings, haloed by an astounding dignity. We say to ourselves: that world is, perhaps. And within us, soon the ‘passion’ flames up, which is nothing but a love that has its object in our dreams—and we feel tempted to devote a ‘cult’ to certain images, at least.’

Heard in Tintoretto.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘At San Marcuola the / table is static / as a refectory plank / on a fresco in Milan…

Tintoretto: after and before.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘The past, as our imagination transforms it in the present, already evolves into the future. This was the lesson I learned from Tintoretto in work after work—a lesson that quickened my steps and restored me to reality, that multivalent realm of ‘the seen and the unseen.’’’

Tintoretto and Venice.

Introduction: ‘This portfolio brings together essays by Michele Casagrande and Hoyt Rogers, in Italian and English. To mark the anniversary, the Civic Museums of Venice and the National Gallery in Washington have jointly organised a splendid retrospective in both cities.’

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.’

Translating André du Bouchet.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘…there’s no such thing as a perfect translation. If readers have little or no French, then we owe them—not a word by word translation like those old interlinear texts we used to crib with in Greek class—but the best poem the translator is capable of making while staying true to the basic meaning, and above all the spirit, of the original. To paraphrase the parting shot of [Peter] Riley’s review, when I am reading a translation of poetry from a language I don’t know, I’d rather be overpaid than shortchanged. I want to know what the poem says; but to some degree, I also want to know what it connotes, what it evokes, and how it would sound if the poet had written it in English. In poetry, some things are lost in translation; but as with Bonnefoy’s version of Yeats, quoted earlier, other things are gained. In any case, there is far more to poetry than a simple string of words.’

Writing to Shakespeare.

Bonnefoy: ‘…you’re standing in a corner of the theatre. It’s cold, and a wind seems to be blowing. You’re talking to several men, young and old. One of them will be Hamlet; another, Ophelia. Do you have an idea to explain to them? No. Hamlet is being written here, at this very moment, in the sentences that come to you, that take you by surprise. It’s virtually an improvisation, over several days divided between your table—I don’t know where—and the stage: a text, certainly, but one you cross out off-the-cuff, as when you understand—for example, at this very instant—that your future Hamlet doesn’t grasp all that well what you’re trying to tell him.’

Three essays on ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘The heart of the play—the “heartless” heart—is the final scene of Act IV. Ill-assorted, often omitted, it takes on its full meaning only in retrospect. The House of Capulet is in mourning: the Nurse babbles her sorrow, Juliet’s parents are repentant, and Paris joins them in their laments, flat as his platitudes may sound. The concluding vignette leaves all that behind, looping back to the comic vein of the play’s first half.’

A portfolio from ‘Openwork’.

André du Bouchet: ‘and so the most beautiful poems have led to some blank texts
like a sheet of blank paper—are available: that is,
they have not ceased to act. Like everything that has begun
to act.

‘I always write to make myself worthy of the poem that is not
yet written.’