Yves Bonnefoy was one of the greatest living voices of French poetry. In Ursa Major, his sixth book published by Seagull Books, he explores in profound new ways the mysteries of human consciousness. Readers find snatches of conversations—overheard, dropped without any possible conclusion—each pregnant with half-hidden, half-visible meaning. Translucent, punctuated with silences, the poems of Ursa Major are like stones picked up, turned over and set back down on the edge of life.
Countless voices traverse us; endless, almost, as the meanders of dreams or the starry scintillations of summer nights. Only listen, and a few words rise from the murmur, referring to precise things, making allusions one would like to understand, offering opinions perhaps worth mulling over.
With these words Bonnefoy introduces the collection, newly rendered into English by the master translator Beverly Bie Brahic, illuminated by graphic artist Sunandini Banerjee. This deeply moving sequence of prose poems invites readers to attend to the multitudinous voices that carry on their conversations within us, to trust them—‘just as on summer nights we would lie down in the grass of the meadow, behind our houses, to go forth among the millions of stars with a feeling of falling’.
’A brief selection, in Brahic’s translation, of Bonnefoy’s poetry from the final years of his life. The poems take the form of dialogues between a man and a woman—perhaps Adam and Eve in exile from the garden. As always, they revel in the beauty of the physical world.’ —New Yorker
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