Features February 1988
On Yves Bonnefoy’s poetry.
This essay will be included as the preface to a volume of Bonnefoy’s essays, to be published by the University of Chicago Press at the end of this year.
The poetry and prose of Yves Bonnefoy (b. 1923) have always possessed for me, ever since I first became acquainted with them and their author more than thirty years ago, a very rare quality—a quality that can only be characterized in words that run the risk, especially in English, of sounding ponderous and grandiloquent. But there is no help for it, and there are some subjects (this is, I believe, one of them) for which a certain elevation of tone is amply justified and even obligatory.
What first struck me about the man, aside from a complete absence of any pose or pretension, was a quiet and tranquil spiritual integrity, a determination—never asserted, but simply felt directly as part of the personality—to...
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