Selected Poems (Fyfield Books)
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This generous, varied selection of poems by one of France's best-loved and most reviled poets is presented with facing originals, detailed notes, and a lively introduction to the author's life and work.
Steven Monte presents more than eighty poems in translation and in the original French, taken from the earliest poetic publications of the 1820's, through collections published during exile, to works published in the years following Hugo's death in 1883. The introduction provides helpful background information about Hugo's life and work, the selection, and what is involved in translating a poet whose effortless rhymes are central to the poetry's power. Detailed notes at the back of the volume offer information about the poems and their publishing and historical contexts. This is an ideal introduction to a poet whose work, for all its renown, remains for Anglophone readers undiscovered
graveyard where echoes answer us – Not even the autumn willow, green and flowering, Not even the song, naive and monotonous, A beggar in the corner of a bridge will sometimes sing! Where are they, the sailors sunken in the black night? O waves, what melancholy histories you hide! Waves kneeling mothers dread, deep and dangerous: You exchange these stories while scaling the tide, And that is what makes those voices desperate – Those voices you release at dusk when you come toward us!
entirely planned, his ear seldom fails him. Translating Hugo Translating a substantial selection of Hugo’s poetry is a challenge different from that of translating many other poets’ work, even poetry from the same period. In some respects, the task of Hugo’s translator is easier than that of, say, Rimbaud’s or Mallarmé’s: Hugo’s expansive style and aesthetic allow the translator more room, if not licence, to operate; the sense of his poems is largely straightforward; he is one of France’s
Everything was resting in jerimadeth and Ur; The stars glazed the deep sky as far as you could see. A bright, thin crescent shone among these shadowy Flowers of evening, and Ruth wondered to herself, Motionless, half opening her eyes and looking far Into the night, what reaper of eternity – what kind Of god – had, leaving us, carelessly tossed behind This golden sickle in the dark field of the stars. Première Rencontre du Christ avec le tombeau En ce temps-là, Jésus était dans la Judée;
night, with which he was in league. Darkness itself was the statue of his horse. Always dressed in black, this All-Powerful force Appeared as if he mourned the fact of his existence. He was like the Sphinx, taking all things in in silence. Changeless. Being everything, what had he to say? No one had seen this king smile; for a ray Of hope on iron lips was no more possible Than dawn breaking over the black gates of hell. He shakes off his snake-like torpor with a jerk Only to assist the
the posthumously published collections, for example, and I trust that no one will grieve over the absence of such late and not-so-great poems as The Pope and The Highest Pity. In contrast, I feel that I have unfortunately excluded some wonderful poems from Hugo’s best finished collections, Les Contemplations and The Legend of the Centuries, even as poems from these two books comprise the bulk of my selection. Prominent in my decisions to omit were concerns about overall space and my desire to