Worldwide, the community of letters mourns the death of Yves Bonnefoy; but some of us have also lost the man who was our spiritual father. After knowing him well for almost half a century, I am acutely aware that he was the last of my parents—and in many ways, the one who changed my life the most. The anecdotes I might recount would be endless: they would begin with our weekly conversations in Paris in the late sixties, and range through our days in Rome, the encounters in Cambridge and New York, and the unforgettable sojourn in Ireland. But as always, the best tribute we translators can pay to our great friend is an echo of his words: an echo that by its very nature must be faint, humble and distorted. Through a glass, darkly, this might be one of the many potential versions of his final poem in verse, among the most luminous he ever wrote. –HR
BRIEFWEG, IN WARBENDE
What I’ve picked up is a letter—tossed
Yesterday into the grass, beside the path.
It has rained: the pages are stained with mud;
Ink overflows from the words, illegible.
And yet the iridescence of these signs,
Decomposed, now is almost light.
The downpour has drenched a promise;
The ink has become a puddle of sky.
Like this, let us love the words of the cloud:
They too were a letter, and our lure;
But light redeems them by passing through.
Shall I try to decipher these phrases? No:
They are more to me, by coming undone.
I dream that night is the breaking of day.
This translation is published of Oct-Dec issue of The Indian Quarterly. The theme for the issue is “The Body”.
In this issue, vascular surgeon Ambarish Satwik writes on his days as a student of anatomy, Paromita Vohra traces the journey of gym-sculpted hairless bodies in Bollywood, Manjula Padmanabhan draws and describes her childhood pains, dancer Leela Samson writes on challenges faced by an Indian classical dancer, Shougat Dasgupta laments soullessness in sports, Sandip Roy delves into the story of India’s first Mr Universe who died at 104 and Jannatul Mawa reveals a lot in her award winning series where she clicks employers and their maids seated together. Elsewhere, Prashant Panjiar’s quixotic photo essay captures the “we-are-like-this-only” aspect of Indians. Kishore Singh explores the connection, if any, between where an artist lives and his work.
Feature Image credits:Edvard Munch (Norwegian, 1863 – 1944)
Starry Night, 1893, Oil on canvas
135.6 × 140 cm (53 3/8 × 55 1/8 in.)
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles