"Loin des oiseaux, des tropeaux, des villageoises..."

"Far from birds and flocks and village girls,
What did I drink as I knelt in the heather,
A tender hazel copse around me,
In the warm green mist of the afternoon?"

(Arthur Rimbaud, tr. Louise Varèse, A Season in Hell, New Directions, 1961)

Varèse's translation of this book is a model of accuracy carrying leisure in lines of verse and prose, cut by stars. The reason to bring this up is an essay by Walter Benjamin that says: "Baudelaire envisoned readers to whom the reading of lyric poetry would present difficulties. The introductory poem of the Fleurs du mal is addressed to these readers." As Rimbaud in particular discourse makes the formal qualities of the poem-journal become the work's focus. A bow and challenge to the reader, book about abandoning words. But the quotations he makes of himself are rare and inspired. Varèse lets the narrative intone its language through a Sebaldian English. Is it recent readings of Sebald that influence this comparison? Versions.

No comments: