By William H. Gass
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Paul doesn't evidently get lost, yet what's close to and what a ways during this connection? here's a poet so cautious he turns out continually to be jogging upright on his personal existence as if it have been a swaying cord. To render him, then, as though he have been forgetful and a section careless approximately his funds: how lets degree this departure? “The Rower” is a poet suffering upstream opposed to time and the enticements of a enjoyable glide. His oars half him from the repeated grip of the river: Je romprai lentement mille liens glacés Et les barbes d’argent de sa puissance nue. Mr. Paul, who with the fewer well-known poems has occasionally taken the 1st aspiring to fly by means of, now not troubling himself concerning the experience of the complete, construes this pair as follows: Piece through piece I shall holiday 1000 icy bonds, And the silvery barbs of her bare efficiency, that is, first, careless (you don’t holiday bonds “piece by means of piece”), after which fallacious (barbes refers to a lappet, one of those apron, here), in order that the final result is confusion, and the relevant which means of the road, the sexual publicity of the river via violation of its floor, is misplaced. within the ultimate verses of the poem, too, Mr. Paul translates the poet’s severe concluding act of defiance as … good, it easily isn’t transparent. The rower is passing underneath bridges whose darkness oppresses him. the brain Lowers its delicate suns, its prepared eyelids, until eventually with a jump that outfits me with jewels I plunge into the disdain of all that idle azure. you'll have to have a court docket order to exploit “azure” in English. The early poem, “Helen,” starts “Azur! c’est moi …,” which Mr. Paul renders, “Azure, it truly is I! ” Lowell really thoroughly avoids the note. “I am the blue! ” his poem cries, which isn’t correct both, but—never mind—the poem that follows is an excellent one, if no longer by way of Valéry. Then to transcribe those well-known traces of “The Cemetery by means of the Sea”: Midi le juste y compose de feux los angeles mer, l. a. mer, toujours recommencée! within which Valéry describes the sunshine of the midday solar falling with the type of neutral gentle we get in sure classical paintings—everywhere in a rain of correct angles—so that the quiet sea has no slopes with which it could possibly contrive a shadow, and as a result turns out composed of fireside; a hearth, certainly, like that that is acknowledged to eat the phoenix, dying and start continuing so continually that not anything seems to be to change—to transcribe those traces as Justicer midday in the market compounds with fires the ocean, the ocean ceaselessly renewed! is to exchange a fragile stability of principles with easy awkwardness. and because the poet’s shining wine subsides in its glass, the remaining continues to be sweetly sticky nonetheless, like flat pop. Valéry constantly insisted that his curiosity in poetry lay within the paintings, now not within the poem: within the successive acts of composition which have been, for him, just like the strikes of a dancer passing gracefully from one place to a different. And if poetry stood to prose as dancing did to strolling, as he cherished to claim, then it did so simply because, like dancing, its motions served no grasp however the brain at play which designed them; since it grew to become a continuum: there has been the paintings!