Since his first collection of poetry appeared in 1953, Philippe Jaccottet has sought to express the ineffable that lies at the heart of our material world in his essential, elemental poetry. As one of Switzerlands’s most prominent and prolific men of letters, Jaccottet has published more than a dozen books of poetry and criticism, but none are widely available in English.
Seedtime—Jaccottet’s notebooks—is an especially good introduction to this leading francophone Swiss author, containing the poet’s observations of the natural world and his reflections on literature, art, music, and the human condition. In these explorations, he returns again and again to the fundamental, focusing his prodigious talents on describing the exact shade of light on a meadow, the sound of running water, the color of cherry and almond blossoms, or the cry of a bird in the stillness before dawn. In this translation by Tess Lewis, English readers will finally be able to join this poet as we follow in his footsteps of fifty years ago and find the still-viable seeds of his delicate and tenacious verse.
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Philippe Jaccottet is a major Swiss poet, critic, and the translator of works by Homer, Goethe, Hölderlin, Rilke, and Musil. Tess Lewis’s numerous translations from French and German include works by Peter Handke, Jean-Luc Benoziglio and Pascale Brückner.Review:
“At the center of Philippe Jaccottet’s scrupulously honest writing lies the paradox of those imbricated, inextricable emotions that, on the one hand, can orient toward a sense of shame at what the world can generate, yet on the other can urge us to sing the stunning beauty of some quiet fragment of existence.” (World Literature Today)
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