Beginning and End of the Snow / Début et Fin de la Neige

Yves Bonnefoy

Translated by: Emily Grosholz

114 pages
ISBN 9781611484588

Yves Bonnefoy's book of poems, Beginning and End of the Snow followed by Where the Arrow Falls, combines two meditations in which the poet's thoughts and a landscape reflect each other. In the first, the wintry New England landscape he encountered while teaching at Williams College evokes the dance of atoms in the philosophical poem of Lucretius as well as the Christian doctrine of death and resurrection. In the second, Bonnefoy uses the luminous woods of Haute Provence as the setting for a parable of losing one's way.

Read our Q&A with translator Emily Grosholz

In the Nov. 29, 2013 issue of the Times Literary Supplement, Beverley Bie Brahic writes, "Emily Grosholz's impeccable translation, 'Beginning and End of the Snow' (Bucknell University Press) with water cololours by Farhad Ostovani, catches the simplicity and mystery of Yves Bonnefoy's poems of New England, Italy and Provence, and has given me a great deal of pleasure to read and reread this year."

"Emily Grosholz, both poet and philosopher, has accompanied Début et Fin dela neige with an exquisite English translation, and her great fellow-poet Yves Bonnefoy has prefaced poems and translation with a delectable essay on 'Snow' in French and English." - Richard Wilbur

"...Grosholz's self-effacing lines feel as resonant as the original. This is a superb book; one reads it without the least twinge of regret for what might be lost in translation. With half a dozen watercolour landscapes by the Iranian artist Farhad Ostovani, Snow is also a pleasure to look at." - Beverly Bie Brahic, PN Review 39:5 (2013): 66-67.

"Snow--the recurring theme around which this beautifully haunting book of poems is principally organized--might be thought of, even more broadly, as a unifying emblem for Yves Bonnefoy's floating, fleeting, and sometimes vaporizing poetic words--the latter dissolution occurring especially when a word, like a fragile snowflake, dreams of attaining the limitless, the absolute...There have been a few other English translations since Bonnefoy published Début et Fin de la Neige in 1991...But no earlier attempts offer as much economical richness as the book now under review." - George Poe, The Sewanee Review 122.1 (2014):157-160.

"This outwardly slight, paperbound volume opens to reveal an uncommon abundance: a series of exquisite poems by one of the most important poets in France today deftly rendered into English by a poet known for her delicate touch; an eloquent essay by Yves Bonnefoy himself, demonstrating his skill as a literary critic as well as a poet; and a charmingly direct meditation by the translator, Emily Grosholz, about her effort to create English equivalents of two Bonnefoy poems."
--Rita Signorelli-Pappas, Princeton; World Literature Today; (July 2013)

About the author:

Yves Bonnefoy is often described as the greatest French post-war poet. Trained as a philosopher, he is also an essayist, literary critic and art historian. In 1981, he succeeded Roland Barthes at the Collège de France in Paris. He is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently L'heure présente, as well as numerous works on art, history and poetry. His many honors include Canada's Griffin Poetry Prize (2011).

About the translator:

Emily Grosholz is Liberal Arts Research Professor of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University, and a member of the research group REHELS / SPHERE at the University of Paris Denis Diderot. She is the author of six books of poetry (including Leaves / Feuilles with Farhad Ostovani) and an advisory editor for the Hudson Review.


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