The Poems in Verse is Peter Manson’s translation of the Poésies of Stéphane Mallarmé. Long overshadowed by Mallarmé’s theoretical writings and by his legendary visual poem “Un coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard,” the Poésies are lyrics of a uniquely prescient and generative modernity. Grounded in a scrupulous sounding of the complex ambiguities of the original poems, Manson’s English translations draw on the resources of the most innovative poetries of our own time — these may be the first translations really to trust the English language to bear the full weight of Mallarméan complexity. With The Poems in Verse, Mallarmé’s voice is at last brought back, with all its incisive strangeness, into the conversation it started a hundred and fifty years ago, called contemporary poetry.
Shortlisted for the 2013 Popescu Prize.
Available from Miami University Press. 288pp, February 2012. ISBN 978-1-881163-50-3.
Listen to a sample poem at the Poetry Society website. & read it:
The moon grew solemn. Seraphim in tears
dreaming, the bow held in their fingers, in the calm
of vaporous flowers, drew from fainting viols
white sobs to glide above the blue corollas
— it was the blessèd day of your first kiss.
My reverie, that loves to martyr me,
knowingly got drunk on the scent of sadness
that, even without regret or a bitter aftertaste, is left
by the harvest of a dream in the heart that harvested.
I wandered, then, my eyes fixed on the cobbles
when, with the sun in your hair, in the street,
in the evening, you appeared before me laughing
and my mind’s eye saw the fairy with the cap of light
who passed over the nights of my spoiled childhood,
always allowing a snowstorm from her half-closed hands
of white bouquets of scented stars to fall.
Reviewed (along with other translations) by Alex Cox in The New Yorker, April 11 2016.
Reviewed by Beverley Bie Brahic in the Autumn 2013 number of Poetry Review.
Reviewed by David Lloyd in Enclave Review April, 2013
Reviewed by Alison Croggon in the October 11, 2012 edition of Overland.
Reviewed by Stephan Delbos on the Body Literature website, September 7, 2012.
Reviewed by Ian Thomson in the Financial Times, August 24, 2012.
Reviewed by Barry Schwabsky on the Hyperallergic blog on July 29, 2012.
Reviewed by David Wheatley in The Guardian, June 15, 2012.