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French poet Yves Bonnefoy dies aged 93

French poet Yves Bonnefoy

Yves Bonnefoy, one of France’s most esteemed modern poets, has died at the age of 93, French media report.

His more than 100 books were translated into 30 languages.

He was also a translator who was known for his French versions of the plays of William Shakespeare, and the poetry of W B Yeats, John Donne and Petrarch.

His style was surrealistic to a degree, but he sought to avoid the obscurity which might isolate his readers from the everyday world.

Born in 1923 in Tours, he was also an art critic who wrote on such modern masters as Pablo Picasso, Alberto Giacometti and Piet Mondrian.

He also translated the works of his friend, the Greek poet George Seferis.

Bonnefoy published his first volume of poetry in 1946 and first achieved wider fame seven years with his third book.

He said that in his poetry he tried to seek “what is immediate in life” by staying faithful to the “truth of language”.

“A poet’s job is to show us a tree, before our mind tells us what a tree is,” he said.

He taught comparative poetics at the prestigious College de France from 1981 to 1994, as well as teaching at a number of US universities.




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About the author

Sydney Chesterfield

Poet, Playwright, Philosopher, Humanitarian, mad lover of children and unflinching fighter for equality on all grounds viz. Women's rights, child rights, sine die.

Twitter: @syd_field