Ordinarily, what we like and admire in Tardieu is the virtuoso worker of the language, who dismantles the machinery of our speech and hearing, so amusingly and cruelly, and sets fire to all the distressing verbal exchange between the poor creatures that we are, condemned to professing Man’s inanity by means of a few phonemes…
The two poems I chose are of a different ink. Here we discover a lyric poet of near-Racinian accents, whom words have not yet abused and who does not yet have irony – or worse: sarcasm – in his quiver. Moreover, he advances naked, unarmed, open to astonishment, to the blaze of the world, open even to the gods, which deeply touched me. The non is easy: we read it ad nauseam in his works where humour serves to mask the sinister ‘Môme néant’. The oui is complicated, won after a hard-fought struggle with the elements, with beings, with oneself, body and soul; and even in a roundabout way, mezzo voce, it carries his echo – and his grace – further.
(translation: John Tyler Tuttle)
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