Thompson, Peter S.
About the author: Peter S. Thompson studied French language and literature at Princeton and Brown Universities, and has taught French most of his life. He has traveled widely, and has made a study of the French colonial world and francophone literature. Aside from his own poetry and translations, he has edited two anthologies of French literature: Négritude et nouveaux mondes (Wayside) and Litérature moderne du monde francophone (McGraw Hill). Dr. Thompson has received several grants and awards from the Rockefeller Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 1995, Dr. Thompson has run a small foundation, the Murdock-Thompson Center for Teachers, and he currently teaches at Roger Williams University.2003 0-7734-6685-1
The introduction (by the translator) to this volume breaks new ground, and underlines Fargue’s importance both as a major poet and as a modernist. The preface by the important poet and editor, Peter Gizzi, will prove useful even to those who are very au courant with modern poetry. Fargue has never been translated into English, apart from a few poems in a Penguin anthology. St. John Perse, Joyce, and Rilke all considered Fargue one of the major poets of his age. And his best work, most agree, is the body of prose poems. These have the appeal of the flâneur genre, the kind of lively prose vignettes of Paris that Baudelaire made popular. This translation capitalizes on the visual appeal of Paris scenes, while also highlighting Fargue’s unique sense of the poetic, which was an important contribution to developing Modernism. Fargue blends Surrealism with a delicate musical stillness which evolves from French Symbolism. At the same time, Fargue’s often strange and unsettling images unfold a more personal sense of the poetic: his conviction that the poetic image is a return to, a re-writing of, childhood, an unlocking of the most intimate passages in time. Poëmes is Fargue’s first major work, a turning point in his writing, and an exemplary suite of prose poems. Facing page translations.1999 0-7734-3112-8
‘The defilements’ are meditations, personal but universal, too. They are the product of many years’ reflection on the Dharma, and long struggle with the forces (needs, passions) that thwart transcendent peace. ‘The road’ is a physical reflection of this journey, and complements the other poems with quiet, incantatory moments from scattered parts of the world.