Monday, February 19, 2007

Bookmark of the Week: No. 2

Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau (1912-1943)
This important modernist poet of Quebec was the great grandson of the historian Francois-Xavier Garneau, the grandson of the poet Alfred Garneau, and the cousin of Anne Hebert. Literature was very much a familial affair.

These images seem to capture two facets of his character. The pensive and sensitive visionary poet, and the handsome, urbane artiste.

During his short life time he published but one collection: Regards et jeux dans l'espace, 1937. Interestingly enough, 1937 was the year the publishing house, Editions Fides, started. This bookmarker advertising the poet's complete poems (277pp., $2.50) was probably issued around 1957. On the reverse of the bookmarker is a list of their suggested titles, including the complete poetry of Emile Nelligan, complete poetry of Robert Choquette, and the wonderful memoir, Testament of my Childhood by Robert de Roquebrune. The bookmarker on the extreme left was issued by Villeray Musique to promote a recording of 18 of the poet's poems set to music by 12 invited musicians.
Posthumously there came his journal, additional poems and prose.
The following poem comes from the collection Les solitudes, first issued in 1949. It is unusual for him, for it does make use of rhyme.

Leur coeur est ailleurs
Leur coeur est ailleurs
au ciel peut-etre
Elles errent ici en attendant
Mon coeur est parmi d'autres astres parti
Loin d'ici
Et sillonne la nuit d'un cri que je n'entends pas
Quel drame peut-etre se joue au loin d'ici?
Je n'en veux rien savoir
Je prefere etre un jeune mort etendu
Je prefere avoir tout perdu.
Pour chapeau le firmament
Pour monture la terre
Il s'agit maintenant
De savoir quel voyage nous allons faire.

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