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Motif(1987), Creusement (1987; see WLT 63:1, p. 68), Art poetique (1989; see WLT 64:3, p. 440), Le chant (1990; see WLT 65:3, p. 452), and now, in 1993, apart from the two elegant shorter texts, Elle and L'innocent, the substantial and probing Maintenant. The work of Eugene Guillevic continues to unfold its perceptiveness and its shrewdness, its still-craving attachment to the teeming phenomena of the earth and its increasingly mellow, caressing meditation of the fullness and the precariousness of our presence/absence. The dance of being ("danse / Devant mes yeux ouverts. / Danse de l'air? / Danse de rien") provides, as for all major poets in the Baudelaire-Rimbaud tradition--from Apollinaire and Frenaud to Jaccottet and Bonnefoy, Etienne and Le Dantec--the moving ground of a poetic reflection anchored in the "miracle" / "peu de chose" of each moment: the endless (ex)changes it conveys, its concreteness, its reciprocal experience of corporality, and yet its atemporalness, its mental-emotional depth, as well as the sense of unknownness it promotes within us, a recognition as buoying as it can be frustrating of the insufficiency of our categories of analysis and articulation of realness and nowness.

Certainly, if Guillevic's work evokes the problematics of perception, conception, and expression, it is not to wallow in a resultant anguish or to indulge in the barely readable ellipses of some self-reflexive discourse. The naming of being, and therefore nowness, is endless, provisional, relative; but the difficulty, the impossibility some would say, in no way involutes and implodes such naming, whose trace remains fatally pertinent inasmuch as it affirms--joyously, smilingly, moreover, Guillevic will insist--experience's openness and vitality, its indefinableness and its glory.

The blind spots in Guillevic's seeing and saying thus do not block his capacity for a celebration, which he sees mirrored in the very emergence, immense and ceaseless as it is, of being into being. What raises up, occulted, "disappeared," "forgotten," as Roger Munier would say (Le seul, 1993), the phenomena of being--"cela que celebre / cette immensite / De colza en fleur"--is not something Guillevic finds easy to name; but oblivion has not clouded his perception of the world, even though his memory-become-magnificat prefers to dwell within the mystery of its experience rather than step outside, illusorily, into some divisive space of pure analysis. "Vivre / La fleur que l'on est" is his primary goal, and his contact with the other attains to a similarly unspeakable, ever-nascent, supplementary, improbable fullness beyond even the synthesis already achieved: "Je touche," he writes, "et je connais / Beaucoup plus que nous deux." Maintenant is not just an experience of finiteness and mortality, of some long fall from capacity; rather, it is the ever-surging "incarnation [of] / The passion of the world," a chance to know, again, differently, the mystery of birth, creation, the "canticles" of presence in simple consciousness. A beautiful poem by a beautiful poet.

Michael Bishop Dalhousie University
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Author:Bishop, Michael
Publication:World Literature Today
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1994
Previous Article:Theatre, vol. 2.
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