Monday, January 3, 2011

Aimless Reading: The M's, Part 8 (Stéphane Mallarmé)

A Tomb for Anatole
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Mallarmé, Stéphane
A Tomb for Anatole
Tr. Paul Auster

I have no idea where I bought this. Possibly online, possibly at Talking Leaves, possibly at St. Mark's. No idea. None. It has no TL sticker on it, which doesn't entirely rule out that possibility, but makes it less likely that I got it from there. I think I have a vague memory of buying it online shortly after having met Paul Auster. I don't know.

I first read some of the poems in this collection in Auster's book, "The Invention of Solitude," probably around 1993, after having been introduced to Auster's work by an artist I met on a trip to Paris. I remember at the time being terribly moved by these crystalline fragments of grief.

Several years later, after having moved to Buffalo, I encountered them again, this time through Robert Creeley. It was my second semester in town and I was meeting with him every week or so at Pano's on Elmwood Avenue to talk about my poetry. He asked if I had read Auster's translations of Mallarmé. I said I had read the one's he published in "The Invention of Solitude."

At our next meeting he brought me his copy of the original North Point Press version of the book. It had a light blue cover with white font. It was one of those paperback covers with flaps on it, like on a hardcover book. When he handed it to me, he said, "Make sure to give it back!"

I took it home and read through it. I seem to remember he also loaned me some books on prosody. I looked for my own copy, but it was long out of print. It wasn't until several years later that New Directions released this second edition, which I bought somewhere I don't know where and have since read several times.

from A Tomb for Anatole


child sprung from
the two of us—showing
us our ideal, the way
—ours! father
and mother who
               sadly existing
survive him as
the two extremes—
badly couple in him
and sundered
—from whence his death—o-
obliterating this little child "self"

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