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Today's poem is "Thief"
from Transparence of the World

Copper Canyon Press

Jean Follain was born at Canisy, in Normandy, in 1903. He studied law at the Faculte de Caen and graduated with honors. As a student he was also interested in history, particularly that of the nineteenth century. In 1925 he went to Paris to continue his studies. There his life and literary begginnings were both quiet. He associated with a group that included Max Jacob, Pierre Reverdy, and Leon-Paul Fargue, and his poems were published in several literary reviews. His first substantial book of poems, Le Main chaude, was published in 1933. Among his subsequent books of poems (as represented in this section) are Chants terrestres (1937), Ici-bas (1941), Transparence du monde (1943), Exister (1947), Territoires (1953), Des heures (1960), Appareil de la terre (1964), and D'apres nout (1967). Follain died in 1971.

W.S. Merwin was born in New York City in 1927 and grew up in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. From 1949 to 1951 he worked as a tutor in France, Majorca, and Portugal and has since lived in many parts of the world, translating and writing poetry, the Tanning Prize for Mastery in the Art of Poetry, the Bollingen Prize, the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize for poetry, the Lila Wallace-Reader's Digest Writers' Award, and the Governor's Award for Literature in the State of Hawaii, as well as fellowships from the Academy of American Poets (for which he was formerly a chancellor), the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He is author of many books of poetry and translation. He and his wife live in Hawaii, where he cultivates rare and endangered palm trees.

About Transparence of the World:

"Sometimes, the watchful poet's mood matches that of the moment. And, when it does, something resonant occurs. . . . Jean Follain [is] a French poet whose work — written between the world wars — speaks to the current historical situation with an almost aching relevance."
—Tim Rutten, Los Angeles Times

"From El Cid to Euripedes, Chanson de Roland to Jean Follain, Latin to Russian to Japanese, translator [W.S. Merwin]'s oeuvre suggests an intrepid quality as well as a scrutinizing sympathy."
—Brett Foster, Boston Review

"W.S. Merwin ranks as one of the world's premier translators, bringing a refined sense of imagery, diction and music to the texts of poets as diverse as Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda and the lesser known Frenchman Jean Follain."
—Arlice Davenport, The Wichita Eagle



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